NewsQuirks 414

Guns and Toilets Don't MixJohnel Trinidad, 18, was inspecting a gun he planned to buy from a friend in Chandler, Ariz., when he had to go to the bathroom. He took the 9mm weapon with him. While sitting on the toilet, he accidentally fired the gun. The bullet went through his hand, knee, a bathroom wall and a chair before it stopped on the floor of a hallway, according to police Sgt. Matt Christensen, who noted, "Bathroom gun safety and gun safety in general pretty much dovetail."The incident occurred nine months after another Chandler resident, Harold Hughes, 52, took a loaded gun into the bathroom with him and set it on a counter. While he was sitting on the toilet, his pit bull, which he also had taken with him, knocked the gun off the counter and onto the floor, where it discharged, shooting Hughes in the leg.If Thy Shoe Offend TheeThe Council on American-Islamic Relations objected to Nike athletic shoes that use a logo resembling the word "Allah" in Arabic script. The emblem was meant to look like the word "Air" written in flames for a new line of shoes, according to spokesperson Vizhier Corpuz, who said Nike had caught the problem before the shoes went into production and changed the emblem. The Islamic council's executive director, Nihad Awad, insisted the offending emblem was seen at stores across the country and suggested Nike investigate to see if "there are people at the company who want to insult Muslims."Reebok conceded it made a mistake naming a new women's running shoe "Incubus," which is the name of a mythical demon that descended on sleeping women and had sex with them. Explaining the shoe had been on the market for about a year but that Reebok had just learned of the name's meaning from ABC-TV, spokesperson Dave Fogelson said the company had no plans to recall the shoes but was looking into solutions, noting, "It could be as simple as taking a Magic Marker and blacking out the name."Roberto Alomar Got Off EasyBefore Danis Rivera, 25, was convicted of child molesting in Santa Cruz, Calif., the district attorney offered him probation and a light sentence of six to 12 months in jail. Rivera rejected the plea bargain and wound up being sentenced to 16 years in prison because he wouldn't stop spitting in court. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that during his trial, Rivera was banished from the courtroom after attacking a detention officer and spitting repeatedly at court staff. After his conviction, he was brought in for sentencing strapped to a wheelchair and wearing a black beekeeper's bonnet. When Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge William Kelsay offered to have the bonnet removed if Rivera promised not to spit on anyone, he answered by spitting into his mask, then continued spitting noisily throughout the rest of the hearing. "He committed legal suicide," said defense attorney John Thornton.No Man Is an IslandIn need of a place to set up his sunken treasure business, Bill Warren of San Diego, Calif., last September filed a claim to take over Navassa Island, 25 miles off the west coast of Haiti, citing the 1856 Guano Islands Act, which allows any U.S. citizen who discovers an uninhapitable island covered with bird droppings to take "peaceful possession thereof." The 1-by-2-mile island is buried under at least 20 feet of petrified seabird droppings -- 500,000 tons, Warren estimates, noting he hopes to sell it as fertilizer to organic citrus farms in Florida for $400-$600 per ton.The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli architecture professor Michael Burt has proposed building 40 islands off the coast of Israel, stretching from Haifa in the north to Herziliya in the south. Burt, whose slogan is "a million Jews on the waves," said each island could accommodate 20,000 people in apartments with sea views. The paper, noting that the Japanese have built 86 islands in more difficult locations, said Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon is enthusiastic about Burt's and other island-building plans.Stop the Self-ViolenceThere were 21,577 homicides in the United States in 1995, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and 30,893 suicides.What's in a NameVoters in the Italian village of Luserna had to choose between two candidates for mayor, both named Nicolussi. The two previous mayors also were Nicolussis. That was also the name of 24 of the 28 candidates for village councilor. According to the European, two-thirds of Luserna's citizens are named Nicolussi.Not the Real ThingThe theft of a rhino horn from a display at Groningen University in the Netherlands brought the disclosure that it was actually a plastic replica. "We originally had the real horn with the skeleton, but a colleague who had been to Africa said that was crazy as it would probably be stolen," school spokesperson Martin Loonen explained, suggesting the theft was inspired by a recent article in a popular Dutch magazine mentioning the myth that powdered rhino horn is a powerful aphrodisiac.Wisconsin molecular biologists Maliyakal E. John and Greg Keller reported the development of a genetically engineered plant combining cotton and natural plastic. Noting that they added extra genes to make the cotton bolls produce a chemical resembling polypropylene, John declared their new fluffy fiber was another step toward finding a natural fabric that reduces wrinkling, cuts shrinkage and increases warmth.Predicting farmers could be growing plastic crops within 10 years, London's Sunday Times reported that after scientists announced they had genetically engineered oilseed rape plants to grow plastic polymers in their leaves and seeds, U.S. chemical manufacturer Monsanto announced it would try to increase the amount of plastic in the plants so it could use them to make plastic bags and bottles.Exasperated by the cork industry's failure to stop the problem of cork taint, European wine sellers have begun trying to convince consumers that screw tops and synthetic plastic stoppers are better. Previously, conventional wisdom said that wine had to be stoppered with cork, made from the bark of a certain oak tree, to let it breathe, but tainted cork spoils one in every 25 bottles of wine.

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