NewsQuirks 375

NEW-AGE KOSHERAn Israeli communications satellite launched into space in May was designed to follow Jewish law by not operating on the Sabbath and holy days. The Itim news agency reported that religiously observant scientists who helped plan the Amos satellite insisted that its main motor rest on the days specified in the Bible. Yigal Banat, head of the trajectory monitoring team, noted that the satellite's launch on a Friday just before the Feast of Weeks holiday made the observance particularly difficult; nevertheless, "the management of the Amos program decided to abide by this constraint in order not to break the Sabbath in Israel."CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUEConvicted murderers John Sosnovske, 42, and Laverne Pavlinac, 62, served four years of their life sentences before they were released when the real killer confessed. The Oregon couple had been convicted in the first place because Pavlinac confessed to killing 23-year-old Taujna Bennett and implicated Sosnovske. At her trial, Pavlinac testified she made up the whole story because she was trying to escape an abusive relationship with Sosnovske. The jury believed her original, taped confession, however, leaving Sosnovske to plead no contest so he could avoid the death penalty. Last year, Keith Hunter Jesperson insisted that he alone killed Bennett, as well as seven other women, earning the epithet "Happy-Face Killer" for confessing to the crimes to news outlets in letters, each adorned with a drawing of a smiling face.HANDS OFFICIALLY OFFThailand's tourism authority officially warned South Korean visitors not to eat the bears, which are considered a delicacy in South Korea but are protected by Thai law. The warning came after police arrested five South Korean tourists whose van was discovered filled with the paws and entrails of six bears.Australia's Queensland state officially advised professional crocodile handlers not to "place any part of one's body in the mouth of a crocodile." Written for the state's burgeoning crocodile industry, including 17 game farms and parks, the government-published Workplace Health and Safety guide also mentions the occupational hazards of collecting crocodile eggs, "show" feeding and capturing adult crocs -- especially if the boat is smaller than the reptile. Under the heading Unsafe Activities, the guide further warns: "Do not sit on the back of a crocodile."The U.S. Forest Service officially closed the Rod and Gun Campground in South Dakota's Little Spearfish Canyon to protect campers from porcupines, which were discovered slipping under campers' vehicles and gnawing through brake lines to drink the brake fluid. "I assume a lot of petroleum products have salt content; that's generally what porcupines are looking for when they chew signs, buildings, paint or anything like that," said Forest Service spokesperson Galen Roesler. "Obviously, if people get in their car in the morning and start down the canyon and suddenly don't have brakes, it's a real hazard."ODD ENDSMichael P. Olson, 13, was found dead in Eau Claire, Wis., with his entire head wrapped in duct tape and a roll of duct tape next to the body. Police, who concluded the tape suffocated the boy, discovered another roll and wads of tape in his bedroom. Michael's sister, Errin Olson, 19, told police her brother was "simply obsessed with any kind of tape."In England, Mark Gleeson, 26, suffocated in his sleep after stuffing two tampons up his nose to stop his snoring. Told by doctors after a car accident eight years earlier that his snoring was incurable, he was spending the night with his girlfriend in Haslemere, Surrey, and stuck two of her tampons up his nose and secured them with tape before going to sleep on her sofa.LITTER CONTROLCanada's government proposed banning for-profit pregnancies, including paid surrogate motherhood and the sale of eggs, sperm and embryos, making it one of a handful of countries to set limits on reproductive technology. The bill also forbids sex selection of babies, cloning of human embryos, creation of animal-human hybrids and other reproductive and genetic technologies.Scientists at 32 British fertility clinics destroyed 3,300 frozen embryos that were declared abandoned by a new law limiting the storage of human embryos to five years. The measure requires the donor couples to notify clinics to extend storage for up to five more years. "It has been very distressing and frustrating for everyone," said Professor Ian Craft, director of a London test-tube clinic where 200 embryos were thawed and incinerated. "They should have given people a year's grace to claim unclaimed embryos."When Mandy Allwood, 31, learned she was expecting octuplets, she signed an exclusive contract for $530,000 with Britain's News of the World tabloid, which presented the first installment under the headline, "I'M GOING TO HAVE ALL MY 8 BABIES." Despite risks to the health of her babies and herself if she tries to deliver all eight babies, an unprecedented event, Allwood told the News "as far as I am concerned, the more the merrier." Although she gets nothing but expenses if the babies die before they're born, the News will pay if only some survive. "If she loses two or three children," editor Phil Hall said, "we are still very interested in her story and the deal stands."INTERGALACTIC FISH'N'CHIPSA month before scientists announced that a meteorite found in Antarctica indicates life once existed on Mars, radio astronomers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported finding evidence of vinegar in a stellar cloud 25,000 light years from Earth. The vinegar "could have been one of the first steps toward the chemicals of life," said researcher Lewis E. Snyder. "If you add a form of ammonia to it, you get glycine, the simplest biologically important amino acid."Guilty VictimIn England, Dorothy Dunn, 48, was fired from her job at Greater Manchester's Tameside General Hospital for taking three months off after being told by the hospital that she had angina. The diagnosis turned out to be wrong, so the hospital decided her time off was inexcusable.

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