NewsQuirks 381

TRAFFIC DETAILWhen Tehran's city government installed parking meters without consulting the traffic police, the officers issued a statement announcing, "Tehrani citizens are requested to avoid putting coins in the newly established parking meters in the streets of Tehran." They promised no one would be fined for not paying into the meters.To slow rush-hour commuter traffic through the Dutch city of Culemborg, head of maintenance Henk-Jan Kievit, 33, instituted a pilot program to station six sheep at intersections in a three-block area in the Goilberdingen neighborhood. If the project succeeds, the city council said it would consider turning more sheep loose along major routes.THREE'S COMPANYNookal Ramangthong, 23, and Amphon Chaluaysrimuang, 34, Thai women who met as Buddhist nuns and made a vow to stay together always, married the same man, pledging to remain faithful to each other and their new husband. After the simple religious ceremony at Ratchaburi District Hall in August, the groom, Viroj Boonbamrungsilp, 29, described himself as a "once broken-hearted man" who believed he would never marry. "But now," he said, "I have two women who will be my wives at the same time."KICKING THE HABITMissing from Denmark's lineup at this year's European soccer tournament Euro '96 was Lars Elstrup. After scoring a crucial goal against France in Euro '92, Elstrup had recurring nightmares that he had missed the goal. According to a European newspaper, the stress made him give up soccer altogether and join a macrobiotic commune.REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONEAfter a 20-year-old woman in Parsippany, N.J., received a call from a stranger who threatened to hurt her unless she wired him $600, she went to the Western Union office and wired the money to a Western Union office in Atlantic City, relaying a vague description the man had given her so he could collect the money without having to show identification.DON'T ASK, DON'T TELLDuring the first seven months of U.S. peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia, at least 70 soldiers had been shipped back to Germany because they were pregnant. The newspaper Stars and Stripes reported favorite spots for fraternizing are bunkers, latrines and back seats of Humvees. A Defense Department public affairs officer, pointing out that the pregnancy rate of 4.6 percent in Bosnia is lower than the 5.1 percent during the Gulf War, insisted "there has been no degradation of the mission."MARK OF SUCCESSWall Street analysts have noted an increase in publicly traded companies using exclamation marks as part of their name, primarily to attract investors' attention. Among the converts reported by Bloomberg Business News are software maker Avant! Corp., toy maker Yes! Entertainment Corp., nature and outdoor products retailer What a World!, Internet navigator Yahoo! Inc. and consumer electronics retailer Good Guys! Inc. "It's something that people shout when they discover something neat," Yahoo! president and chief executive Timothy Koogle explained. "That's why we added the exclamation point."After the death of Jonathan Melvoin, 34, a backup musician for the band Smashing Pumpkins, from an apparent overdose of a particularly potent brand of heroin, New York City police noted a dramatic increase in sales of that particular drug. "It's kind of sick," police Capt. Denis McCarthy told the New York Times, explaining Melvoin's death was "sort of like a quality test" for drug buyers.LAUGH AWAY FATBombay is the home of what Asiaweek magazine called the "only health club in the world with no gym, no sauna and no social pretensions." Laughter Club International was founded last year by physician Madan Kataria, who said, "Scientific studies show that a good belly-rippling chortle once or twice a day can do wonders for the body's mental and physical processes." Curiously, joke telling is prohibited at the Laughter Club, both to avoid offending anyone and to keep from running out of gags. Instead, club members start each session with a contrived guffaw, which, according to Asiaweek, "quickly develops into giggling and, within a few minutes, natural, infectious laughter."NO SEX, WE'RE PIGSA one-year rise in British pork prices of 9 percent was initially attributed to high demand in Japan until Britain's Central Statistical Office concluded the real reason was lack of sex. High temperatures the previous summer meant hogs spent more time deep in cool mud instead of breeding. Beef prices were more stable, according to Guardian economics writer Larry Elliott, who pointed out that cows are usually artificially inseminated and "do not have the chance to say no."RIGHT OUT OF A TRACY-HEPBURN MOVIEHusband and wife Jim and Carolyn Hamson found themselves on the same jury deciding a civil discrimination case in San Luis Obispo, Calif. After 16 hours of deliberations, the jury told the judge they were hopelessly deadlocked, with the Hamsons on opposite sides. "He's got his strong opinions, and I've got mine," Carolyn Hamson said after the judge declared a mistrial. "It's a different day than it was 40 years ago." She added that at one point during deliberations, when Jim Hamson stood to emphasize a point, "He got uptight about something, and I said, 'Jim, sit down.'"CHEW ON THISEgyptian conservatives accused Israel of waging a sex war against their country, citing pornographic videotapes, explicit pop-music cassettes and even Arabic-language advertising for a phone-sex line that have made their way from Tel Aviv to Cairo, the New York Times reported. Even Rosa el Youssef, the Egyptian magazine that is banned in parts of the Arab world for publishing pictures of bikini-clad women, condemned the phone-sex ads as an Israeli ploy to corrupt Egyptian young people.The furor reached new heights in April, according to the Washington Post, when police in Mansoura launched an investigation into the sale of chewing gum reportedly laced with a powerful aphrodisiac. Some Egyptian newspapers identified the distributor of the gum as Israel. Fathi Mansour, who represents the city in parliament, claimed he knew of 15 cases in which women and girls had sexually assaulted men after chewing the gum, explaining he learned about the aphrodisiac after speaking with neighbors who gave it to their wives "as an experiment." Calling the gum "a plan to finish off Egypt's youth," Mansour added, "Probably men want lots of this."

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