NewsQuirks 342

Mensa Reject of the Year (So Far) Three months after his indictment on charges stemming from having sex with a 15-year-old girl, Edward L. Jeffords, 21, of Perryville, Md., appeared with three of his friends on The Jerry Springer Show to tout the advantages of having sex with minors. "You must have rocks in your head," Cecil County Circuit Judge Dexter M. Thompson Jr. told Jeffords just before sentencing him to five years in prison. "Not only do you do this, do the offense, get indicted, and then you go on the show and talk about it."Weighty Matters Nutrition labels on food might actually be making people's diets worse, according to Purdue University researcher Richard Mattes. As part of a project to show that what people know about food determines how much they eat, Mattes found that when subjects were told that the lunch he served them was low in fat, they ate more during the rest of the day than subjects who were told that the lunch contained normal levels of fat. Both groups received the same lunch. "There's no question," Matte concluded, that people who choose low-fat foods some of the time overcompensate by eating too much at other times.Beauty's Only Skin Deep Accused of stabbing her mother-in-law to death, Hu Pao-yin, 35, told police in Taiwan, "I am the most beautiful woman in the world, and the existence of other women is unnecessary." In Dhaka, Bangladesh, Andan Kazir was so distraught over the death of his wife that he had her skinned so he could wear her pelt as a coat. A 21-year-old Ukrainian man accused of killing a woman and making a brassiere and shorts out of her skin told a court that he did it to calm his nerves.Seer Suckers The CIA confirmed that for 20 years the government secretly used psychics to gather intelligence information. The extra-sensory perception spying operation, code-named "Stargate," cost taxpayers $20 million. It employed as many as six psychics, who were consulted more than 200 times for remote viewing -- using ESP to provide information from distant sites, such as helping hunt down Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi, finding plutonium in North Korea and aiding drug enforcement agencies. Former Orange County, Calif., Finance Director Eileen Walsh told a grand jury that Robert L. Citron, 70, the former county treasurer whose ill-fated investments pushed the county into bankruptcy, relied on interest rate forecasts from a mail-order astrologer and regularly consulted a psychic. In Spokane, Wash., Michael and Diane Moore filed a lawsuit against the Nine Mile Falls School District accusing middle-school teacher Joanne Bovey of forcing their daughter, Kate, to attend prayer sessions and religious counseling after the girl confided that she and a friend had used a Ouija board.Your Money or Your Life Kidnappers in the Philippines have become so brazen that they accept checks for ransom. According to the Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order, a crime-watch organization in Manila, many of the 155 people kidnapped for ransom in 1995 paid with checks ranging from $11,500 to more than $38,000. Asiaweek magazine reported that some Philippine kidnappers now demand a ransom before abducting the victim. Others are willing to haggle over the amount. A recent case involved construction magnate Felipe Cruz, who was dining in a Manila restaurant when a man informed him he would be kidnapped sometime after dessert. When Cruz was shown other men waiting in cars outside the restaurant to abduct him, he paid -- but only after negotiating the would-be kidnappers' demand down from $1.15 million to $385,000. In Guatemala, the sister and brother-in-law of 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu admitted faking the kidnapping of their 22-month-old son to try to extort money from the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner. "We needed money, but we knew Rigoberta would never give us any," Cristina Menchu said, "so we decided to ask for ransom money."Tours to Hell The World Tourism Organization and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization announced plans to turn Africa's slave route into a tourist attraction. The groups would help restore sites such as forts along the Ghanaian coast. The Polish government hired former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren to help with a media campaign to make Warsaw trendy. He called the media campaign "a tough old gig," but told W magazine, "there's a fantastic energy there."Cork It A buildup of methane from 72 flatulent pigs in the hold of a South African Airways set off fire alarms, forcing the aircraft to turn back. Pacer Technologies announced the development of a new Super Glue designed to prevent salmonella contamination by sealing the rectums of chickens and turkeys.Does Anybody Have Two Newts for a Gates? Fifteen percent of people surveyed for Visa International said they wanted to see more contemporary faces on U.S. paper money.Lebensraum Rhinos, hippos and elephants should be allowed to die out to make way for grazing land for domestic animals, according to soil expert Munro Munnik of the University of South Africa. Arguing that the wild animals serve no useful purpose and that conservation efforts on their behalf are "unrealistic," Munnik said scientists should "start immediately to plan how to use all natural resources for the benefit of mankind."Oops! A cable television company in Oroville, Calif., mistakenly broadcast a test message from the National Weather Service warning that the Oroville Dam had burst.Stunted Growth Ireland's tallest man, 7-foot-4 Mick Coulter, was scheduled to launch a non-smoking campaign in Ulster schools until he was convicted of stealing cigarettes from a gas station in Lifford. David McLean, 73, a movie and television actor who appeared for many years as the rugged Marlboro Man in television commercials, died in October of lung cancer. He joined Wayne McLaren, who portrayed the "Marlboro Man in print ads and who died in 1992 at age 51, also of lung cancer.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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