NewsQuirks 416

EVERY VOTE COUNTSConservative Member of Parliament Rupert Allison of Torbay dined at an Italian restaurant on the eve of Britain's recent general election but didn't leave a tip. As a result, according to the BBC, the restaurant's 14 staff members decided to switch their votes to the Liberal Democrat candidate. The next day, Rupert lost the election -- by 12 votes.YOU'VE COME THE WRONG WAY, BABYThe Russian government, seeking to improve the status of women across the country, appointed a man to head a special commission on the issue. "The commission is made up almost entirely of women," said a spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuyev, the man named to the post, "so you need a man at the top to balance them out."The Philippines government told women civil servants that if they want to avoid unwelcome sexual advances they shouldn't wear seductive clothes to work. Alma de Leon, the head of the civil service and one of the country's most senior women officials, reminded women workers of a 1991 official memorandum banning "tight-fitting, seductive, micro-mini and gauzy or transparent dresses" in government offices. Walking shorts, leggings, tights and jeans are also prohibited.IT'S A LIVINGWinnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of South Africa's President Nelson Mandela, has begun selling dirt scraped up from the lot of the house in Soweto that she shared with Nelson in the 1950s. Each bottle of dirt costs $11 and comes with a "certificate of authenticity."IS THERE A NIGHT DEPOSIT SLOT?When Singapore's National Sperm Bank found its supply of merchandise running low, it launched a publicity campaign to attract donors. The principal targets were university students and soldiers, bank director Noel Long told the Straits Times newspaper. "We want a well-informed and receptive group of people who are also accessible."GENDER BENDERSA Spanish judge approved a request by two convicted transvestites to wear women's clothes while serving sentences at a men's prison in Villabona. Judge Marisa Llaneza said the two were entitled to wear feminine clothing, just so long as it was "decent." One of the transvestites, convicted robber Maria Jesus Lastra, 27, had charged wardens with discrimination for confiscating all his dresses and constantly harassing him and a transvestite cellmate for having breasts.WATCH OUT, DENNIS RODMANTwo Turkish gunmen shot dead well-known barman Oguz Atak as he walked his dog in the exclusive Istanbul district of Bebek. The gunmen told police who arrested them that they had seen Atak on TV and felt he was insulting Islam by working in a bar while wearing a tattoo of the word "Allah" in Arabic on his shoulder. Consuming alcohol is forbidden under Islam but drink is available in secular Turkey.WINNERS AND LOSERSPatrick Gayle, 33, was shot in the chest by a stray bullet from a gang dispute in Harrisburg, Pa., but his life was saved by a stack of losing lottery tickets he was carrying in his shirt pocket. The bullet went through a credit card and a cigarette lighter before reaching the $40 worth of losing tickets. "You want to talk about being lucky?" said Gayle. "Those tickets saved me."In Sao Paulo, Brazil, two armed robbers forced their way into Raimundo Dias Carneiro's lottery ticket booth and demanded money. One of the men shot Carneiro at close range, but the vendor was saved by four coins he was carrying in his shirt pocket. "Those coins are blessed," said Carneiro.After buying a Daily Million lottery ticket at the Nutfield Country Store in Derry, N.H., Jonathan Michaels, 34, returned the next day to find out if he had won. The clerk printed out a computer-generated "game-information report" that showed Michaels' number was a winner. He called his lawyer, who then called to find out how to collect the money, only to be told that the store printout was wrong and his client had not won. "I never trusted computers before this," Michaels said, "and I never will."After finding three winning scratch-off lottery tickets totaling 140 million lire ($82,000) among the 20 he bought last year in Curno, Italy, Sergio Salvi could not wait to begin living his life of luxury. Before he even cashed in his tickets, Salvi borrowed 60 million lire to buy a new car and restore his family home. When he did go to collect his prizes, the government refused to pay. The finance ministry explained that due to a technical glitch, a computer had produced a glut of winning tickets for the Curno area; as a result, the tickets had been recalled and weren't even supposed to reach outlets. Salvi greeted the government's refusal to pay by going on a hunger strike and threatening to shoot himself in front of parliament.German police in Hanover arrested a 23-year-old man, identified only as Timor, who they said conned an 85-year-old woman into giving him 15,000 deutschmarks ($8,835) to pay off gambling debts her dead husband had contracted in Heaven.KING LEERYoichiro Iino, the mayor of Kitakata, Japan, offered to reprimand himself and cut his salary in half for six months to atone for peeping into a women's bath. The incident occurred during an official inspection of the newly opened city-run spa, when the 72-year-old mayor walked into the women's dressing room and peeped through a glass door where about 20 naked women were bathing. The mayor insisted he was just checking attendance at the new facility, explaining, "I was worried about how turnout would be after the free-entry promotion ended."FIRST-WORLD LIFESTYLE"Diseases of affluence" such as heart disease and strokes are killing more people in the developing world than in richer countries, according to a report in the medical journal "Lancet." Such diseases also kill more people in poorer countries than infections like malaria. 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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