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Syndicated Columns

Newsquirks

By Roland Sweet
Posted // June 29,2007 -

Curses, Foiled Again
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When sheriff’s deputies stopped a man for speeding in Goliad, British Columbia, Canada, they pointed out that the name on his driver license didn’t match the name tattooed on his back. He produced another license with his real name: Omar Cruz Garza, 35. Observing a DVD, a safe, power tools and camera inside the pickup truck, the suspicious deputies found paperwork in the safe with the same name as the first driver’s license. Before learning that the items had been taken in a home burglary, the deputies also found 4 grams of cocaine, which the man explained he was taking to his son as a graduation present. After arresting Garza, the deputies learned that the truck had been reported stolen.

? A man broke into a convenience store in Rome, Ga., stole some scratch-off lottery tickets, then tried to cover his tracks by burning the store. In doing so, he set himself on fire. Firefighters said the fire destroyed everything in the store except the surveillance video, which shows the suspect dousing the store with charcoal-lighter fluid, then igniting it and accidentally burning his face and neck. While still on fire, the suspect grabbed the tickets and fled.

? The Bureau of Land Management proposed banning recreational shooting inside the Ironwood Forest National Monument in southern Arizona. The federal agency said it is tired of saguaros being riddled with bullets and shooters who leave behind discarded computers, TV sets, stoves and other items they use for target practice. “People are bringing their trash and shooting their trash, or they shoot someone else’s trash,” said Patrick Madigan, who oversees the 129,000-acre monument.

If a Cow Answers, Hang Up
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Forest officials in western India began trapping leopards that have wandered into human settlements by using cell phones with ringtones of cows mooing, goats bleating and roosters crowing. The forest officials download the ringtones, then attach their cell phones to speakers behind a cage and play them continuously for two hours until the curious leopard appears and moves into the cage looking for the prey. “This trick works,” D. Vasani, a senior forest official in Gujarat state, said, explaining that the method is safer than using live bait. Vasani added that five leopards have been caught using the ringtones.

Lack of Foresight
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Darryl D. Green, 24, a blind athlete from Philadelphia, was killed by a hit-and-run driver in St. Augustine, Fla., after his team lost the championship game in a national “goalball” tournament. The game involves teams of three blind people trying to roll a ball filled with bells into a 30-foot goal. John Mulhern, one of Green’s teammates, said Green was partying with other athletes, went back to his hotel to use the bathroom and was returning to the party when he made a wrong turn. He was on his cell phone with a teammate, who was trying to guide him back, when he apparently stepped into the highway was hit.

? A Chinese court jailed two officials who let a blind contractor build a bridge that collapsed during construction, injuring 12 people. According to the official Xinhua news agency, Huang Wenge and Xia Jianzhong knew the bridge was being built by a blind contractor, who changed the blueprint without getting a sighted professional to check the design. After making the change, the contractor relied on a roughly drawn draft of the plan to carry out the work, leading to the collapse.

Headscratchers of the Week
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Police in Bridgeport, Conn., accused Hector Pulido, 40, of biting his 3-year-old nephew all over his body after day-care workers discovered adult-size bite marks on the boy’s chest, stomach, shoulder, back, thigh, leg and buttocks. Police Lt. James Viadero said that when questioned, Pulido explained he bit the boy “to teach him not to bite anyone.?

? A news organization in Pasadena, Calif., has outsourced local news coverage to two reporters in India. James Macpherson, 51, editor and publisher of the website PasadenaNow.com, acknowledged that he hired two Indian reporters to each deliver 15 weekly articles, including investigative stories and coverage of city council meetings, which are carried on the Internet, for $20,800 a year for the pair. “I think it could be a significant way to increase the quality of journalism on the local level without the expense that is a major problem for local publications,” said Macpherson, whose main help had consisted of his wife and an intern. “Whether you’re at a desk in Pasadena or a desk in Mumbai, you’re still just a phone call or e-mail away from the interview.?

Although Macpherson appears to be the first to outsource community journalism, the British news agency Reuters staffs an office in the technology capital of Bangalore that turns out Wall Street stories based on press releases.

Spoilsports of the Week
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President Emomalii Rakhmon of the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan urged legislation to limit the size and expense of weddings, birthday parties and funerals, pointing out that the ceremonies have become too expensive. He suggested guests at weddings be limited to 150, at funerals to 100 and at circumcision ceremonies to 60. Rakhmon previously banned schoolchildren from using cell phones and wearing Islamic or revealing Western clothing, called for an end to end-of-school-term parties and urged all Tajiks to drop Russian endings from surnames.

 
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