Square DealsA former baseball pitcher in Houston, Texas, filed a lawsuit against his high school and some of his coaches for $40,000, claiming that they deprived of his constitutional rights to fame and fortune by benching him during a baseball playoff game. He and his parents are seeking the cash equivalent of a college scholarship he might have won, plus losses from a potential professional career. When a retired Portland State University employee admitted embezzling more than $221,000 from the school, her lawyer asked for leniency, pointing out that his client had made restitution of sorts by losing it to video-poker machines, which provide revenue to the Oregon government.Robbing Peter to Pay PaulWhen police charged Donald Lewis Dingerson, 36, with robbing 10 banks in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., they expressed curiosity as to why most of the hold-ups were on Monday. After confessing to the robberies, Dingerson explained that he needed the money then because his court-ordered restitution payments were due on Tuesday.Sensible SolutionWhen smoke from forest fires in Malaysia increased air pollution to dangerous levels, a shortage of face masks resulted. Two government employees saved the day by recommending that people wear an improvised device made out of brassieres. News reports said the bras were much more comfortable and lasted much longer than regular face masks.Short SubjectIndia's Gul Mohammed, who entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 1992 as the world's shortest man, died in New Delhi without achieving his dream of marrying a tall woman. Indian newspapers reported that Mohammed, 36 years old and 22.1 inches tall, died of lung complications. He was a chronic smoker.Slow GoingCharles Dupon, 52, was arrested for stealing 105 pairs of panties from one of his neighbors over the course of 16 years. Oxford County Police Supervisor Arthur Dean said that finally, "the woman realized, 'I buy a lot of underwear -- where is it all going?'"A woman who tried to rob a Lockport Savings Bank branch in Buffalo, N.Y., lost patience with a teller who took too long to hand over the cash and snatched back her hold-up note. Police said she walked to a nearby Rochester Savings Bank, where she made off with an undisclosed amount of money.More Than Mere OrnamentationScientists said the key to saving the wading birds of Florida's giant Everglades ecosystem might turn out to be the plastic pink flamingos that dot suburban lawns throughout the state. Teams from the South Florida Water Management District have begun installing the familiar wire-legged creatures, newly painted white, in ponds in a northern section of the threatened swamp, hoping the lawn ornaments will lure their feathered counterparts to the ponds.The Other SideUniversity researcher Philip Adongo from Ghana told a world population conference in Beijing that small families work better in modern society. He noted that the research leading to that conclusion was based partly on interviews with the dead. Using soothsayers, Philip Adongo asked village ancestors for advice on the ideal size of a family in a tribal area of the west African nation. "If I only heard from the living, I wouldn't get a very good balance," he explained. "This study has been the first to be conducted of respondents who are deceased."Driver's EdDavid Cline, 36, a high-school driver's education teacher in Durham, N.C., resigned after police said he ordered a student driver to chase down another car, then punched the other driver in the nose. The incident began when Cline decided a car driven by Jon David Macklin, 23, cut them off and told his student to go after Macklin's car. When both cars stopped at a red light, Cline got out and approached Macklin, who said the two exchanged words, then Cline punched him. Macklin drove off, but Cline again had the student chase him. Finally, police pulled over Cline's car for speeding, and Macklin drove back to report what had happened.Dubious DistinctionJapan's first divorce magazine chose the name "Liz," after Elizabeth Taylor. Editor in chief Chizuru Taguchi explained, "When Japanese think of the people associated with divorce, the Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor often comes to mind."In Tyson's CornerWest Virginia Judge Joseph Troisi, 47, charged with biting the nose of a defendant who cursed him, insisted he did not do it on purpose. Bill Witten, 29, was upset with Troisi for turning down his request to have his $40,000 bond reduced and shouted an obscenity at the judge. Troisi stepped down from the bench, removed his robe and confronted Witten in front of a half-dozen witnesses, then bit off the tip of Witten's nose. After an investigative report prepared for the state Supreme Court said the altercation marked the 19th time in the past two years that Troisi has lost his temper on the bench, the judge pleaded no contest and resigned.In Islamabad, Pakistan, a man was arrested for chopping off his wife's nose during a domestic argument. "My hands and legs were tied, and then my husband took a kitchen knife and chopped off my nose," said Nursat Parveen, 30, explaining that the husband became angry when she criticized one of the couple's eight children for not doing her chores. "Ignoring my cries for mercy, he brought a kitchen knife and a pair of scissors and chopped off my nose and hair."An Egyptian sculptor Ahmed Karaaly, 27, admitted using human body parts in a statue submitted for an art competition in Cairo. He said he bought human arm and leg bones from a gravedigger for $9, then combined them with bones from a cat and a sheep in a transparent polystyrene statue. "I wanted to make a statue representing the fossils of ancient civilization," he explained, "by combining the human and the animal body in a creative way."Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.