NewsQuirks 347

Mensa Rejects of the Week Tony Dow, 25, a sheriff's deputy in Butler County, Mo., reported that a stranded motorist he stopped to help shot him in the arm. After a four-day search for the "scruffy-looking" gunman, Sheriff Fred Armes said Dow admitted he had actually wounded himself. After stopping on a rural road to urinate, he was throwing his service pistol in the air when he fumbled and caught it in the crook of his arm, causing it to discharge. An unidentified 26-year-old Spanish airport guard was hospitalized in Madrid after he shot himself while playing Russian roulette. Instead of having the customary one bullet in his revolver, the man had loaded four live rounds. Jeffrey Pollen was hospitalized with burns covering most of his upper body when his wood pellet stove exploded, according to authorities in PrinceWilliam County, Va., after he used gunpowder to get the fire going. Jason Smallwood, 26, had never ridden a bull, but he had practiced on a bucking-barrel mechanical ride before showing up at an indoor rodeo in Bedford County, Va., asking to ride a bull. He lasted about 3 seconds when the bull threw him, then trampled him and tossed him against a fence, killing him. "He said he wanted to try it once," Todd Wood, a friend, noted. "He always wanted to try something once."Over-Organized Crime Ukrainian bandits who menace travelers in eastern Hungary now issue receipts to victims to show any rival gangs they might subsequently encounter. Noting that there were at least 12 such hold-ups in 1995, the European reported the documents certify that the victims have nothing of value left to steal. Another Reason for Term Limits Rhode Island Sen. John Chafee announced he is skeptical of the flat tax because it's too simple. He told Jack Kemp, whose tax commission recently recommended the flat tax, "I've always felt simplicity is the enemy offairness."Land of the Setting Sun Japanese police launched a $40 million security effort before President Clinton's trip to Japan, which had been scheduled for last November until the U.S. budget crisis forced its postponement. The Washington Post reported the national police wrote all 40,000 of the country's registered owners of nailguns, asking them to "try their best" to keep the tools at home, and asked 7,700 licensed sword owners to keep their weapons locked up. Officers also visited the homes of 1,500 motorcycle gang members and politely requested they behave themselves. The Post also reported that Casual Friday is sweeping Japan, where the core work force of nearly 30 million men is being encouraged to dress down. Since many of the workers, especially those over 40, don't own any casual attire, clothing manufacturers and retailers are cashing in on the trend, which experts predict could add up to more than $14 billion in "Friday-wear" apparel purchases. There are also slide shows, lectures and lessons to teach men who have traditionally worn uniform blue, black or gray suits how to dress casually. To avoid shocking customers, the Prudential Life Insurance Co. posted a sign: "Today is our casual day. Please forgive our casual clothes. We humbly ask your kind cooperation." Some companies, worried that workers might take dressing down to extremes, have banned golf wear, bluejeans and track suits. Japan's 20 million working women are still required to dress formally.Thief of Time Florida Circuit Judge John Fennelly ordered court reporter Lark Frantz, 44, jailed for contempt in January for failing to transcribe a pretrial hearingas requested by the Supreme Court in 1994. While court officials watched, Frantz, who offered no reason why she had failed to comply with the original request and four subsequent warnings, finished the transcription in five days.Bye Bye, Big Brother The Senate passed a bipartisan measure to abolish the federal Board of Tea Examiners, which for the past 99 years has met two days a year in a Brooklyn warehouse to sample teas from around the world to determine if they are fit to drink. "Under this measure," sponsor Sen. Hank Brown, R-Colo., said, "Americans will be responsible for determining for themselves what tea they like and don't like."Hair and Now Taleban rebels who run southern Afghanistan decreed that men without beards will not be allowed to hold any job except as street sweepers. Many of the rebels are former Muslim religious students who believe that clean-shaven men go against Islamic practices. In California, murder suspect Sandy Lee Moser, 38, who had appeared at past court hearings with neatly styled hair, asked for a private stylist to trim his hair before the start of his trial because he reportedly didn't want the jury to see the "flat and rather bowl-shaped" cut a fellow inmate gave him at the Humboldt County Jail.All Quiet on the Eastern Front While American peace keepers in Bosnia subsist on MRE combat rations, the Baltimore Sun reported that the British are eating shepherd's pie and curries; the French, pate and cassoulet; the Swedes, smoked reindeer and marinated herring. The Norwegians fly in fresh ingredients and pay their head chef $4,500 a month. "I feel sorry for the Americans," Norwegian chef Janerik Salberg said. "I had one of their meals. It was some meat. But I don't know what kind it was." The Associated Press reported that although the Bosnians have their own currency, called the dinar, they prefer to do business in deutsche marks, saving their own currency for small change. For small purchases, many Bosnian merchants don't even bother with change. Instead, they hand out Bosnian bubble gum, which comes with a color photo of a topless woman.Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citingsource and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306. Odd-news hounds will enjoy the latest compilation, Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest by John J. Kohut and Roland Sweet, published by Penguin Distribution:

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