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Thursday, June 20, 2013 07:20 am

News Quirks 6/20/13

An end to doughnut breaks
• Police in Lowell, Mass. agreed to allow global-positioning systems in patrol cars to track officers. The Lowell Patrolmen’s Union had expressed concerns about the GPS devices being used to discipline officers found not to be where they’re supposed to, but the union agreed to their implementation in exchange for a retroactive 0.25 percent hike in base pay. The city pays for the GPS units with money seized during drug arrests. (Lowell Sun)

Things that go boom — and don’t
• Authorities said Leonard Burdek, 50, walked into the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission offices in Salem, Ore., carrying a pressure cooker with wires sticking out and claimed it was a bomb. He told Executive Director Vickie Chamberlain and the receptionist that he tried to blow up the agency’s outside sign because of a misspelling (a “d” was missing from “and” in the agency’s name), but the bomb didn’t work. After discussing the bomb’s failure to detonate, Burdek complained that the instructions he downloaded to make it also had misspellings. He left after an employee called police, who found him nearby. Noting the pressure cooker wasn’t a bomb, police Lt. Dave Okada said, “It looks like he was just trying to get attention.” (Salem’s Statesman Journal)

Why they call it dope
• Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 22, drove more than 2,000 miles from Idaho Falls to Washington, D.C., and fired as many as eight shots at the White House, according to prosecutors, who said after his arrest that Ortega-Hernandez “expressed anger towards the government regarding the continued criminalization of marijuana,” which he acknowledged smoking and claimed makes people more intelligent. (Associated Press)

Eco-fallout
• One in five Seattle business owners surveyed blamed a ban on plastic bags for an increase in shoplifting. Typically, shoplifters enter stores with reusable bags containing some merchandise, then add a few items and walk out. “Across the United States, we have seen these bag bans, and the shoplifting has always had a substantial leap,” Jan Gee, president of the Washington Food Industry Association, said, “and so it was not a surprise to us.” (Seattle Weekly)

It happens
• The town of Brunete, Spain, reported a 70 percent drop in unscooped poop since it enlisted volunteers to track down dog owners who fail to pick up after their pets. The 20 volunteers patrol the town, and when they observe owners who fail to pick up after their pets, they approach them under the guise of casual conversation to learn the dog’s name. They check the name against a pet database to find names and address of the owners and mail the excrement to them in an official box marked “Lost Property.” (Britain’s The Telegraph)

• City officials in Abbotsford, British Columbia, apologized for spraying chicken manure on a makeshift camp to drive away homeless people. After homeless advocate James Breckenridge complained about “the dumbness of using chicken manure in light of bird flu” and the fact that the homeless people wind up tracking the manure “all over the place in the city,” city manager George Murray said the city would remove the manure from the site. (Canada’s QMI Agency)
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