NewsQuirks 319

OoopsPolice in Wloclawek, Poland, reported in May that four men went fishing with a high-voltage line attached to a net, designed to stun and capture the fish. For a while, everything went according to the poachers' plan, then a 24-year-old man holding the net tripped and fell into the water, electrocuting himself. A traditional Navajo healing ceremony in April went awry, according to police in Window Rock, Ariz., after a fire built in a sealed hut produced enough carbon monoxide to kill three women inside and sicken three other people taking part. A new high-tech Civil War display at Stone Mountain, Ga., features a blue-eyed Robert E. Lee. The Confederate Army general's eyes were actually brown. Baltimore artist Susan Luery said she carefully researched details of Babe Ruth's appearance before creating her 9-foot, 800-pound bronze statue of the baseball player for the north entrance to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The statue, which depicts the Babe when he was a pitcher for the International League Orioles in 1914, shows him leaning on a bat and clutching a right-handed fielder's glove. The real Ruth was left-handed.Fair Warning Georgia's Fulton County Commission last fall enacted a law requiring all guns sold in Atlanta and other parts of the county to bear a warning that firearms increase the likelihood that their owner or other household members will be killed. "We're not telling citizens whether or not they can buy a gun," Commissioner John O'Callaghan said, "but bringing up the seriousness of guns." Japan's Association of Alcoholic Beverage Retailers in May approved a measure requiring that the nation's 200,000 vending machines selling alcoholic beverages be replaced by models that require buyers to display identification cards to prove they are of legal age. A jamming device to deter mobile telephone users in the Italian parliament was turned off in June after several lawmakers said they feared for their virility. The device, which uses microwaves to jam the phones, was installed earlier this year when lower house floor leader Irene Pivetti complained of debates being interrupted by calls. "The rays could influence membranes in the brain and male virility," worried MP Pier Corrado Salino, 63, said. "I want to make the most of what I've still got."High JinksCheap poison used by the New York City health department to control rats is causing them to become "psychotic," according to workers in the Bronx, who complained that the drugged rodents were strolling into offices in broad daylight. Health department spokesperson Sam Friedman denied that the city's extermination efforts were making the rats crazy, but workers also complained that they were finding dead rats in their desk drawers and filing cabinets. Researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center reported varying results when they gave various mind-altering substances to household spiders, then observed their webs. The spiders on marijuana did the best spinning. Dr. David Noever, the head of the research team, said the worst web was spun by a spider loaded up on caffeine.Hazards of FunIn England, 18 of the 20 contestants in Cheltenham's annual cheese-rolling contest were injured, four of them seriously enough to be sent to the hospital with broken arms and legs. Competitors try to win a giant round cheese by rolling smaller versions down a hill. Even a spectator, who tried to get a better view of the event, required treatment when she fell down and hit her head. At a Boy Scout outing at Westernohe, Germany, 650 people took part in a giant tug of war trying to win a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Instead, the nylon rope snapped, sending the two teams tumbling on top of each other, killing two boys and seriously injuring at least 60 others. In Chattanooga, Tenn., Stanley Dewane Farris, 21, joined a tug-of-war between teams of 25 adults at a company picnic in June. After he wrapped the rope around his wrist, a hard tug by the other team severed his hand. British animal rights activist Vicki Moore, 39, was hospitalized in serious condition after being gored nine times during a bull-running festival in Coria, Spain. She was filming a documentary about how the bulls are mistreated, when a half-ton bull attacked her.Plowshares into SwordsThe government of Sri Lanka announced an increase in the excise tax on selected musical instruments to fund its war effort. Deputy Finance Minister G.L. Peiris explained that pianos, harpsichords and other stringed instruments would be taxed 20 percent, up from 5 percent.Oil's WellShell Oil Co. announced in April that it is installing video monitors on some self-service gasoline pumps around the country to air commercials. The 6-inch video screens on top of the pumps switch on when the gas starts flowing and cut off when it stops. Most advertise products available at the station, but Andrea Kleopa, owner of a Shell station just outside Miami, broadcast programs off her satellite dish. A few other stations have used the monitors to broadcast the O.J. Simpson trial. The owners of the tanker Exxon Valdez, which was banned from sailing to Alaska following the massive 1989 oil spill there, applied for a federal subsidy, claiming that the ban is causing the ship to lose money by forcing it into foreign trade. The 211,000-ton tanker, renamed the SeaRiver Mediterranean after it spilled 11 million gallons of oil in Prince William Sound, now carries Middle Eastern oil to Europe.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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