NewsQuirks 408

CAPTIVE AUDIENCESAccordion music can help rehabilitate prisoners, according to Ralph Bailey, 78, a Baptist preacher who has played at New Jersey's Middlesex County jail for 40 years. "It calms them down," he said, explaining it "seems to reach their souls more quickly than words ever could. The music gives them a measure of serenity they couldn't get any other way." Sgt. Joe de Matteo agreed, adding, "After the sessions they become real pussycats."OVERKILLAfter a fire killed at least 200 worshippers at a Hindu gathering in Baripada, India, authorities ordered that the victims' bodies, most of them charred beyond recognition, be cremated.SILVER LININGNitric oxide, an ingredient of smog, may help newborns with lung problems breathe more easily. Two studies reported in the "New England Journal of Medicine" show that babies with breathing difficulties did not need drastic treatment if they inhaled small amounts of the gas. Nitric Oxide is also used by the body to control blood pressure and kill tumor cells.GUN PLAYTimothy Foreman, 21, a psychology student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, returned to his apartment after a night of drinking and discovered that a sandwich was missing from his refrigerator. He jokingly told roommates that he would shoot the person who stole the sandwich. To make his point, he got a handgun and fired at a paper bullseye he had taped to the wall of his room. The bullet went through the wall and wounded a roommate in the next room. Indiana County Coroner Tom Streams said that when Foreman realized what had happened, he shot himself in the head and was pronounced dead at Indiana Hospital.SOUTH OF THE BORDERTwo Chilean police officers who stopped 49 motorists for using cellular telephones while driving in Santiago's wealthy eastern suburbs discovered that 15 of them were pretending to talk on fake phones made of plastic and wood. "I was only doing it to look better," the newspaper La Tercera Chileans quoted one driver as telling the police. Another pointed out that in Chile people have to "show off" to get ahead, and using a fake phone was cheaper than the real thing.Alexandre Sochandamadou filed a lawsuit with Colombia's Constitutional Court seeking to revoke the national anthem on the grounds that it promotes Catholicism, violence and sadomasochism, Bogota's El Espectador newspaper reported. Among other objectionable stanzas, according to Sochandamadou, is a line referring to "good sprouting from furrows of suffering," which he says teaches that good comes from pain.OPPORTUNITY KNOCKSDetermined to reduce the number of disease-carrying insects, Manila officials offered a bounty of 1.50 pesos (6 cents) for every 10 cockroaches turned in. The Asahi Evening News reported the offer has given rise to a booming industry in the Philippines: roach farming.ERR JORDANPolice investigating a series of office burglaries in downtown Syracuse, N.Y., charged Champ Hallett, dubbed the "Michael Jordan" of the Syracuse Flyers wheelchair basketball team by team president James H. Babel. Police spotted wheel tracks in the carpeting, then noticed security camera tapes showing a man entering the buildings in a wheelchair. After losing his right leg five years ago when he fell six stories trying to rob a crack house, Hallett, 32, found religion and became a success rehabilitation story for the Syracuse Rescue Mission. The U.S. Paralympics selected Hallett to be an alternate to the 1996 Wheelchair Basketball team. "This one's definitely different," Onondaga County Assistant District Attorney Jim Cecile. "It shows, I guess, a lot of ambition on his part."COMES WITH THE JOBIn addition to their journalistic duties, reporters at Orion Radio in the southern Romanian town of Cimpulung have to take turns climbing on the radio station's roof and shooting at the scores of crows that have taken to roosting on the antenna. Their weight causes the antenna to shake, interrupting broadcasts.FILIAL DEVOTIONPeter Bashucky, 46, was so traumatized when his father, Nicholas Bashucky, 78, died of a massive stroke in Los Angeles that all he could think of was getting the body home to Toronto. He put the body on a bed behind the driver's seat in his recreational vehicle and drove through snow and battering wind, making frequent stops for ice to keep the body cold and sleeping next to it. "It was very hard to drive," Bashucky told Reuters. "I had a lot on my mind."He reached the border at Niagara Falls four days later and was waved through. "I was only asked if I had anything to declare, any alcohol or tobacco," Bashucky said. "I said I didn't smoke and I only had one bottle." After arriving in Toronto, he slept for eight hours before contacting his brother and calling a nearby funeral home.BLABBERMOUTHThe 26-year-old driver of a 1989 Ford Probe that ran off the road and into a tree in rural Anne Arundel County, Md., told a motorist who stopped to help that he was intoxicated and needed to get out of the area before police arrived. The driver of the second car identified himself as Detective Thomas Middleton, an undercover police officer, who said that the drunk driver then admitted also having 14 grams of marijuana.ODD ENDINGSLarry Blanchfield, 31, an inmate serving a life term at the Delaware Correctional Center, was crushed to death when he tried to escape in a garbage truck. Authorities explained it is standard procedure for truck drivers to compact the trash they pick up before leaving the prison.CAN'T BE TOO CAREFULOfficials ordered the main terminal and control tower at Washington's National Airport evacuated after foul odors wafted through the terminal. Airlines had to cancel 26 flights and divert 24 others to nearby Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington International airports, upsetting the travel plans of thousands of passengers. After an investigation, authorities reported the probable cause of the noxious fumes was rotten fruit and leftover food in a trash bin.Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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