NewsQuirks 353

SPEND ALL YOU WANT, WE'LL PRINT MORE Contractors building a $3.6 million control tower at the Redmond, Ore., airport complained about the government's insistence that they install a $5,000 vacuum system to clean a 500-square-foot space. The Federal Aviation Administration specified a 2-horsepower, 230-volt, three-phase, 60-hertz vacuum, which Steven McGinnis, operations manager for the project's mechanical contractor, called "just huge overkill. I mean, they could go down and buy themselves a $100 Hoover and do the same thing." FAA spokesperson Tim Pile defended the requirement, explaining, "The engineers have built a number of these towers, and I think they know what they're doing." St. Louis airport officials announced plans to spend $420,000 to build seven separately ventilated rooms to accommodate passengers and employees who smoke. City Airport Director Leonard Griggs said the airlines serving Lambert Field will pay for the rooms, which are scheduled to open this fall. Anti-smoking activists said the rooms can only improve the environment at the airport, which Pat Lindsey of the American Stop Smoking Intervention Study called "the ashtray of the Midwest."OOPS! In Japan, Teruo Mochizuki, a right-wing activist upset over the government's proposed bailout of failed housing lenders, decided to make his opposition known by smashing his car into the Finance Ministry's offices. He apparently misread his street map, however, and ended up two blocks away, stuck in a steel barrier outside the National Police Agency, where he was arrested.QUEST FOR FAT Fearing that an ammonia leak at a Dreyer's Ice Cream plant in Union City, Calif., might have affected the taste of its ice cream, company officials tried to bury 600,000 gallons of it without any publicity. Word got out, however, and officials reported a mob of people descended on the ranch where the ice cream was being buried to grab a few gallons before it melted. Dreyer's asked the ranch owners to stop the people, but the owners also had to turn away about 90 trucks that had been hauling in the ice cream. After Dreyer's had already covered about two acres with $6 million worth of ice cream, Stanislaus County officials informed the company that although burying contaminated ice cream isn't illegal, burying the paper and plastic containers it comes in is.THAT'S ALL, FOLKS McLean Stevenson, who played MASH commander Henry Blake on television, died of a heart attack on Feb. 15. The next day, Roger Bowen, who played Henry Blake in the film version of MASH, died, also of a heart attack. Last year, Canadian football's Ottawa Rough Riders drafted a player who had died nearly five months earlier. This March, the league's Montreal Alouettes selected James Eggink of Northern Illinois in the college draft, only to learn a few hours later that he had died three months before. "I'm not making excuses," Alouettes owner Jim Speros told Canadian Press, noting the draft list had 560 names and "the research process can be very difficult." Frustrated because he was having trouble with his computer, University of Delaware student Robert Keepers, 19, smashed his fist through his dormitory room window. His roommate said Keepers then lost his balance and fell 13 stories to his death. Police in Santa Rosa, Calif., reported that Gary Bowers had been bothered by woodpeckers and tried using a pellet gun to drive them away. Unsuccessful, he bought a shotgun. The first time he went to use it, he slipped on his front porch on the way to his targets and the gun fired, killing him. Ten minutes into the premiere of "The Makropulos Case" at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, tenor Richard Versalle, 63, sang the line, "You can only live so long," then dropped dead from a heart attack. In Albany, N.Y., Salvation Army worker Michael Raughter, 57, was crushed to death when a 1,180-pound bundle of donated clothing fell on him. Williamsport, Pa., authorities who found the body of would-be burglar Henry Carlton, 41, wedged halfway through a basement window concluded that he froze to death because the two sweat shirts and bulky coat that he was wearing to keep warm stopped him while squeezing through the 15-by-18-inch window. "Now he's wedged in there, he's on his stomach, the more he struggles, the more his clothing bunches up against him, his feet are off the ground, and he can't get any leverage," Lycoming County Coroner George Gedon explained, concluding that Carlton passed out from the pressure on his chest and abdomen, then froze. Herman Lorenz, 88, was killed while walking home in Northbrook, Ill, when he stepped around a railroad crossing gate and into the path of an oncoming Amtrak train whose warning horn was sounding. A son, Gerry Lorenz, said the accident occurred at the same crossing where his father had survived the crash of a train and school bus in 1926. The train sliced through the bus, killing two people, including Lorenz's seatmate. After scoring a hole-in-one on the 129-yard fourth hole at California's Panorama Village Golf Course, Peter Sedore, 83, collapsed on the next hole and died from an aneurysm. Two guests at a wedding in Copenhagen, Denmark, died and nine others were wounded when a 36-year-old Turkish immigrant at the festivities celebrated according to his custom by drawing a pistol and firing 12 shots into the air. The bullets ricocheted off the concrete ceiling and struck the victims. George DelVecchio, 47, underwent an angioplasty to clear a blocked artery after he suffered a heart attack last October. Less than a month later, the convicted child-killer was executed at Illinois' Stateville Correctional Center, despite his lawyers' protest that the medication he was taking while recuperating from the surgery clouded his judgment and made him unfit to be executed.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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