NewsQuirks 442

OverreactionAfter Dennis Blacke, 51, was involved in an accident in Philadelphia, he emerged from his car holding a gun and screamed at police officers, "I owe $15,000 on this car." He then put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger, killing himself.Gun PlayFirefighter David Williams was fighting a blaze at Angela's Nursery in Perry, Fla., when heat and flames in the burning building caused a rifle to discharge, sending a stray .22-caliber bullet through his neck. Williams was taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where he died. Julian Malichi, 50, was trying to scare off some bears outside his home near Winchester, Va., with a .22-caliber pistol. He pushed open a window to fire and shot himself in the hand.Norma Barrios, 33, was sitting near a new memorial to homicide victims in Albuquerque, N.M., when she was shot to death. Homicide Detective Rick Foley said the gunman apparently was firing a pistol at a stray dog but a large bush prevented him from seeing Barrios.Wrong RitesA group of 10 men burst into a funeral home in Miami and tossed out grieving relatives, then stuck a bottle of rum into a dead man's hand and performed a Santeria religious ritual, police said. Seven people were taken into custody for questioning after the ritual evolved into a gunfight in which a man was shot in the chest.Closing LoopholesThe Swiss government announced that executives should no longer be allowed to take tax breaks for bribes they pay out to secure business deals. Vowing to step up the fight against corruption, it also announced plans to make bribing foreign officials a crime. Bribing Swiss officials is against the law, even though the practice is entitled to a tax break. Handy with a ScrewdriverWhen Pete Maynard arrived at the Aurora, Colo., site of a 3,000-square-foot building he was preparing to move to his ranch to rebuild as a barn, the structure was missing. After reporting the theft, Maynard said he received a phone call from the thief, who explained he had spent two months taking the building apart by removing 10,000 screws and told Maynard where he could find the disassembled pieces. "The guy was actually crying on the phone," Maynard said. "I guess he felt remorseful or scared that the theft had gotten so much attention."Winners and LosersA team of Latvian doctors claimed a new world record after reattaching four severed hands in just five days. According to the Baltic News Service, three of the patients had their hands cut off by saws while chopping down trees. The fourth, a woman, had her hand severed by a dough machine. The agency noted doctors normally reattach only two or three hands a year. In Taiwan, two men had their arms torn from their bodies as a result of a tug-of-war contest in Taipei involving more than 1,600 participants. Both men wrapped the rope around their left arm in an attempt to have a better grip. Their limbs were torn when the rope snapped. Doctors performed a seven-hour reattachment operation and are hopeful that the men will recover up to 70 percent of the use of their arms.Don't Get Mad, Get EvenFour months after Teng Bunma, Cambodia's richest businessman, shot out the tires of a jetliner because the airline lost his luggage, civil aviation officials confirmed that Teng, whose estimated worth is $400 million, had applied for a license to start his own airline. Land of the Setting SunSome Japanese manufacturers have developed clothes that they claim protect office workers from electromagnetic radiation emitted by computer screens, televisions, microwaves and mobile phones. Ryuichiro Abe of the Japan Consumers Union pointed out that the protective wear does not block low- frequency wave emissions from computer equipment, which are the major problem in the computer age.Everything but the Kitchen SinkKen Slavin and John Bihl were both driving north on Interstate 95 in Florida when they began shouting and gesticulating at each other, Pompano Beach police said. "The two drivers even threw coins and other objects at each other while traveling at approximately 50 mph on the highway," police spokesperson Sandra King said. "At one point Slavin threw a two-foot chair leg which hit the side of Bihl's vehicle." King said Bihl then pulled out a gun and shot at Slavin's car, hitting the side.Leap of FaithAn Italian judge dismissed fraud charges against a registered "blind" man with a driver's license who claimed he had been miraculously cured at the Roman Catholic shrine at Lourdes, France. The 29-year-old man was freed by a court in Perugia after he said he had regained his sight during a visit to Lourdes. Police discovered the case during a crackdown on welfare fraud when they found the man was registered as blind while holding a permit to drive. Chicken FeedCanadians Pamela Meldrum, 27, and Eric Wolf, 24, spent a week this fall huddled in a cramped chicken coop, sleeping on a hard floor and eating nothing but vegetable mash. The pair were part of an art exhibit intended to provoke discussion about raising animals for human consumption. For their troubles, Meldrum and Wolf each received $2,500 (US$1,775). Ups and DownsWhen the stock market crashes, so does the male sexual organ, according to Dr. Alexander Oshanyesky, an Israeli specialist on blood vessel problems. He said a drug used by his clinic to treat a test group of 193 men for impotence failed to do the job when Iraqi Scud missiles slammed into Israel in the 1991 Gulf War and when the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange crashed in 1993. "The stress causes the adrenaline level to shoot up, moving more blood to the brain and the heart and less to the penis -- total impotence," Oshanyesky said, adding it could take time for markets and men to rise again. "When a man is sexually impotent he loses confidence and has trouble making financial decisions." 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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