NewsQuirks 344

Living Well Is the Best Revenge Anne Scheiber worked as an auditor for the Internal Revenue Service for 23 years, never earning more than $4,000 a year and never being promoted despite having a law degree. When she retired in 1944, she invested her $5,000 savings in the stock market. By the time she died last year at age 101, her investment had grown to $22 million. According to her attorney, she bequeathed almost the whole sum to New York's Yeshiva University to fund scholarships for Jewish female students to help them overcome the sort of discrimination that had embittered her. Andre-Francois Raffray was 47 when he proposed paying 90-year-old Jeanne Calment $500 a month until she died, at which time he would move into her grand apartment in Arles, France. Raffray's deal seemed like a bargain, but 30 years later he died at age 77, having paid $184,000 to Calment, who in October at age 120 was declared the world's oldest living person. Although Raffray already paid more than twice the apartment's current market value, his agreement obligates his widow to keep sending a monthly check as long as Calment lives.Wrong Place, Wrong Time Three men in a stolen car trying to elude police in Alexandria, Va., decided to ditch the car. They stopped on the shoulder of an expressway and ran north -- directly toward Alexandria Police headquarters. When pursuing officers sounded the alert, K-9 officers and their dogs were outside conducting a training session. In addition, the department was changing shifts, so there were nearly twice as many officers around headquarters as usual. At least 20 officers and several K-9 dogs gave chase, quickly arresting the suspects, according to police Lt. John Crawford, who noted, "So many units responded to the call, it would be hard to credit each unit."Strange Bedfellows A loophole in state law let three convicted felons run for sheriff in three Mississippi counties last fall. They won. "This really makes us look kind of dumb," Public Safety Commissioner Jim Ingram said. "I can only believe that many voters did not know the situation." State Attorney General Mike Moore, noting that state law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from bearing arms, said any of the three new sheriffs who carry a gun would be arrested.Crime and Punishment The government of Chile spent $2.5 million to build a luxury prison north of Santiago that will hold only former secret police boss Gen. Manuel Contreras and his colleague Pedro Espinoza. Officials said a 15-foot wall built around the facility is intended not to keep the two inmates inside but to keep snooping reporters out.We're from the Government, We're Here to Help Fish and Wildlife Service scientists in Tacoma, Wash., announced plans to kill about 40 sea ducks called surf scoters to try to determine why their numbers are declining. Thailand's tax department announced a new levy on products and services that harm the environment. Massage parlors are included, the department said, because they provide a luxury service that wastes water.Carry-On Bags Must Fit in the Overhead Compartment Two men and a woman kidnapped Jason Stanley, 21, of Gravette, Ark., tied him up with plastic handcuffs and duct tape, then locked him in a soft-sided, zippered suitcase, which they kept in their back seat for four days while driving through Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. At one stop, a 4-year-old girl claimed she heard a voice coming from the suitcase until the abductors convinced her luggage couldn't talk. Finally, Stanley talked them into releasing him, sore and bruised but otherwise unharmed. "He's about 6-foot," Benton County sheriff's investigator Sgt. Sam Blankenship pointed out, "but he's got a slender build."Pay Attention New York City police accused Michael Vernon of killing five people in a Bronx shoe store in December after being told that the shoes he wanted were not in stock. Following Vernon's arrest, Patrolman Ronald Rodriguez told the Daily News that when Vernon had been arrested for misdemeanor assault five months earlier, he admitted taking part in another shooting and offered information about a sniper attack on two police officers. Rodriguez said that he urged detectives to interview Vernon three times. Each time, he was ignored. Vernon was given a desk appearance ticket and released after three hours. Even so, he lingered in the station, still waiting to talk.Dutch Treat Because land is unavailable for parks in Amsterdam's Zeeburg district, but water is plentiful, officials announced plans to build two gardens atop floating Styrofoam blocks. The floating garden, planted with lawns and trees, will each measure more than 2,000 square feet.Trick Photography While Katie Couric and Willard Scott lauded the giant Dudley the Dragon balloon in New York's televised Thanksgiving Day parade, accompanying shots of the balloon that viewers saw had been taped weeks before during a test run. The real balloon deflated earlier along the parade route after hitting a tree, according to parade producer Jean McFadden, who decided to air the recorded material because "there is nothing as disappointing as running a blank space and saying, 'We're sorry, the balloon didn't make it.'" NBC producer Michael Morrison backed the decision, explaining the broadcast was "an entertainment special. It is not a news special, so it's not like we're duping the audience."Forcible Harmonizing A teenage girl in Taiwan reported that she was out after midnight when she was stopped for an identification check. According to the Far Eastern Economic Review, the officer turned out to be phony. Instead of taking her to a police station, he took her to a hotel and forced her to sing with him.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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