NewsQuirks 367

GOVERNMENT IN ACTIONU.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.) recently wrote to the Department of Agriculture on behalf of Oink-Oink Inc., a Detroit company that the USDA was allowing to buy pork penises "for use as a pet treat." After several months, however, the USDA began to dye the raw penises green. Oink-Oink thought the green dye would make the product unappealing and discontinued it, taking a $100,000 loss and enraging dog owners who loved the treat, called Pork Tenderloins. A USDA spokesperson explained that the penises were dyed green to indicate they were not to be eaten by people.FUN AND GAMES IN CHINAWhen a lack of snow threatened skiing competitions at this year's Asian Winter Games in Yabuli, Manchuria, local farmers gathered snow from valleys and mountains, put it in plastic bags and delivered it on their backs so that the games could begin on schedule, according to the Los Angeles Times. "It was very difficult to find the snow," said one volunteer. "Sometimes you had to go deep in the woods."China announced it has invested $2.4 million in tourism facilities for the Shennongjia region in central Hubei Province, home of the fabled Abominable Snowman. In addition to opening a park and museum dedicated to the Yeti, the government is promoting the area to Chinese and foreign travel agencies. Despite years of searching for the elusive creature, the only indications that it actually exists are thousands of giant footprints and reddish-brown hairs collected by some villagers.CYBERSPACE CADETJudith Kraines, county controller of Reading, Pa., complained at a county commissioners' meeting that she had to use a typewriter because her computer was old and no one had been able to get it to work for two years. Three days later, she announced that she had discovered what was wrong with her computer and now it was working fine. It had not been plugged in.TAKE THE HINTTwice in three months, Charlie Tomlinson's obituary appeared in the Roanoke (Va.) Times. The newspaper explained that its employees twice misinterpreted a fax from Tomlinson, director of the Tomlinson Funeral Home, announcing someone else's funeral and inserted Tomlinson's name as the deceased.GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE ETC.Brandon T. Lally, 23, of Reston, Va., was preparing to leave a party to play basketball, but his sister didn't want him to take his 9mm semi-automatic pistol with him. To show her that it was safe, Lally removed the magazine, placed the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. The gun fired, killing Lally.CURSES, FOILED AGAINAfter Pelham, N.H., house painter Phillip W. Cappella, 34, won a $2.7-million lottery jackpot that paid him $135,000 a year, he filed a tax return listing $135,716 in winnings and claiming a $65,000 deduction for gambling losses, saving himself about $20,150 in federal taxes. When he was audited, he produced 200,000 losing scratch-off tickets to back up his claim. Federal prosecutors said that rather than buying and scratching off 550 tickets every day for a year, Cappella actually got the tickets all at once, renting them for $500 from a man who collected them from various sources, including the trash. "The one consistent theme in virtually all white-collar criminal cases is greed," said Mark Pearlstein, chief of the U.S. Attorney's Office Economic Crimes Unit, "and it's my view that this case is well within that theme."When Peter Laurence Axelrod, 49, robbed a bank in Oakland Mills, Md., he made certain to look directly at the bank's video camera, placed his hands on the counter to leave his fingerprints and wrote in his holdup note that he would be waiting at his apartment. Quickly arrested, the $58,000-a-year personnel director at an industrial seal manufacturer in Baltimore explained he was tired of paying child-support and figured he would be sent to a federal "country-club" prison. Instead, he was booked on state charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 25 years in a state penitentiary. Suddenly Axelrod was eager to beat the charge, and his lawyer argued that prosecutors failed to prove his actions constituted a bank robbery.MILITARY INTELLIGENCEWhen an Army recruiter in Leesburg, Fla., told a woman trying to decide between the Army and the Navy that the Navy couldn't guarantee her training for an intelligence job, a Navy recruiter went next door and told the Army recruiter that indeed it could. An hour later, three Army sergeants, one swinging a crowbar, tried to trash the Navy office. According to police, two Marines rushed to help the Navy. One was hit in the head with the crowbar, and the other got a black eye. Despite the Army's victory, it lost the recruit. "She is singing up with us," Chief Petty Officer James Hutchins said. "She said she wasn't too impressed with the Army."OMNIVORE'S DIGESTGarbage dumps are the farms of the future, according to a United Nations report warning that as sprawling cities eat up former farmland, "the capacity of the immediate surroundings cannot keep up with the growing and changing food demand." The report noted necessity has already forced some 800 million Third World people to turn to urban agriculture, including 20,000 people who farm the garbage dumps in Calcutta.An Asian-American advocacy group objected to an ad for the Crunch Fitness centers that appeared in several New York City newspapers, including the Village Voice. "I work out at Crunch because part of my job is to capture stray dogs and cats, which requires that I be light on my feet," says the ad, which is signed by "Crunch member No. 2871, cook, Chinese take-out." Cindy Ming, a founder of ASIA (Awareness Sought in Advertising) complained, "The implied 'joke' is neither funny nor cutting-edge advertising."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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