Newsquirks | Syndicated Columns | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly


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Curses, Foiled Again
nPolice in Forrest City, Ark., arrested would-be burglar Dennis Reed Jr., 19, after finding him stuck between an air-conditioning unit and a window frame, facing into an apartment not his. What’s more, he was nude. Rescue personnel were unable to free Reed until they entered the apartment and removed the air conditioner. He insisted he had been forced to break into the apartment by a gunman he knew only by his first name.


• A burglary suspect led police on a high-speed chase, until he crashed the stolen car he was driving in a wooded area of Smithtown, N.Y., and fled on foot. Suffolk County police were searching for the suspect when he landed at their feet after falling 50 feet from a tree he had climbed to hide in. Police official Jeremy Samuelson said Joseph Barwick, 31, was hospitalized with leg and back injuries.


nFifteen thousand inmates at a maximum-security prison in Manila, including 1,000 on death row, shaved their heads and chests, then donated the hair to help mop up the Philippines’ worst oil spill. Coast Guard chief Arthur Gosingan explained that the prisoners’ contribution was part of a nationwide drive to collect hair and chicken feathers to put in sacks tied to bamboo poles to absorb more than 52,834 gallons of industrial fuel, which leaked from a tanker that sank off the central island of Guimaras.


Nuclear Families
nSpanish authorities have found radioactive snails where three U.S. hydrogen bombs accidentally fell in 1966. After a mid-air collision between an Air Force bomber and a refueling aircraft, high-explosive igniters on two bombs detonated on impact, spreading plutonium clouds across nearby fields. After making this discovery 40 years later, officials warned residents of the nearby fishing village of Palomares not to eat any snails, which are a local delicacy. “We have to study the dirt, we have to look underground,” energy official Juan Antonio Rubio said. “We don’t know what’s down there.nn

• Scientists in South Africa have discovered bacteria that live two miles below ground and thrive on radiation. The microbes, observed in water spilling out of a fissure in a South African gold mine, are similar to others found in extreme conditions lacking nutrients traceable to photosynthesis, which fuels all life on Earth’s surface. “There is an organism that dominates its environment by feeding off an essentially inexhaustible source of energy: radiation,” said geoscientist Tullis C. Onstott of Princeton University, who led the team. “The bottom line is: Water plus rocks plus radiation is enough to sustain life for millennia.” Onstott added that locating life in this otherwise uninhabitable place “increases the likelihood that we will find life beneath the surface of Mars.nn

• One person died and 13 others fell ill from rectal inflammation after they were exposed to excessive doses of X-rays while being scanned for prostate cancer at Epinal Hospital in eastern France. Altogether, 23 patients received excessive doses of radiation, according to the Lorraine Regional Hospital Agency, which noted that all 13 who became ill needed surgery to fit an artificial anus.


Second-Amendment Follies
nBrycien Reyes, 19, was practicing his fast draw with a loaded .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol while facing himself in a mirror in the basement of his home in Evans, Colo., when, according to police Lt. Gary Kessler, he accidentally and fatally shot himself in the head.


• A cannon that is fired whenever the football team at Washington’s Snohomish High School scores a touchdown wounded five students standing on the sidelines at the school’s homecoming game. Shannon Parthemer of the Snohomish School District couldn’t say if the students were struck by cannon fire or by flying debris from a possible cannon malfunction, but promised “a full investigation.nn

Binge and Purge
nZhang Hongtao, 25, an auditor in China’s northern Hebei province, died from overindulging at a procession of banquets and other entertainment hosted for Zhang and other auditors by the auditee, the Yanshan Power Supply Co. Five power bureau officials were dismissed or demoted over Zhang’s death, the Shanghai Daily reported, pointing out that instead of conducting the audit, Zhang ate, drank, played cards and enjoyed massages.


• Robert Cole, 37, serving time at a maximum-security prison in Sydney, Australia, for theft and assault, secretly fasted and used contraband laxatives to lose 30 pounds so he could escape by squeezing through a hole he chiseled in his cell wall with a butter knife. The 123-pound fugitive was recaptured three days later, and Judge Roger Dive added 21 months to his sentence, despite defense attorney Richard Leary’s assertion that Cole only escaped to show authorities that he could go straight on the outside.


Occupational Hazards
nBryan Byrne, a worker at Williams’ Bakery in Glenwood, Ore., was hospitalized in critical condition after being pinned face down in a slowly moving trough of dough, unable to breathe. Kevin Weeks, of the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Division, said that Byrne somehow got caught between a Plexiglass machine guard and the conveyor belt moving the dough. Rescuers needed 10 minutes to unbolt the machine guard, which Weeks explained was installed to prevent workers from coming into contact with the conveyer belt.

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