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Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 12:01 am

News Quirks 10/17/13

Curses, foiled again
When an unidentified burglar entered a San Francisco bank through a ventilation shaft, he triggered a silent alarm. Police Chief Greg Suhr said that when officers responded, the 230-pound suspect fled to a nearby building and promptly fell through the roof into an apartment, where officers arrested him. (Associated Press)

British police identified Afrasayab Khan, 18, as the suspect in an assault on a Staffordshire University student after he stole her phone and changed her profile picture on a phone app to his. Friends noticed and notified the victim, who gave police the photo. Officers investigating an unrelated matter in Hanley spotted Khan and recognized him from the photo. He pleaded guilty. (Stoke on Trent’s The Sentinel)

The price is spite
New York’s Suffolk County hoped to get at least $10 at an auction for a lot that’s only a foot wide but runs 1,885 feet from a highway to an Atlantic beachfront. It wound up selling for $120,000, however, because the owners of adjoining lots got into a bidding war. “I gathered one guy really did not want the other one walking over his property to the water,” county property manager Wayne R. Thompson said. Winning bidder Marc Helie now owns two narrow strips on both sides of losing bidder Kyle N. Cruz, who has no direct route to the beach without trespassing on Helie’s property. (Long Island’s Newsday)

When guns are outlawed
Seattle police accused Joseph V. Floyd Jr., 58, of repeatedly hitting a man in a wheelchair over the head with a 16-pound tub of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Floyd admitted pouring ersatz butter on the victim’s head because he objected to the man’s playing his television too loudly but denied hitting him. (Seattle’s KIRO-TV)

Modern maladies
Sleep texting is the latest side effect of technology, according to Seattle neurologist Dr. Lina Fine, who reported growing numbers of patients expressing concerns that they’re texting in their sleep but don’t remember. “The smartphone has become a common way to communicate,” Fine said. “It’s reflexive to go for something we use the most.” She added that people are engaged with so many digital devices nowadays, “we never really fall asleep.” Sleep medicine specialist Dr. William DePaso said people have to be awake at least 30 seconds to remember. “My son can probably send 20 text messages in that time,” he commented. (Seattle’s KOMO-TV)

Scottish health authorities reported a rash of injuries to babies from swallowing laundry detergent capsules. The brightly colored pods attract infants, but their alkaline chemicals can burn throats and prove fatal, according to the National Health Service Greater Glasgow and Clyde. In response, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents launched a safety campaign that includes distributing 16,000 cabinet door latches to all families with 12- to 16-week-old babies to help keep the pods out of reach.

In Florida, meanwhile, authorities reported the death of a child in August who ate a detergent pod. The capsules “just became available in the U.S. last year, and within weeks to months of them becoming available we began to get reports through the poison centers of children ending up in the hospital following exposure to these packets,” Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger, medical director of the Florida Poison Information Center of Tampa, said. (Scotland’s STV and ABC News)

Mystery meat
Chicken nuggets contain only 50 percent or less chicken muscle tissue from breasts and thighs, according to Mississippi researchers. The rest is a mix of fat, blood vessels and nerves from skin and internal organs. “Some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather than low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it and still call it chicken,” said Dr. Richard D. deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, who reported the study’s findings in the American Journal of Medicine. (Reuters)

Two years after concerns over pink-slime prompted Fairfax County, Va., to replace additive-filled hamburgers on school lunch menus with all-beef patties, it’s returning to adulterated burgers because students complained the beef burgers didn’t look or taste right. For one thing, their centers were pink, since the all-beef patties lacked caramel coloring. The old burgers contained 27 ingredients, including caramel coloring and pink slime, a combination of beef scraps and connective tissue sprayed with ammonia gas to kill pathogens. The all-beef burgers contained only beef. The new patties have 26 additives, including the caramel coloring but lacking pink slime. “Students are our customers,” Penny McConnell, the county’s food and nutritional service director, said, “and we listen to them and implement their requests if possible.” (The Washington Post)

Supply and demand
Coupon-dealing Groupon offered its Indian users onions for 9 rupees per kilo (6-plus cents a pound) just as the price of onions skyrocketed to 100 rupees per kilo. Groupon sold 6,613 pounds of onions in 44 minutes and 15,000 pounds total by the time its website overloaded and crashed. Explaining that the promotion was aimed at getting shoppers’ attention, Anur Warikoo, CEO of Groupon in India, said that even before the price of onions tripled in two months, they hadn’t been priced at 9 rupees since 1999. “We wanted to sell it at a price that most of us have completely forgotten,” he said. (Al Jazeera America)

It’s all happening at the zoo
A British safari park hired guards to enforce a new dress code aimed at keeping visitors from scaring the animals. The restrictions against clothing resembling the hides of giraffes, zebras, leopards, cheetahs and tigers affect a 22-acre, Serengeti-style reserve at Chessington World of Adventure, where visitors are driven while animals roam free. “Animals are getting confused when they see what looks like zebras and giraffes driving across the terrain in a 7.5-ton truck,” park official Natalie Dilloway said. (Britain’s The Guardian)

Hazards of (e)smoking
A 3-year-old boy received first- and second-degree burns while riding with his mother in Provo, Utah, after an e-cigarette exploded in their car. Kinzie Barlow said she noticed a strange smell while charging the device, “then there was a big bang, and kind of a flash, and there’s smoke everywhere.” She explained that a white-hot copper coil shot out into the boy’s car seat, where it burned through the fabric, melted the hard plastic and sent flames up the boy’s body. Barlow tried to smother the flames with her shirtsleeve, but it caught fire. She finally doused the flames with iced coffee. (Salt Lake City’s KSTU-TV)

Compiled from mainstream news sources by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.

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