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Syndicated Columns

Newsquirks

By Roland Sweet
Posted // June 11,2007 -

A South African man who robbed a Bloemfontein couple at knifepoint fled the scene and took refuge at a nearby zoo. Police official Sam Makhele said that the man hid in what turned out to be a tiger enclosure and was mauled to death.



• Police investigators reported that Andrew M. Jacobs, 42, broke into a home in Vienna, Va., entered the bedroom of 10-year-old twin girls and tried to abduct them. According to police Capt. Mike Miller, the two girls fought off their attacker by screaming and kicking, using moves that their martial arts instructor taught them. The attacker, who wore a ski mask, turned out to be the girls’ martial arts-instructor, Jacobs.



Close Enough



Japan Airlines officials reported that one of its Boeing 747 aircraft flew for seven months with its left and right outboard engines switched until a routine inspection discovered the mix-up. Blaming a maintenance firm in Singapore for changing the engines when fitting them, JAL officials explained that the mistake didn’t change the engines’ output, just their angle, affecting the engines’ reverse thrust. Pilots made more than 400 landings without noticing.



No Right to Bear Arms



During Vice President Dick Cheney’s surprise visit to Iraq in December, “U.S. forces guarded Cheney with weapons at the ready,” the Associated Press reported, “while Iraqi soldiers, who had no weapons, held their arms out as if they were carrying imaginary guns.?



It’s the Law



Charles Atherton, 73, was crossing a Washington, D.C., street in the middle of the block when a Toyota hit him hard enough to knock him out of his shoes. He struck his head on the car’s windshield and fell to the pavement, according to police, who issued Atherton a $5 ticket for jaywalking just before he was taken to a hospital, where he died. Police Capt. Willie Smith told The Washington Post that if the police had known Atherton was going to die, they never would have written the ticket.



• An Australian traffic officer in Melbourne wrote a parking ticket for a car whose dead driver was slumped at the wheel. The 71-year-old man had been reported missing nine days earlier. “Our local laws officer checked and wrote out the ticket at the rear of the vehicle and placed the ticket from the passenger side on the windscreen,” Paul Denham, the mayor of Maroondah council, explained, adding that the “officer did not notice anything unusual regarding the vehicle.?



Define “Emergency?



Police responding to a 911 call from a Malt-N-Burger restaurant in Thibodaux, La., found that the caller, Sharita Williams, 30, had declared an emergency because her onion rings were served cold, and the attendant refused to replace the order. Officers issued Williams a summons for misusing the 911 system.



Superdome Stay-Over Optional



Gray Line New Orleans began offering the “Hurricane Katrina Tour: America’s Worst Catastrophe!” to show visitors the devastation that the city suffered when the storm hit last August. The three-hour tour costs $35. “People around the country don’t understand it until they see it firsthand,” Gregory Hoffman, the tour-bus operator’s general manager, said, adding that passengers aren’t let off in flood-ravaged neighborhoods to take pictures.Making Do



When more than 10,000 delegates attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Pusan, South Korea, in November, all the luxury hotels in the Haeundae beach area ran out of rooms. Several hundred overflow guests and journalists were booked into nearby “love motels,” which usually accommodate people seeking discreet locations for intimate encounters. Many rooms feature red lights and round beds but lack closets since regular guests seldom stay more than a few hours. Windows also have frosted glass to protect adulterers’ identity.



• While APEC delegates and journalists complained about the lack of amenities, some motel owners were also less than pleased. They said that the intense security scared off local clients, and rooms that could have been rented profitably by the hour, possibly several times over the course of a night and day, were occupied by a single guest 24 hours a day for an entire week.



Whom Do You Trust?



The same day The New York Times disclosed that President George W. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants but insisted that existing safeguards are sufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans, The Washington Post reported that a former NSA worker was convicted of taking home boxes full of classified documents and storing them throughout the house, including in the kitchen and a bedroom. Acting on a tip, FBI agents arrested Kenneth W. Ford Jr., 34, a computer specialist at the agency from 2001 to 2003. He explained that he needed the documents to use as reference materials for his new job with a government contractor.

 
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