NewsQuirks 377

VEHICULAR MISHAPSDaniel Wilfred Brown, 35, was driving from Daytona to DeLand, Fla., with his girlfriend Shonda Cusack Deux, 26, when she mentioned to him she did not like the way he was driving, according to police, who reported that Brown responded by smacking her across the face. Judie Edwards, spokesperson for the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, said that at a red light, Deux pulled out a .22-caliber gun and shot Brown in his arm.In Mays Landing, N.J., Donald Sprague, 24, called Superior Court Judge Robert Neustadter to say that he would be unable to attend his scheduled sentencing for car theft in Mays Landing, N.J., because his own car had been stolen. "He would have been sentenced but for the fact that he was the victim of his own crime," prosecutor Joel Mayer said. "It's too funny."A hatchet-wielding man who held up a gas station in Bradenton, Fla., made off with $300 but forgot to fill up his tank. Police arrested Jeffrey Alan McLeod, 29, after a brief high-speed chase when his car sputtered to a stop.A man who was shooting at vehicles on interstate highways in Kansas City, Kan., made the mistake of firing a bullet that hit the side door of an unmarked police van driven by crime-scene investigators Gary McIntosh and James Locke. "It missed both of us by inches. Pieces of the bullet ended up beneath our seats, in between us," said McIntosh, whose call for backup led to the arrest of Michael Regan, 22.FAMILY MATTERSBrain Smith, 42, of Purdy, Mo., was accused of confining his three children, ages 6, 9 and 12, in separate 55-gallon metal drums before leaving for work. Officials did acknowledge that food and water were put in with the children.In Cape Coral, Fla., Richard DiTusa, 41, was given a year in jail for forcing his wife to wear a necklace like a dog collar with a leash attached, to drink from a toilet bowl and to let their children ride on her naked.Robert Barzyk was sentenced to 30 days in jail for oinking at his ex-wife whenever he saw her walk past his house in Pennbrook, Pa. Rachel Nickle, who lives several houses from her ex-husband, said he made pig and elephant noises for nine years. Deputy District Attorney Diana Woodside added that last year he began supplementing the animal sounds by playing "Old MacDonald" on a cassette player.BIRD BRAINThinking they heard a child in danger, police in Genoa, Italy, broke into an apartment only to discover a bird singing, Mama, mama, help!" The bird, an Indian song thrush whose owner had taught it to speak, was startled by the door being broken down but soon resumed singing, "Mama, mama, help!"OVERDUE FOR SENSITIVITY TRAININGFort Lauderdale, Fla., police detective Don McCawley was fired after performing a skit at a "Good Ol' Boy Roundup" in which he pulled a painted black doll from a hollowed-out watermelon and began beating it. McCawley had been singled out in a Justice Department report for his performance at the annual gathering of law-enforcement officials, which it said included rampant drunkenness, performances by strippers and other misconduct.French sports minister Guy Drut ordered his country's Olympic synchronized swimming team to drop any references to the Holocaust in a four-minute routine planned for the Summer Games in Atlanta. Set to music from Steven Spielberg's movie "Schindler's List," the routine re-enacted the arrival of Jewish women in the German death camps, the selection by Nazi doctors and their final march to the gas chambers, performed by swimmers wearing black bathing suits who were to goose-step to the side of the pool before plunging in.AVOID THE VOIDIndiana University researcher Jeff Alberts reported his studies show that astronauts should avoid having sex in outer space or at least practice birth control. Alberts put 10 pregnant rats aboard space shuttle flights, then studied what happened to the mothers and babies after they returned to Earth. He discovered the mothers were lethargic, flexed their muscles less and let their tails droop. When they gave birth, they required twice as many muscle contractions as normal to deliver their babies. The babies' eyes and inner ears were abnormal and misshapen, and they were unable to tell up from down when swimming. "I wouldn't want to be pregnant in space," Alberts told the American Psychological Society's annual convention in July. "At least not until we learn a lot more about the process."SPECIAL ORDERS DO UPSET USA man in shorts, thong sandals and a multicolored beret leaped on the front counter of a Burger King at Grants Pass, Ore., pulled out a knife and announced to a clerk, "I'll have a Whopper with cheese, and don't say anything." According to police, the clerk retreated to the back of the kitchen, so the man jumped over the counter and tried to open the cash register. When it wouldn't open, he ran out the front door, losing both his sandals. A short time later, police arrested barefoot suspect James Craig Smith, 41.DON'T LEAVE HOME WITH ITPhilippine real-estate magnate Tan Yu, who is worth $7.7 billion and is the world's 10th-richest man, tried to buy $1,836 worth of chocolates and liquor at a duty-free shop at Manila's airport in July, but a verification machine rejected both his American Express and Visa cards. Recognizing him "as a regular customer who buys chocolates and liquor at least twice a month at the airport," clerk Edwin Clemente said the staff repeatedly resubmitted the transaction. After Tan Yu continued to be rejected, the staff phoned American Express directly, explained who the customer was and got approval.

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