NewsQuirks 390

MAN BITES DOGThe Aug. 9 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published the following correction: "A photo caption in Wednesday's editions about a newborn gorilla at the Pittsburgh Zoo incorrectly identified a male gorilla in the picture. It was the brother of the infant, not the father."Television networks insisted that this fall's presidential debates take place on nights that didn't interfere with profitable programming. According to U.S. News & World Report, NBC didn't want the debates on Thursday because that's when it wins big audiences with Seinfeld, Friends and ER. CBS nixed Sundays because it didn't want to preempt 60 Minutes. ABC rejected Wednesday, when it shows The Drew Carey Show and Townies, but Wednesday was picked anyway because it was the only night without a baseball playoff game scheduled.CURSES, FOILED AGAINA man accused of stealing $100 worth of film from a Baltimore drug store was fleeing when he ran into a street full of people in police uniforms. After surrendering to them, he learned they were actors dressed as police officers filming the NBC TV show Homicide on location. The actors handed the suspect over to the store's security guard. "The judge should dismiss the charges," actor Richard Belzer said, "because he was punished with humiliation."Steven Jeffrey Raines, 37, walked into Testa's Restaurant in West Palm Beach, Fla., sat down at the bar and ordered a vodka with a plate of lemon slices and sugar. According to bartender Chip Welfeld, Raines asked if Welfeld minded him counted his money at the bar. "I said, 'No, go ahead,' and he dumped $10,000,'' said Welfeld, who got suspicious and called the police. Police said Raines, wanted in West Virginia on burglary charges, robbed two banks in Palm Beach before going to the bar.NO COMPASSIONWhen the Burlington, Iowa, fire department lost the master key to the city's 18 schools, City Manager Jane Woods charged the department $46,000 to pay for changing all the locks. "They lost the key," she explained. "They pay for the key."Eric Agueh was fired from his job at a sports shop in Villeneuve d'Ascq, France, for being absent from work last summer. The store admitted the firing was a mistake after learning that Agueh had been at the Olympic Games in Atlanta representing Benin in the 100-meter sprint.THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGEBilly Tsangares began paying homeless people in San Francisco $5 an hour to hold signs printed on scraps of cardboard. Instead of saying "Will work for food," his signs say "Your Company Logo Here." Tsangares explained his Beat the Street Enterprises charges clients $20 an hour to advertise on the signs. He noted using pieces of cardboard boxes "was an aesthetic choice. I didn't want to change the effect too much."BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSEA graduate student at San Diego State University who appeared before a faculty committee to defend his master's thesis pulled out a gun he had stashed earlier in the room and opened fire. He killed his faculty adviser and two other professors, firing more than 20 rounds and even stopping once to reload, according to police, who arrested Frederick Martin Davidson, 36. "He was upset that his thesis had been turned down previously," police Lt. Jim Collins explained, "and thought the professors were out to get him."ALL TVS ARE TURNED TO 'THE X FILES'Since five lumber mills closed in Willow Creek, Calif., the 1,000-person community has tried to cash in on the Bigfoot legend, proclaiming itself the hometown of the elusive human-ape hybrid on the basis of reported sightings in the forests and waterways north of town. The town museum sells casts of Bigfoot's footprints for $10, and various businesses sell assorted Bigfoot merchandise. The weekly newspaper and the major grocery store use Bigfoot icons as company logos. "It's a thing we can point to about this area," said Brian Bottermiller, owner of the Willow Creek Pharmacy. "We're the epicenter."DEMOCRACY AT WORKIn New York City, Justice Ruth Moskowitz died three days before the November election but still won. Among those who voted for her was Glenn Rubenstein of Brooklyn, who explained, "Sometimes it's better to vote for someone who's dead than for someone you don't like."BOOK WORMSThe euphoria that overcomes historians who unearth an ancient manuscript may be chemically induced, according to the British medical journal Lancet. When the fungi that grow on moldy books are disturbed, they release spores that can induce hallucinations. "It is not inconceivable that intoxication might follow inhalation of spores from suitable mold fungi in libraries," London dermatologist R. J. Hay noted. "To the gourmet fungus, as to the bibliophile, a well-stocked library is a feast of incomparable variety and flavor." Hays added that what many great literary figures took for inspiration "may have been nothing more than a quick sniff of the bouquet of moldy books."An entire library was stolen in Salem, Ore., when someone took the pickup truck carrying it. The pickup containing all of the Oregon International Council's books, teaching materials, color slides and videotapes was being used for storage while Willamette University prepared new shelf space for the collection, according to Bob Willner, executive director of the library and owner of the truck, who observed, "It isn't often you get a whole library stolen."FREE ENTERPRISEH.L.I. Lordship Industries of Hauppauge, N.Y., which holds the government contract to produce the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor, admitted selling 300 unauthorized copies of the medal for $75 apiece. The medal is awarded to combatants who risk their life in an act of bravery beyond the call of duty. Only 103 authorized recipients are alive today.The FBI reported that 70 percent of all autographed sports souvenirs is fraudulent. "That is a conservative estimate," Chicago FBI agent Bob Long told the Washington Post, indicating the $750 million a year sports memorabilia market is teeming with con artists. "If you don't personally see it getting signed, beware, because more than likely it's phony."

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