NewsQuirks 354

JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE When Denver postal clerk John Pitney, 50, reported for duty wearing a dress and exhibiting what authorities called "some bizarre behavior," he was escorted out of the building. Apparently angry over his ejection, Pitney returned to the downtown mail facility twice, still wearing the dress but adding accessories, including a gorilla mask and something postal inspector John Freeman described as "a strap-on sexual device." Police were notified and arrested Pitney after finding several guns, including a high-powered rifle, two hunting knives and parts of a gorilla costume in his pickup truck.SECOND-AMENDMENT FOLLIES After his application to carry five semiautomatic handguns was denied, emergency-room doctor Jerald O'Brien argued his case all the way to New York's highest court. O'Brien, who already had a license to carry four of the weapons, told the licensing officer who rejected his application that he wanted more guns because "it makes me feel better." Court of Appeals Judge Carmen Ciparick ruled that O'Brien couldn't demonstrate "a need, or much less, any reason" for carrying five guns.CURSES, FOILED AGAIN Miami police arrested three suspects in the robbery of a grocery store after they pulled their guns and two of the them shot each other. Witnesses said the three gunmen ordered the clerks to the floor and demanded that the cash register be opened. Jeanis Caty, 18, started to reach over the counter to grab the money but accidentally fired his gun, striking Wesley Steny, 16, in the thigh. Surprised and in pain, Steny tripped over clerk Mariano Gonzalez, causing him to fire off a round that hit Caty in the leg. "I've had robbers shoot themselves before," Detective Tom Pellechio of Miami's Metro-Dade police said, "but I never had two robbers shoot each other."EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG Artificial flavorings may actually be good for your health, according to researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics. Lillian M. Ingster and Dr. Manning Feinleib told an American Heart Association conference in San Francisco that salicylates, a chemical cousin of aspirin found in many artificial flavors, could, like aspirin itself, reduce the risk of heart attacks by preventing blood clots. Feinleib explained that the amount of salicylates in processed foods that people take in equals one children's aspirin a day, a dosage frequently recommended to ward off heart attacks in older people. The researchers offered as "a plausible hypothesis" that an abrupt decline in heart disease starting in the mid-1960s coincided with the widespread use of salicylates in artificial flavorings. Brain power doesn't diminish with old age, according to scientists using new imaging techniques who discovered that brain shrinkage because of aging is relatively modest. "We used to think that you lost brain cells every day of your life everywhere in the brain," said Marilyn Albert, a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "That's just not so."BALL AND CHAIN Instead of returning Tonya Kline, a rebellious 15-year-old with a history of delinquency, to a Columbia, S.C., detention center until her sentencing on charges of truancy, shoplifting and breaking into a house, Family Court Judge Wayne Creech on Dec. 7 ordered her chained to her mother, Deborah Harter, 24 hours a day. Tonya was instructed to wear a traditional prisoner's belt with wrist and ankle shackles. Harter was told to hold a metal ring attached to the belt by a short chain and to accompany her daughter everywhere -- except to the bathroom. A week after the two were tethered, Harter complained to reporters that she and her husband, Richard, weren't able to spend any time alone together or go out with friends. "This is a very stressful situation the judge has put me in," she said. "I feel like I've got a sentence here as well." On Dec. 18, the judge said the mother and daughter could switch from the leather belt and metal shackles to a nylon belt with a strap and that Harter could share responsibility for holding onto Tonya with her husband. On Dec. 20, Harter acknowledged that she was being charged with contempt of court after being accused of letting go of the tether and smoking a cigarette while accompanying her daughter to school. Harter denied the allegations, but admitted, "I'm having a hard time getting adjusted to this." On Jan. 9, Harter was rushed to the hospital for overdosing on a prescription drug for anxiety. Her husband assumed responsibility for holding his stepdaughter's leash. On Feb. 8, Richard Harter had to return to his job, so the judge asked the state to arrange for a hired helper to hold Tonya's leash. He ordered the mother to pay $25 a month for the service. Finally, on Feb. 13, Creech ordered Tonya placed in state custody, saying her home was no place for her to be and that to return her there "is an invitation to disaster."THE AMERICAN WAY An ad in the journal of the California Dental Association promises dentists who use "Phasealloy," a brand of dental amalgam used for filling teeth, that each purchase will earn them frequent flyer miles on American Airlines. Pointing out that "not everyone thinks airline food is a joke," American said its reservation clerks were flooded with calls from people seeking copies of its new cookbook, which tells how to re-create the "subtle flavors and tantalizing aromas" of airline cuisine in their own kitchens. "Because some of our customers frequently request recipes so they can prepare their in-flight favorites at home, we asked our executive chefs to adapt a few of these new recipes" for smaller portions, according to the preface to the airline's 18-page booklet of recipes, "A Taste of Something Special."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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