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NewsQuirks 370

TRY DRIVING ON THE PROPER SIDE OF THE ROADAfter taking 1,500 lessons over the past 26 years, Britain's Sue Evan-Jones finally worked up the courage to take her driving test. She failed. "I get very nervous behind the wheel," she told the Times of London. "If I do something wrong, I just start shaking and my mind goes blank."IN THE DARKSgt. Joseph J. Wollitz, a corrections officer at Florida's Duval County Jail, hatched a plan to scare two visiting juveniles into leading law-abiding lives by staging a fight among three inmates. When Wollitz asked for permission, a supervisor said no, but the prisoners were never told. When the fake fight broke out, guards, including Wollitz, subdued the inmates with pepper spray. Wollitz was suspended by Corrections Director John Rutherford, who explained, "We can't ask inmates to perform violent acts with each other to impress anyone."SING IT LOUDThere was dismay in Dublin, the European reported, when Ireland won the Eurovision Song Contest for the fourth time in five years. The runaway victory by 23-year-old Eimear Quinn obligates his country to host next year's contest, and critics there are concerned about the cost of putting on the show again. This year's event was staged in Oslo. Norway won last year even though third-place Sweden gave the Norwegian song zero points. The Norwegians called the Swedes sore losers. Five times in the past 10 years, Swedish judges have given the Norwegian entry zero points. Three times the Norwegians have given the Swedes zero points. Contestant Miriam Christine Borg, who sang for Malta, reportedly went to confession immediately after her performance. A devout Catholic, she apparently felt guilt about wearing a miniskirt in the competition.SILVER LININGAfter Lars Bildman, the chief executive of the pharmaceutical company Astra USA, was fired in June following accusations that he replaced older women with younger, more attractive women, pressured female employees to have sex and embezzled $2 million, Astra board member Lars Ramqvist was quoted in the Swedish magazine Maanadens Affaerer as saying: "Of course it's not good with sex scandals, but in the U.S. this has helped us get out Astra's name without having to pay expensive advertising fees."WRONG ARM OF THE LAWOut with 40 members of his bachelor party, Drug Enforcement Administration agent Pete Sinclair, 28, objected to a $5 cover charge at a topless nightclub in Houston and got into a gunfight with the club's owner, Stavros Fotinopoulos, 38, and manager, Lynn Clayton Turner, 39. Fotinopoulos was shot five times and Sinclair twice. Donald Ferrarone, DEA agent in charge in Houston, said Sinclair fired first.Boston Municipal Police officers Matthew Shea, 26, Mark P. Atlee, 29, and Barry Maguire, 27, attending National Police Week ceremonies in Washington, D.C., to remember officers slain in the line of duty, were arrested after they ate at a Georgetown restaurant, ran out on an $18 bill and threatened the manager when he ran after them to collect the money. The incident marked the second year of National Police Week disruptions. Last May, as many as 100 New York City police officers, described by city Police Commissioner William Bratton as "morons and nitwits," reportedly went on a drunken rampage at downtown Washington and suburban Virginia hotels. Witnesses said officers fired their weapons into the air, groped women, sprayed fire extinguishers into one hotel's ventilation system, stripped naked and took turns sliding down the beer-soaked center strip of an escalator, stole license plates and set off fire alarms, causing middle-of-the-night evacuation of guests. Following a two-month investigation, one officer resigned after testing positive for cocaine and 29 officers were reprimanded for taking their guns out of state.DOESN'T ADD UPAfter Rutgers University math professor Walter Petryshyn, 67, was charged with beating his wife to death with a hammer, longtime friend Bohdan Boychuk said Petryshyn may have been driven insane by a math error he made. After Petryshyn published the textbook Generalized Topological Degree and Semilinear Equations, Boychuk "noted very drastic changes" in his friend, he said. "He discovered that there was some mistake in that book and he told me that mistake was very serious, very big and he couldn't solve it." Actually, Petryshyn's publisher, Cambridge University Press, considered the error a minor omission and said the book was well-received and selling well. His editor, Lauren Cowles, dismissed the mistake as "a technicality" and had dealt with it by sending corrections to reviewers for academic journals.FURRY FRAULEINSA survey of European women by the electrical products maker Rowenta found underarm shaving is most common in the United Kingdom (86 percent) and least common in Germany (22 percent).WELL-ORGANIZEDThe evidence against Travis Crabtree, 15, charged with murdering Seeta Haddadi during a holdup at a Dallas beauty salon, includes a floor plan of the shop and step-by-step instructions that included a reminder to kill his victim. The boy's mother turned the checklist over to police.SPLITSVILLEWhen rock star Bob Geldorf and Paula Yates divorced in May after 10 years of marriage, he agreed to give her his London house. In exchange, he got the house down the road owned by her lover, INXS star Michael Hutchence, whose baby she is expecting.At a divorce trial in Eskilstuna, Sweden, discussion of how the couple's property would be divided were under way when, according to the news agency TT, the husband pulled a dynamite charge from his pocket, shouted demands at court officials, detonated the bomb and killed himself.PRE-KIDNAPPINGEggs were stolen from at least nine women who were anesthetized for what they thought were routine diagnostic surgical procedures at the University of California at Irvine's Center for Reproductive Heath, according to the Orange County Register. The paper reported the ova were implanted in other women and resulted in three births.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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