NewsQuirks 461

Arms BearersKentucky Gov. Paul E. Patton signed an amendment to the state's weapons law that allows priests and ministers to carry guns in church. The original 1996 measure permitting Kentuckians to carry concealed weapons deliberately excluded the clergy, but ministers from rural churches lobbied legislators for the amendment, arguing that if they couldn't carry guns beneath their robes, armed robbers might come after their collection money.Russian Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin signed a government order entitling all judges to receive a free gun. The measure came in response to growing threats made against judges since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. The Moscow Times reported that as soon as the order was announced, 30 of the Moscow City Court's 127 judges immediately applied for their weapons.War Is Good for Plants and Other Living ThingsThe Defense Department is developing weapons and ammunition that are friendly to the environment, according to Mother Jones magazine, which noted the new products include bullets that won't leave lead in the soil, missiles with fewer exhaust fumes and metal coatings to replace paint and stripper used on aircraft.First Things FirstJesse Rosson, 78, shot and wounded five people at a Reno, Nev., casino, only to be caught as he tried to shuffle away using his walker. Barry Phillips, a spokesperson for Club Cal-Neva, reported that two of the wounded patrons refused to go to the hospital, instead remaining at the casino to gamble.Tongue-UntiedChinese farmer Xian Shihua, 32, was able to eat and speak normally for the first time in 20 years after doctors at the Southwest Military Hospital in Chongqing operated to remove two of his three tongues. Xian was born with one tongue but grew a second, smaller one when he was 5 years old, then a third, according to the Xinhua news agency, which noted that ever since then he had survived on a liquid diet and had great difficulty speaking.In Fayetteville, N.C., three armed men forced their way into the home of Evelyn Johnson, 70, and tied her up with duct tape while they ransacked her house. After they left, she managed to summon police by rolling to the living room, pulling her touch-tone telephone off a table and dialing 911 with her tongue.The Very Least They Could DoA boat company that takes divers to Australia's Great Barrier Reef brought back 26 divers but forgot Americans Thomas and Eileen Lonergan. Two days later, crew members found some of the couple's gear on the boat and realized they had been left behind. After authorities found no trace of the Lonergans, their instructor, who apparently miscounted before the boat headed back to the mainland, said, "I apologize. I sincerely apologize."Workers from August Roofing who were supposed to replace the roof at 948 Pons Court in Newbury Park, Calif., instead tore off the roof at 949 Pons Court, owned by Maryann Pouget, 57. Although the roofing company's owner, Chris Dyck, acknowledged his workers made a mistake, he refused to put on a new roof, even after Pouget's son-in-law offered to split the cost of materials if Dyck would provide the labor. Instead, the Associated Press reported, Dyck said he would give her a discount on a new roof, charging only $4,694. "I'm obligated to help her out because I made a mistake," he explained. "But I'm not obligated to lose a lot of money because of this."Religious ConvictionsThree men convicted by an Islamic court in Afghanistan of committing sodomy with young boys were executed by having a wall of mud pushed on top of them. The Taleban newspaper Anis reported that an army tank was used to topple the wall.A rabbinical court in Haifa, Israel, declared that married women must be home by midnight. The ruling was handed down in a divorce suit brought by a man who complained his wife hung out in singles bars and stayed out until morning. The newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported that when the woman defended her behavior by noting her husband was sleeping with other women, the court conceded such behavior was "insufferable" but insisted it is the wife who must be home by midnight.Bird on HandRichard Stone, 58, was tending his vegetable garden in Cheddar, England, when his van rolled forward and pinned him to the ground. His cries for help went unanswered until a red, blue and green macaw parrot named Sonny heard him from its cage in a nearby trailer park and imitated him. Two passers-by heard the parrot, investigated and freed Stone.Look Before You LeapThe Massachusetts Civil Justice Reform Alliance announced the winner of its "Wacky Warning Label Contest," which was held to highlight what the watchdog group said are the outrageous lengths to which businesses must go to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits. "Pepper spray may irritate your eyes," read the winning claim on a label of the self-defense spray. Other products whose labels won honorable mention: an air conditioner ("Do not drop out of window"), a cigarette lighter ("Do not ignite in face") and a drain clog remover ("Do not reuse container for storing beverages").Up in the AirTokyo police arrested Jiro Zennyoji, 51, after he reportedly switched seats aboard a Japanese Airlines flight from South Korea to be next to a 33-year-old woman, then bit her when she refused to give him her phone number.Amanda Buritica, 51, a school crossing guard from Port Chester, N.Y., was awarded more than $450,000 by a San Francisco jury after she accused customs agents of violating her civil rights. Buritica testified that when she returned to the United States from Hong Kong, U.S. Customs Agents picked her out of the arrivals line, searched her, then strip-searched her and X-rayed her for concealed or swallowed drugs. Finding none, the agents took her to the hospital and made her swallow a powerful laxative that caused her to have 28 bowel movements, even though she protested that she already had diarrhea from her trip. After holding Buritica for 22 hours and finding no drugs, the agents finally released her.American diplomats and soldiers stationed in Brazil shop aboard a U.S. Air Force jumbo jet cargo plane that arrives once a month with supplies from the States. Sao Paolo's Veja reported that of the 96 nations with diplomatic offices in Brazil, only the United States imports its own broccoli, prompting one diplomat to observe, "The Americans do not import the oxygen they breathe only because it is too difficult."In the breakup of the Soviet Union, the state-run Aeroflot airline was replaced by hundreds of smaller airlines. In January a senior aviation official announced that their number will be cut from 315 to 53 because they do not have the resources to run their services safely, leading to a rash of crashes in the early 1990s. In addition to the closings, more than 100 airlines went bankrupt in 1996.Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306. Fans of quirky news will enjoy the newest collection, "More Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest," by John J. Kohut & Roland Sweet (Plume paperback).


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