News Quirks 03.30.05
Curses, Foiled Again
An agency that serves the poor in Fostoria, Ohio, called police after thieves broke in through a back door and stole a safe. The safe was empty, according to Susan Simpkins, director of the Fostoria Bureau of Concern, who explained that the agency had been intending to throw it out, but it was too big to move. "It is really quite comical," she said. "It was very heavy, and they did us a favor by taking it."
Lucky for Whom?
Hong Kong police reported that two Chinese men, ages 26 and 27, were shipping stolen goods to the mainland when police saw them and gave chase. The suspects were arrested when their boat broke down. Police official Anson Lo said that the contraband was a shipment of Buddhist Pines, commonly called "good luck" trees.
Constable Chris Legere pulled over a car going 96 mph outside Alexandria, Ontario, and issued a ticket to the 18-year-old driver. Hours later, Legere stopped the same car, this time traveling in the other direction at 91 mph. Although the driver looked the same, Legere said that an identification check showed she was the twin sister of the first driver.
Toe the Line
Jaywalkers in the Philippines risk having wet rags dropped on their heads as punishment after more than 20 trucks hit the streets of Manila equipped with blanket-size white rags and water containers to keep the rags wet. If the wet-rag patrol fails to curb jaywalking, Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando insisted that he would turn to paintballs from war games against jaywalkers. "Paintball could easily stain clothes and would be very effective to teach undisciplined pedestrians a good lesson," he said.
Great Balls of Fire
Two unnamed men from Montana reported to police in Denton, Texas, that two teenagers robbed them while they were passing through town. According to the Denton Record Chronicle, the victims said that they were on their way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, because they needed money and had read on the Internet that a medical school there would pay $100,000 for testicles.
Two women who helped care for the famous gorilla Koko sued the San Francisco Gorilla Foundation, claiming that it fired them for refusing to show Koko their breasts. The lawsuit by Nancy Alperin and Kendra Keller accused foundation president Francine Patterson of seeking to have the women bond with the gorilla by performing "bizarre sexual acts with Koko."
The foundation maintains that Koko understands a sign language vocabulary of more than 1000 words. "Through sign language, as interpreted by Patterson, Koko 'demanded' plaintiffs remove their clothing and show Koko their breasts," the lawsuit said. "Patterson pressured plaintiffs to perform such acts, regularly and consistently, and on at least one occasion, outdoors where others could see."
A month after the women's lawsuit, a third woman, Iris Rivera, filed her own suit, accusing Patterson of repeatedly pressuring her to expose her breasts, insisting that Koko was signing "She wants to see your nipples." Although Alperin and Keller refused to expose themselves, Rivera said that she acquiesced.
Kinky As They Come
A 25-year-old man told police in Savannah, Georgia, that he was sexually assaulted by two women he spotted outside his mobile home while drinking and using cocaine and invited to join him. He explained that he could remember little from that point until he awoke to find a metal object protruding from his rear end. Police Sgt. Mike Wilson said doctors at Memorial Health University Medical Center surgically removed what they identified as "one half of a pair of food tongs" and turned it over to police.
Leave It to Beavers
Authorities searching for as much as $75,000 stolen from the Lucky Dollar Casino in Greenburg, Louisiana, recovered more than half of it after one of the robbers admitted throwing three moneybags into a creek. Maj. Michael Martin of the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office said that beavers building a dam apparently tore open one of the bags and wove many of the bills into the sticks and mud used to build the dam. "They hadn't torn the bills up," Martin said. "They were still whole." Investigators recovered the remaining two bags unopened.
The city council in Villahermosa, Mexico, voted to ban indoor nudity, warning that offenders face up to 36 hours in jail or a fine of $121. "We are talking about zero tolerance ... for a lack of morality," said city councilwoman Blanca Estela Pulido of the Revolutionary Institutional Party, which governs the Tabasco state capital. Villahermosa is noted for its sweltering heat and humidity, and citizens traditionally have houses that provide plenty of ventilation, including open windows. "Because we walk past the windows, you see a lot of things," Pulido said, indicating she was confident that citizens who catch a glimpse of offenders would report them to police -- even though the law also threatens jail for peeping Toms.
Squeegees from Outer Space
Scientists reported that the power output of the solar panels of the Mars Oppor-tunity rover probing the surface of Mars had dropped to 500 watt-hours per day because they were being clogged by the heavy Martian dirt. NASA rover team leader Jim Erickson said that the panels' output soared close to their maximum 900 watt-hours per day after an unexplained phenomenon regularly cleaned layers of the dust. The second rover, Mars Spirit, which operates on a different part of the planet, hasn't been cleaned, however, and its clogged panels have had their power output drop to 400 watt-hours a day.