NewsQuirks 419

FIRE LANES New York City workers installed a new fire hydrant at the intersection of Tremont Avenue and Boston Road in the Bronx. Acknowledging complaints that the hydrant was in the street, five feet from the curb, requiring traffic to go around it, a city official said the hydrant had been installed properly. He explained the curb lane was scheduled to be replaced by a sidewalk, but bad weather delayed its construction, although the hydrant was installed on time. After a Boston newspaper published a photo of Teresa Heinz's Jeep Cherokee parked illegally at a fire hydrant in front of her Beacon Hill home, the ketchup heiress and her husband, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), paid to have the hydrant moved around the corner. "This both improves the pictorial environment," said Kerry's spokesperson, Michael Meehan, "and frees up a parking space."CHICKEN LITTLE WAS RIGHT A village headman in Thailand was killed instantly when a rocket fired into the air in a religious ceremony fell and struck him on the head. The incident occurred during an annual "rocket festival," where villagers launch bamboo and iron tube rockets as a way of asking the gods for rain.FIRE POWER Hulusi Basceri, manager of the Sarsilmaz gun factory in Ankara, Turkey, was demonstrating to a customer how to use the "13+1 Sarsilmaz" gun when it fired, hitting worker Omer Yilmaz, 40, who died immediately, according to the state-run Anatolian news agency. In Spain, two separate police units investigating a car bombing opened fire on each other, wounding three officers. Police attributed the shoot-out to the zealousness of the two forces hunting Basque separatists.BUSY LIVES Charles Manson, 62, who is serving a life sentence in California for the murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others in 1969, told a parole board in March that he's too busy to be free. "I'm involved in too many things -- I have a Web site I'm working on," he told the three-member panel, which obligingly denied his parole. Rodney King, who received $3.8 million after Los Angeles police beat him in 1991, ended his self-imposed isolation to announce the formation of his own music label, called Straight Alta-Pazz. Officials in eastern Romania began legal proceedings to oust Stefan Pavel, elected last year to a second term as mayor of Pirgaresti, after discovering that he was working illegally abroad. The European reported that Pavel took a one-month holiday to Italy shortly after his re-election and never returned, claiming he could earn much more than his mayor's salary.VIRTUALITY BITES Among the hottest computer games for teenage boys in Japan are love simulations, whose object is to try to get teenage girls to fall in love with them. The games have even spawned a magazine, "Virtual Idol," which provides fictional biographies of the virtual girls. One letter writer credited "Virtual Idol" with being "just the right kind of magazine for a person like me who's not interested in real girls."SORE LOSERSAfter a referee in Tripoli, Libya, made a questionable call against a soccer team sponsored by the eldest son of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi, the players responded by attacking the official and the other team. When spectators jeered, Qaddafi and his bodyguards opened fire on them, killing as many as 50 people, including the referee. After the incident, Qaddafi declared a period of mourning, during which the state television network broadcast only in black-and-white.PAY ATTENTION Brazilian drug traffickers, who employ some 6,000 children under age 17, use videotapes and self-help manuals to teach the young recruits how to fire pistols and machine guns, according to the newspaper O Globo. "The drug traffickers are using videos because a good part of their soldiers are under-age and know nothing about arms," police official Carlou Miguel de Almeida said. Other Brazilians were offended by videotapes distributed by Disney World intending to teach them how to behave at the Florida amusement park. The 2,000 tapes were sent to travel agents with instructions to show them to people who booked visits. "On the 10-minute tape, which is so irritating as to be an incitement to vandalize, kids are told how to stand in line, bathe without flooding bathrooms and put litter in proper trash cans," Sao Paulo's Veja magazine noted. "The high point is when the narrator suggests that children refrain from screaming when having fun."CAPTIVE AUDIENCES Jamie Brooks, 18, filed a $5-million lawsuit against Kiowa County, Okla., charging that it is the county's fault she became pregnant while in the jail awaiting her trial for murder. She said the father, inmate-trusty Eddie Alonzo, impregnated her through the bars of her cell.OVERCOMING ADVERSITY While New Mexico State men's basketball team was warming up at Idaho's Kibbie Dome, a discus from a track meet at an adjoining area sailed over a grandstand surrounding the court. It landed near guard Denmark Reid, bounced once, then struck him in the chest. Reid suffered a bruised sternum but played in the game, scoring 19 points -- his highest total of the season.WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE Vancouver's Global Water Corp. signed a 15-year contract with the city of Sitka, Alaska, allowing it to harvest glacial runoff amounting to 4.8 billion gallons of water a year to sell to the Chinese. The water will be sold in 500-milliliter bottles costing 70 cents each, far cheaper than the $5.25 for bottled water from Europe. Russia is considering exporting icebergs to country where fresh water is scarce, according to parliamentary vice-chairman Artur Chelingarov. To kick off the enterprise, two Russian tugs will tow a 2-million ton iceberg to Portugal for next year's World Ocean festival. Gebroulaz glacier in the French Alps is being sold by the Etievent family, which has owned the 988-acre ice chunk for 143 years. Located near two popular ski resorts, France's only privately owned glacier is expected to bring between $870,000 and $1 million. 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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