NewsQuirks 428

Bad SeedAfter Frankie and Carolyn Ash stopped at a convenience store near their home in Northport, Ala., Frankie was leaving the store when the couple's 21-year-old son David rushed in past him. The father thought the son was hurrying to go to the bathroom, but then the mother looked in and saw him brandishing a knife behind the counter. Next, he ran out, got into his truck and drove off. The couple waited for police to arrive and told them what had happened. Sgt. Kevin Leib said it was uncertain whether the man realized his parents were at the store, explaining, "He was apparently so concentrated on what he was doing that he didn't notice them."Meanwhile, David Ash's getaway car broke down. He called his parents for help, but they told him what they had seen and urged him to surrender to police.Unfriendly SkiesTurkish Airlines fired pilot Altan Tezcan and co-pilot Erdogan Gecim, who were flying 240 passengers from Bangkok to Istanbul, after the two got into a fist fight in the cockpit while arguing over their aircraft's altitude.Not So Lucky After AllRicardo Aldape Guerra, 35, who spent 15 years on death row in a Texas jail, several times coming within hours of being executed, was released in April after a judge ruled that six prosecution witnesses lacked credibility. He returned to Mexico as a folk hero and was signed to appear in a popular Mexican soap opera. Four months later, he was killed in a high-speed auto accident near the northern Mexican city of Matehuala. His mother, Francisca Guerra Aldape, told Notimex news agency that among her son's last words were: "They have paid me for the soap opera, tomorrow I will be there."Wedding-Day BluesPakistan announced a ban on lavish wedding feasts. Explaining such celebrations cause financial hardships for the poor and middle classes, lawmakers voted in May to restrict families to a wedding meal at home for relatives and house guests. Larger gatherings can take place at hotels and clubs outside the home, but no food may be served -- only hot and cold non-alcoholic drinks. Officials in Venice this spring stopped renting out city-owned halls to out-of-town couples hoping for a romantic wedding. The cash-strapped city made the halls available two years ago to couples from elsewhere in Italy and abroad, but so many people booked them that Venetians were having to wait months to marry in their own city.Good TimingWhen Edmond James Ramos was charged with first-degree burglary in Los Angeles for breaking into an occupied dwelling, his lawyer appealed. He argued that because the only occupant had died of natural causes mere minutes before Ramos broke in, legally the residence was unoccupied. An appeals court agreed and threw out the charge.Capitalizing on Outer SpaceWhen former Mir commander Vasily Tsibliyev wasn't patching up the Russian space station, he found time to star in a commercial for Israeli milk. The ad, filmed by flight engineer Alexander Lazutkin, shows Tsibliyev swallowing a floating globule of long-life milk that he squeezed out of a Hebrew-lettered carton. The milk, which needs no refrigeration, underwent microbiological examination at the Mir control station laboratory to ensure it was bacteria-free before being rocketed into space, according to Gitam/BBDO, the advertising agency that produced the commercial for Tnuva, Israel's biggest food manufacturer. The company budgeted $450,000 for the 90-second commercial and paid a fee to the Russian space agency. At the Mir control station, the commercial's Israeli directors radioed instructions to Lazutkin on a two-way satellite link. Some 150 Russian extras were brought to mission command for the ad.It marked Russia's second foray into commercials in space. Last May, two Mir cosmonauts on a space walk were filmed deploying a large replica of Pepsi's new blue can.Dennis Hope, a Rio Vista, Calif., resident, who proclaimed himself Master of the Solar System, told the Los Angeles Times that he clears up to $4,000 profit each month selling what he describes as "the least expensive real estate in the universe": 1,777 acres of lunar land for $15.99, plus tax and shipping. "Whenever someone hears of this, their first response is, 'You can't do that,'" Hope said. "Well, we've sold over 10,000 parcels of property, so evidently I can do that." Hope also began selling plots on Mars in June in anticipation of NASA's Pathfinder space probe landing on the planet in July, advising buyers to send trespassing bills to the space agency.Indeed, after the Pathfinder landed, two Yemeni men filed a lawsuit in their country, charging the U.S. space agency with trespassing on Mars. Insisting the planet was bequeathed to them by ancestors who lived on the planet 3,000 years ago, Mustafa Khalil and Abdullah al-Amri presented documents they said proved their ownership to the country's prosecutor general, but withdrew their claim after he threatened them with arrest. "The two men are abnormal," the prosecutor general told the weekly newspaper al-Thawra. "They were only seeking fame and publicity."Can't Help MyselfFollowing his arrest for graffiti vandalism in Fremont, Calif., Jason Christopher Zepeda, 19, was put in a holding cell. Sheriff's deputies monitoring the cell with a security camera added to the charges against Zepeda after they observed him writing his name all over the cell walls.When a district court in Kobe, Japan, indicted Hiromichi Katsuki, 50, after he was caught taking a bento -- Japan's boxed lunches of rice, vegetables and meat or fish -- from an unlocked parked car, Katsuki admitted stealing two boxed meals a day for a total of 80 meals -- all homemade, a newspaper reported, "because I'm fussy about flavor."


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