NewsQuirks 314

Getting Away from It All One of Russia's most feared prisons is offering holidays for the country'snouveaux riches. The seven-day stay at Schlisselburg Fortress, near St.Petersburg, costs $550. Guests remain locked in their cells, with short breaks, and eat only prison food. No vodka is permitted. "We will be treating people like prisoners, although we will not be beating them," holiday organizer Alexander Nefyodov said, describing the experience as "recreational training of the personality." Some New York legislators expressed fear that a state law may be encouraging indigent transsexuals to commit crimes in order to receive free estrogen treatments. The law provides hormones for prisoners who received them before their conviction. Rep. Michael Nozzolio noted that the state spends $700,000 a year on estrogen for 87 male prisoners who are becoming female. Unholy Panic Accused of hijacking an Olympic Airways Boeing 737 flying from Dusseldorf to Athens, Kostas Tsenekides, 24, admitted that he threatened to blow up the aircraft, but only because the pilot refused to make an emergency landing so that he could seek urgent medical treatment. He explained that he accidentally swallowed a crucifix at the start of the flight. In Kansas City, William H. Irvin III was entitled to a government check for $183.69, but because of a computer error received $836,939.19. He spent more than $300,000 before authorities caught up with him and charged him with misconduct. Irvin's defense was that he believed the money was a gift from God because it appeared after he visited a lonely road one night and prayed for the means of self-sufficiency. "If you believe in God, you believe in miracles," Irvin's attorney Willard Bunch told the jury. "He prayed for it, and he got it." Skeptical jurors convicted him. In India last summer, 45,000 Hindus completed a 150-mile pilgrimage to a cave at the top of a 13,000-foot mountain to worship their god, Lord Shiva. They believe he manifests himself there in the form of an icy phallus, a 5-foot-high stalagmite. Because of a hotter-than-usual summer, the upside-down icicle had melted a week before the pilgrimage began. "We are disappointed because the pilgrimage remains incomplete," said Mahant Atma Prakash Shastri, a Hindu priest who said he believes the ice melted because Hindus are sinning too much. Mississippian Joel Ford filed a lawsuit against the Bible, seeking $45 million from Oxford University Press and others on the grounds that it is hearsay and that it oppresses blacks and homosexuals. According to U.S. News & World Report, Ford had to drop the suit, before it reached court, for lack of funds. Nancy Bell, 46, had applied to join the Zion Lutheran Church in East Moline, Ill., and was serving a probationary period while members evaluated her, when she accidentally crashed her car into the church one morning just after one o'clock and was arrested on DUI charges. No Non-Scents The Japanese firm Pigeonwell Corp. unveiled Hiba Clean, a line of anti-bacterial maternity underwear that keeps its cypress scent and fights germs through 60 washings. Katakura Industries introduced Aroma Fresh Inners, cotton underwear for men and women that comes embedded with a choice of five scents guaranteed to last for at least 20 launderings. Kanebo announced that it has developed a pheromone-impregnated fabric, from which it will make boxer shorts, handkerchiefs and other apparel. Tiny capsules containing a synthetic version of the chemical, which is found in perspiration, break when worn, releasing the attractant and theoretically making the male wearer irresistible to women. The olfactory allure will endure for 10 washings. Researchers at England's Leeds University have developed a system that can distinguish people by their smell 90 percent of the times. The system, called Sentinel, was commissioned by a security company, Mastiff Electronics Systems, and is designed to mimic the processes that take place in the mammalian nose when it sniffs at something. Low-Speed Chase In Texas, police arrested Bryan Peek, 20, after officers spotted him driving erratically and chased his pickup truck for 100 miles. He never broke the speed limit, although he ran several red lights as he led officers through Grand Prairie, Arlington, Irving and Dallas. "He was having a good time," Grand Prairie police Officer Steve Courson said. "He was sticking out his tongue and taunting the officers. And it turned out he was not drunk." Every Tom, Dick and Harry China is running out of names. China Youth News reported that there are only some 3,100 last names for 1.2 billion people and a finite number of first names. In Tianjin, for example, more than 2,300 people are named Zhang Li. In Telemark, Norway, an ambulance crew surprised a 44-year-old man named Leif standing in his shower. The medics insisted he was seriously ill and had to be rushed to a hospital 30 miles away. He protested but was taken anyway. Doctors found him fit but advised him to come back the next day, according to Oslo's Verdens Gang newspaper. It reported that the ambulance should have picked up a 57-year-old man also named Leif and with the same last name. Besides identical names, the men shared the same family doctor, lived in the same apartment building and had both visited a clinic for tests on the same day. The ambulance driver admitted the Leif they saw looked healthy. Happening to spot the other Leif, the driver remarked that he didn't look so well and should report to the hospital also. He arrived by car shortly after the 44-year-old Leif and was informed he had already been admitted. Finally, the paper said, the two Leifs wound up in the same room, confusing doctors during morning rounds the next day. Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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