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Farmers fall foul

Watermelons bursting with pride, fertilizer

Watermelons have been bursting by the score in eastern China after farmers gave them overdoses of growth chemicals during wet weather, creating what state media called fields of "land mines." About 20 farmers near Danyang city in Jiangsu province were affected, losing up to 115 acres of melon, China Central Television reported. Prices over the past year prompted many farmers to jump into the watermelon market. Those with exploding melons apparently were first-time users of the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron, though it has been widely available for some time, CCTV said. Chinese regulations don't forbid the drug, and it is allowed in the United States on kiwi fruit and grapes.

Wacky Warnings

Reading this may affect sanity

Ballpoint pen-chewers, take note: The cap in your mouth can obstruct breathing if swallowed. The 14th annual Wacky Warning Labels contest, sponsored by the Atlanta-based nonprofit group Center for America, named the pen cap caveat among five finalists announced Tuesday. Other finalists include "Does not supply oxygen" on a dust mask; "Avoid drowning. Remove safety cover from spa when in use" on a hot tub cover; "For gun only, not a functional day planner" on a holster designed to look like a personal digital assistant; and a brochure depicting a bicycle rider that warns "The action depicted ... is potentially dangerous. The riders seen are experts or professionals."

Hair-raising crime

Thieves loot locks as price rises

The thieves pulled the iron bars out of the windows, outsmarted the motion detector that would have triggered a burglar alarm and did not give the safe or cash register a second look. Instead, they went straight for what was most valuable: human hair. By the time the bandits at the My Trendy Place salon in Houston were finished, they had stolen $150,000 worth of the shop's most prized type, used for silky extensions. In recent weeks, packages of hair that may have sold for $80 or $100 retail have sold for as little as $25 out of car trunks in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Houston, authorities said.

Corner deal

Salad is offered in drug swap

A Salt Lake City woman was arrested after she asked an undercover officer to give her drugs in exchange for a salad, authorities said. KSL-TV reported that the 33-year-old woman approached an officer working on a street corner known for drug sales. Police said she asked the officer for $10 worth of cocaine but said she only had $2 and an Olive Garden salad in a to-go box. She told the undercover officer she could return a little later with more money or some gift cards to Olive Garden.

Compiled from Times wires.