NewsQuirks 337

Hit-and-Miss Proposition A federal trial in Philadelphia that resulted in the conviction of mob boss John Stanfa featured testimony by his inept hit men: Philip Colletti, John Veasey and Rosario Conti Bellocchi. Veasey described using a power drill to torture a man, but explained, "the drill bit broke." He and Colletti said they were driving down a street in August 1993 when they spotted Stanfa's rival, Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, and opened fire. Although they killed his companion, they only wounded Merlino, then realized their car could be traced to Colletti since it was leased in his name. They planned to report it stolen, only first they doused it with gasoline. Just as Colletti tossed a match, Veasey spotted some coins inside and reached for them. At home, he had to soak his severely burned hand in lighter fluid and set it on fire a second time to establish an alibi, informing neighbors who heard his very real screams that he burned himself trying to light a grill. Bellocchi told how he ran into a restaurant and leveled a shotgun at the pizza maker, an out-of-favor gang member. "I put the shotgun in his face and I shoot," Bellocchi testified. "The shotgun didn't go off. I shoot again. Again nothing." Finally, he discovered he had loaded the weapon with the wrong-size shells.Looking for Trouble When a car pulled up next to a city ambulance in Washington, D.C., the three men inside shouted at the driver that he was going too slow. According to Emergency Medical Services spokesperson William McLaughlin, when an ambulance crew member told them to go ahead and pass, one of the men in the car appeared to reach for a weapon. The ambulance driver turned on his emergency lights and headed to the nearest police station. The car followed, and police hadn't far to go to arrest the occupants. Between performances at Edinburgh's Fringe Festival, Oscar, a Labrador retriever billed as the world's only canine hypnotist, ran off. Reuters reported that the owner warned anyone seeing Oscar not to look him directly in the eye.Mensa Reject of the Week Robert Ricketts, 19, told police in Bowling Green, Ohio, after being hit in the head by a train that he was trying to see how close to the moving train he could place his head without being hit.Reach Out and Touch Someone Police in Fort Smith, Ark., arrested Gary Wayne French, 33, on felony drug charges after he mistakenly dialed his phone number which led officers to him. Police in Ogden, Utah, looking for the suspect who stole a pager, along with other items from two cars, activated the pager's number. An hour later, their page was answered, and they traced the call to a motel room, where officers arrested a 13-year-old boy. In Memphis, Tenn., Donna McGee was listening to a police scanner she had gotten as a gift when she overheard a conversation over cordless telephones that turned out to be a murder plot. As other members of her family listened in on the conversation, McGee's daughter recognized the name of a playmate. Once the McGees realized the identity of the intended victim, they notified police, who investigated and charged their neighbor Jacqueline Lee Greene, 32, and Christopher Scott Davis, 21, with conspiring to murder James Kenneth Greene.It Happens Scientists have discovered the origin of feces: the so-called Cambrian explosion, which occurred 544 million years ago. Until then, according to John M. Hayes of Indiana University, the atmosphere had little oxygen. Algae produced some while carrying out photosynthesis, but most of it was consumed when algal cells died and were decomposed by bacteria. Using fossil records, Hayes and his colleagues theorized that the sudden burst of evolutionary diversification gave rise to animals with mouths, guts and anuses that drifted in the ocean and excreted waste. Fecal pellets dense enough to reach the ocean bottom used little oxygen during decomposition, enriching the oxygen in the sea and the atmosphere. In November, British farmer David Cannon, 66, of Newcastle sprayed four tons of cow manure on the offices of the National Westminster Bank. He explained that his five-year dispute with the bank had cost him $158,000 and that he acted "to let people know what these professionals can do to working-class people." The mess took two weeks to clean up, according to bank manager Alan Bell, who noted, "The effluent was too deep to walk into the bank unless you had waders on." Investment banker Gerard Finneran, 58, was charged with assaulting and intimidating a flight attendant in October while flying from Buenos Aires to New York. According to the complaint, a flight attendant who entered the first-class section saw Finneran "with his pants and underwear down defecating on a service cart used by the flight crew. Finneran then used linen napkins as toilet paper and wiped his hands on various service counters and service implements used by the crew. Finneran also tracked feces throughout the aircraft." The flow from the flow of visitors to the nation's two largest artificial lakes has polluted them, prompting officials from Arizona, Utah and the federal government to meet in October to discuss water quality. As many as 10,000 people a night camp along the beaches of Lake Powell and Lake Mead. With only 64 toilets scattered along nearly 3,000 miles of shoreline, some of the tourists go to the bathroom on the open shore. Others dump waste from portable toilets in the water or sand instead of waiting until they get to pumping stations. "I don't know what happens to people," said James Vanderford, chief of maintenance and engineering for the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Boulder City, Nev. "They do their thing where they shouldn't. They leave their inhibitions and training at home. It's really crazy."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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