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News of the Weird

  • Article by: CHUCK SHEPHERD
  • December 7, 2012 - 2:14 PM

If an asteroid is ever on a collision course with Earth, it is feasible that the planet could be saved by firing paintballs at it, according to an MIT graduate student whose detailed plan won this year's prize in a United Nations space council competition, announced in October.

White paint powder, landing strategically on the asteroid, would initially bump it a bit, but would also facilitate the sun's photons bouncing off the solid white surface. Over a period of years, the bounce energy would divert the body even farther off course. The asteroid Apophis, which measures 1,500 feet in diameter and is projected to approach Earth in 2029, would require 5 tons of paintball ammo.

Vindicated?

In October, a federal appeals court overturned the bribery conviction of a city zoning inspector in Chicago -- on the grounds that the bribes he was convicted of taking were too small to be covered by federal law. Dominick Owens, 46, was convicted of taking two bribes of $600 each to issue certificates of occupancy, but the law applies only to bribes of $5,000 or more.

Not mine!

James White, 30, was arrested in Grove City, Fla., after being stopped by police patrolling a high-burglary neighborhood, and in a consensual search of his pants, officers found a packet of Oxycodone pills for which White did not have a prescription. However, according to the police report, White suddenly exclaimed, "Oh, wait! These aren't my pants!"

Barcode swapping

William Keltner, 52, was arrested in Abilene, Texas, in November, after he underestimated the security at a Wal-Mart self-checkout line. He had taken the barcode off of a $1.17 item, placed it on a $228 TV set, and checked himself out, assuming no one would notice.

Election issues

(1) Robert McDonald tied Olivia Ballou for the final seat on the City Council of Walton, Ky., with 669 votes, but only later found out that his wife (exhausted from a hospital's night shift) had not made it to the polls. The following week, as per voting rules, McDonald and Ballou held a coin flip. Ballou won but relinquished the seat to McDonald for an unrelated reason. (2) Holly Solomon, 28, was arrested in Gilbert, Ariz., a few days after the election when, police said, she chased her husband with her Jeep and rammed him during a drunken rant blaming him for President Obama's victory (though Arizona's electoral votes went solidly for Mitt Romney). Daniel Solomon was hospitalized in critical condition.

'Cave man' on the loose?

An articulate "cave man" of El Paso, Texas, continues to roam his neighborhood, often naked, and to resist efforts to bring him back onto the grid, according to October coverage by El Paso's KVIA-TV. His mountainside subterranean structure, described as "intricate," might be on land owned by the local water utility, which, pending an investigation, could evict him. Some neighbors say they fear the man, who has allegedly swum in their pools and swiped items from their laundry rooms. But he swears that he is harmless. "I'm a plasma donor ... drug free" and "sin-free ... baptized and saved," he told the station. Other neighbors have supported him, he said, and the complainers need to "help the community more."

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