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News Quirks

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Curses, Foiled Again

A man wanted on rape charges was arrested after stopping to flirt with a uniformed female police officer on patrol in San Francisco. The 26-year-old man was “obviously enamored,” police Capt. Paul Chignell said, and approached the parked police cruiser to strike up a conversation. When he asked the officer if she was married, she replied that she wasn’t available but asked the man’s name. As he walked away, she ran a records check and discovered the no-bail warrant for rape. (San Francisco Chronicle)

A little more than an hour after stealing beer from a liquor store in Santa Clarita, Calif., three suspects returned and demanded the surveillance video of the crime. They brandished a knife and cut the clerk during a scuffle, then fled. Sheriff’s deputies had surrounded the scene, however, and arrested Oscar Jimenez, 19, Eduardi Salgado, 18, and a juvenile. (Associated Press)

Second-Amendment Follies

When Dustin Bueller, 20, asked Moises Zambrana, 48, to see his gun after church in Lealman, Fla., they made sure not to endanger parishioners gathered inside the church by stepping inside a closet. Zambrana removed the Ruger 9mm’s magazine and began explaining the weapon’s safety features. He forgot about the round in the chamber, however, and the gun accidentally fired, sending a bullet through the wall and into the head of Hannah Kelley, 20, who is Bueller’s girlfriend and the daughter of the pastor. She was hospitalized in critical condition. (Tampa Bay Times)

Future Flunkers

China banned three kindergartens in Shanxi province from offering palm-reading tests that the schools claimed could predict pupils’ intelligence level and potential. Although many parents were eager to have their children tested, some later complained about the method and its high cost: $190. (Reuters)

Scam-a-Rama

Nicolaos Kantartzis pleaded guilty to rigging pay phones in the Washington, DC, area to make phantom calls to toll-free numbers so he could collect a fee for each call. Because the calls are free to callers, the recipient has to pay the cost, half of which goes to the pay-phone operator. Kantartzis made some 8 million calls, most lasting only a few seconds, collecting 50 cents each to net $4 million. (Associated Press)

Food Follies

Chile’s Supreme Court ordered the newspaper La Tercera to pay $125,000 to 13 people who suffered burns while trying out a recipe for churros. Days after the newspaper printed the recipe for the popular Latin American fried dough snack, hospitals around the country began treating people for burns suffered when the dough boiling in oil suddenly exploded. Judges ruled that the newspaper failed to test the recipe before publication. (Britain’s Telegraph)

A Transportation Security Administration agent confiscated a frosted cupcake from a Massachusetts passenger flying from Las Vegas, citing its gel-like icing as a potential national security threat. Accusing the agent of lacking common sense, Rebecca Hains, 35, called the incident “an encroachment on civil liberties” and said such incidents done in the name of security are “really theater” that are “not keeping us safe.” (Associated Press)

How Congress Thinks

Frustrated with the Senate’s failure to approve a budget, U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., told a town hall meeting in Bixby, Okla., “I’d love to get them to vote for it. Boy, I’d love that, you know. But other than me going over there with a gun and pointing it to their head and maybe killing a couple of ’em, I don’t think they’re going to listen unless they get beat.” (Associated Press)

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, insisted that increasing the flow of oil through the Alaskan oil pipeline would benefit the caribou that live near the project. He explained to the House Natural Resources Committee that the caribou enjoy the warmth that the pipeline radiates. “So,” he informed his colleagues, “when they want to go on a date, they invite each other to head over to the pipeline.” He credited the pipeline for a tenfold boost to Alaska’s caribou population and said the caribou might be adversely affected if oil stops running through the pipeline. When his colleague, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said he wasn’t sure Gohmert knew what he was talking about, Gohmert remained adamant, saying, “It sounds like they need the pipeline.” (Washington Post)

Animal Wrongs

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a lawsuit seeking to extend constitutional protection against slavery to five whales that perform at SeaWorld parks in San Diego and Orlando. Citing the 13th Amendment, the suit claimed that the wild-caught mammals are enslaved because they’re held in concrete tanks against their will and forced to perform in shows. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller agreed to hear arguments over granting constitutional rights to animals but ruled that the Constitution doesn’t apply to nonhumans. (Associated Press)

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