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Syndicated Columns

Newsquirks

By Roland Sweet
Posted // June 11,2007 -

Canadian authorities had little trouble identifying the two suspects who stole outdoor surveillance cameras at a museum in Prince George, British Columbia. Before they were stolen, the cameras recorded the crimes. “They are very clear, good-quality pictures,” Exploration Place executive director Tracy Calogheros said. “You can see the detail of their faces, the logos on their clothing, their dog was even in the video.” A museum staff member driving downtown recognized the suspects and their dog from the videotapes and alerted police, who nabbed one of the men.



Rules Are Rules



While Bibaldo Rueda used a garden hose and buckets of water to try to save his burning garage, volunteers from Missouri’s Monett Rural Fire Department refused to help because Rueda hadn’t paid membership dues for the department’s services. The firefighters stood by watching in case the fire spread to neighboring properties owned by dues-paying members. Rueda, who was injured battling the flames, offered to pay the dues while the fire raged, but the department doesn’t have a policy for on-the-spot billing. After the blaze destroyed the garage and a vehicle, Fire Chief Ronnie Myers defended the no-pay, no-aid stance, explaining that the membership-based organization couldn’t survive if people thought the department would respond for free.



Anti-Fur



The government of Uzbekistan has banned fur-lined underwear, declaring that citizens who wear them are susceptible to “unbridled fantasies.?



Vehicular Follies Down Under



Australian police charged a man with “reversing further than necessary” after he traveled backwards for more than 25 miles along a busy highway between Sydney and Melbourne. The man, who told police that he still had 56 miles to go to reach his home, explained that reverse was the only gear in the car that worked.



• New Zealand police who stopped a car going 75 mph in a 60 mph zone near Papamoa reported that the 32-year-old driver had no arms and was using one foot to steer and the other to operate the brake and accelerator. Senior Constable Brent Gray said that the man explained he was born without arms and had been driving for years, although he had never held a driver license.



Homeland Insecurity



Baggage screeners at U.S. ports of entry have been instructed to be on the lookout for cell-phone guns. The weapons, which are made from discarded cell phones, are capable of firing four .22-caliber rounds in quick succession. The guns are loaded by twisting the phone in half and inserting the rounds under the screen. The bullets fire through the antenna by pressing 5, 6, 7 and 8 on the keypad. The weapons have turned up in Europe, where airport authorities have begun implementing systems to X-ray all cell phones. “We find it very, very alarming,” said Wolfgang Dicke of the German Police union. “It means police will have to draw their weapons whenever a person being checked reaches for their mobile phone.?



Have Sex and Mean It



The University of Florida introduced a health-care plan that requires university employees to sign a pledge that they’re having sex with their domestic partner in order to qualify for benefits. The partners of homosexual and heterosexual employees are eligible for coverage under the plan. In addition to declaring joint financial obligations, prospective enrollees must “have been in a non-platonic relationship for the preceding 12 months,” according to the affidavit. The university said that married employees are not required to have sex to qualify for benefits.



Balls or Brains



Researchers studying bat species having promiscuous females discovered that males boasting the largest testicles had the smallest brains. The study, led by Syracuse University biologist Scott Pitnick, also found that in species with faithful females, the male bats had smaller testes and larger brains.



After-Death Experiences



So many people are scattering the ashes of their loved ones on the mountaintops of Scotland that the bleakness many find so attractive about the scenic peaks is being replaced by “luxuriant growth of vegetation,” according to Des Thompson, principal uplands adviser to the environmental group Scottish Natural Heritage. He told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the cremated remains are enriching the previously acidic and impoverished soil with nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, causing plants to grow too fast and too thick.



• Hundreds of people received tissue and bone transplants from looted corpses, including the cadaver of former Masterpiece Theatre host Alistair Cooke, according to federal investigators. The agents from the Food and Drug Administration found a body-harvesting lab in New Jersey run by a former dentist, who reportedly extracted bones, tendons and skin from corpses at dozens of New York City funeral homes without the consent of relatives, then shipped coolers full of the illegally harvested body parts to hospitals as far away as Florida, Texas and Nebraska “We know that they obtained these bodies in a fraudulent way and off the scale of acceptable practice,” FDA official Stephen King told The Washington Post.

 
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