NewsQuirks 350

Spelling Counts Dan O'Connor, 22, filed a suit against a tattoo parlor in Carlstadt, N.J., for misspelling the "Fighting Irish" slogan he paid $125 to have tattooed on his arm. The inscription reads, "Fighing Irish." "I can't just live with this," O'Connor said. "You're not talking about a dented car where you can get another one. You're talking about flesh." A Danish court ordered Pia Agergaard to pay $91 each week for refusing to change the spelling of her son's first name: Christophpher. The mother had been paying weekly fines of $18 since 1989, when a court first ruled that spelling the name with "phph" is illegal."Exciting Extracts The Irish brewer Murphy's unveiled a new brew: oyster stout. Containing extracts of oysters from Ireland's west coast, it is being touted as an aphrodisiac drink. The European reported that the secret ingredient in a face cream developed in Russia as a blood tonic is extract of sturgeon sperm. It sells for $160 a jar.Tax Dollars at Work U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield halted the sale of the Quadro Positive Molecular Locator after government tests indicated the purported drug-and-explosives detector is a fake -- even though several agencies using it insisted they were having good results with it. At least 1,000 of the machines were sold or ordered by schools, prisons, airports and law-enforcement departments, which paid $395 to $8,000 each, according to FBI agent Norman Townsend. The agency's analysis revealed it is nothing more than a hollow plastic box attached to a retractable transistor radio antenna. A purported "chip" inside turned out to be two pieces of plastic surrounding "a small piece of polymer-coated white paper, similar to a candy bar wrapper," Townsend said, adding that employees of the Quadro Corp. admitted the "chip" is "nothing more than photocopy paper."Keep It in Your PantsWhen Venezuelan authorities arrested Judge Rosa Natasha Fernandez, 42, for accepting a bribe during a meeting with a man involved in a lawsuit in her court, they found the $882 in bribe money stuffed in her panties. Deputy Humberto Flores of the Technical Judicial Police reported that 20 officials witnessed the search. In New York City, an 8-year-old Russian immigrant whose penis was shortened and disfigured during a botched circumcision received a $1.2 million settlement. The boy's lawyers contended that the rabbi who performed the ritual, known as a bris, amputated 80 percent of the head of the boy's penis. One lawyer, Stephen Meyers, said experts weren't sure whether the boy would be able to engage in intercourse and father children, but "he will clearly be traumatized by the cosmetic appearance of his genitalia." In Bridgeport, Conn., police called to the scene of a shooting found Kevin Hall, 18, lying on the ground clutching his groin. His pants, which had a large hole, were still smoking. He explained he was the victim of a drive-by shooting, but his girlfriend said Hall had bragged about having a sawed-off shotgun in his pants. When he tried to pull it out to show it to her, it fired, blasting his genitals. To add to his woes, police charged Hall with possession of the weapon.Modern-Day Rasputin When Russian hypnotist and psychic Anatoly Kashpirovsky lost his parliamentary seat in December's elections, he refused to vacate his government-provided apartment in Moscow. The ITAR-Tass news agency reported that he threatened to use his psychic powers to render impotent anyone who tried to evict him.Aviation Follies After Royal Jordanian Airlines received a call that a passenger on an Amsterdam-to-Chicago flight was carrying a bomb, the jet diverted to Iceland, where 224 passengers were forced to wait 15 hours at the Reykjavik airport. Officials traced the call to a Chicago woman, who, airline spokesperson Monib Tukaan said, "didn't want her mother-in-law to come to Chicago. She admitted having made the call and said she didn't think anyone would believe her." A computer case coated with the same plastic used in football helmets traveled an estimated 150,000 miles around the world, but it was no match for the automated baggage system at Denver's new airport. Owner Peter Leabo said the case wasn't on the baggage carousel, and when he did find it, one corner of the empty case was demolished and the cover was lashed on with tape. In a plastic bucket nearby lay the $7,500 computer, its steel casing ripped away, wires dangling and the keyboard warped. "You could have driven a plane over this case," Leabo said. "It wouldn't have suffered this much damage if they'd thrown it out of the cargo hold over Colorado." United issued him a check for $1,200, the airline's maximum for any damaged bag. Eighteen British tourists on a Northwest Airlines flight from London to Minneapolis began throwing food, yelling and swearing at airline attendants who refused to serve them more alcohol. According to airline spokesperson Sara Steig, when the crew could not restore order, three passengers who said they were in training for the U.S. Olympic team "assisted the flight attendants in subduing and restraining the rowdy, almost violent passengers." The wrestlers helped pin several of the British tourists and handcuffed three men to their seats.Overreaction Green Bay, Wis., mill workers Keith Kutska, 44, Dale Basten, 53, Michael Piaskowski, 46, and Michael Johnson, 47, accused co-worker Thomas Monfils, 35, of snitching to police about Kutska's plan to steal an extension cord. The four men were sentenced to life in prison for beating Monfils and throwing him to his death in a vat of wood pulp with a 50-pound weight tied to his neck. A jury in Port St. Lucie, Fla., convicted Victor Brancaccio, 18, of using his Walkman cassette player to beat Mollie Mae Frazier, 78, to death after she chastised him for the vulgarity of the lyrics of a rap song he was singing. The case took an odd turn after the boy's parents, Gene and Lina Brancaccio, lost their home and sold their business to pay for their son's insanity defense, then won a $2.82 million lottery jackpot.Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306. Odd-news hounds will enjoy the latest compilation, "Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest: True News of the World's Least Competent People" by John J. Kohut and Roland Sweet (Plume/Penguin).

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