NewsQuirks 465

Missing the PointSohan Singh has banned customers from his grocery store in Burmantofts, England, telling the London Guardian newspaper that he was forced to take such drastic action because of people's bad manners. First he banned smoking, then crude language, baby strollers, pets and finally customers themselves. Shoppers now must look through the window to spot items they want, then ring a small bell to be served through a small hatch in the door. "I have lost business, but I cannot say how much," Singh said. "I am a man of principles, and I stand by my decision."When Michael Martin arrived late for his marriage counseling session at St. James Episcopal Church in Fresno, Calif., and drinking a beer, his wife Bonnie Martin started to walk out. The husband pulled a gun and shot her. According to their counselor, the Rev. Russell Willingham, the bleeding wife pulled a pistol from her purse and shot her husband in the shoulder. The two then left the church and continued their gun battle, with Bonnie Martin collapsing and Michael Martin shooting her at least once more before he ran out of bullets. "It's a good thing that he had been drinking because he could have hit her more," said the Rev. Bud Searcy, head of New Creation Ministries, which runs the counseling sessions. "He was a lousy shot."Strange TailsA renegade deer that terrorized the Norwegian town of Aardalstangen for several weeks finally went too far when it used its antlers to pick up a chain saw from Olav Haereid's yard and ran off with it. The Aarsal og Laerdal Avis newspaper reported that the chain saw was so heavy, the deer managed to carry it only a few yards, but by then townspeople had had enough of the deer and shot it. "Sad, but we had no choice," forester Vidar Moen told the newspaper. "People were becoming frightened of the big animal."Animals at Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo were deprived of their usual food in April when all bread products were removed for Passover. Even though the dietary ban against leavened food products applies to people, not animals, zoo officials said they were concerned that if the animals kept to their normal diets, devout zookeepers and visitors might come in contact with the banned foods.When a noisy construction crew woke up chimpanzees at a wild animal park in southern France, eight of the chimps attacked the workers, mauling one of the men so badly that he needed 30 stitches in his face and neck. Another worker escaped by jumping into a pond, and five other park employees hid in a walk-in freezer until the animals were subdued.Traffic was tied up in Cairo, Egypt, when two rams destined for slaughter took an instant dislike to each other and began fighting in the street. The Al-Gumhuriya newspaper reported that as motorists stopped to watch, the animals' owner tried to separate the battling rams, only to be thrown to the ground. Finally, traffic police subdued the animals.A group of battery hens being tested to see whether television images would calm their self-destructive aggressive tendencies became hooked on the images, according to researchers at Scotland's Roslin Institute. "Now, as soon as the TV appears, they whiz across and spend time there," researcher Bryan Jones told New Scientist magazine, noting that images of fish and flying toasters had so far had the most calming effect.Dumbing DownSlower population growth in developed countries could cause intelligence to drop, according to British psychologist Richard Lynn of the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. Noting that intelligence has increased worldwide for decades, largely because of improved diet, Lynn told the annual conference of the British Psychological Society that as environmental factors have improved, the genetic factor for intelligence has decreased because smarter people are having fewer children.Vacations make people stupid, according to German researcher Siegfried Lehrl of the University of Erlangen, especially those where people spend most of their time relaxing. "Through the lack of intellectual activity during a holiday, when most Germans prefer to lie on a towel by the beach, nerve cells in the frontal lobe begin to shrink," he said. "After just five days, the IQ had dropped by 5 percent and after three weeks by 20 percent."Nearer My GodBritish evangelist John Holme insisted he saw heaven in the air over Salisbury, England, and decided to get a closer look by flying over the town in a motorized paraglider. He took along a megaphone to alert others. "I thought that maybe if they heard this voice booming out from the sky, they would think it was God," he said. Instead, a local magistrate fined Holme $1,730 plus court costs for flying too close to a populated area, prompting the preacher to lament, "I can't believe I've got a criminal record after this."Three men who turned over all their money and possessions -- amounting to $264,390 -- to Jim Harmston, the self-proclaimed prophet of The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days, announced they were suing the sect because Harmston failed to deliver on his promise of providing them with a face-to-face meeting with Jesus Christ.Hon-Ming Chen, leader of a Taiwanese spiritual sect, predicted that God would materialize at his home in the Dallas suburb of Garland, Texas, then reproduce himself hundreds of times, shake hands with those present and talk to them in their native languages. Dozens of observers gathered to witness the event but saw no such miracle. Chen insisted afterward that God had indeed landed but nobody noticed. He explained that God had entered the bodies and souls of those present, and those who didn't see him were denying their identity as humans. What's more, Chen said, since everyone now was God, they could answer their own questions in their own language and simply shake their right hands with their left.News BitesFrederick, Md., Mayor Jim Grimes and the Board of Aldermen asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance to ban biting a police dog. The action resulted from an altercation at a butcher shop when Harry William Shuff Jr., 30, became violent and bit off part of a police dog's ear while officers tried to subdue him.When a pit bull attacked her German shepherd-collie mix in Woodbridge, N.J., Belinda Bechtold, 39, bit down on the attacker's ear and startled it into letting go. "I bit as hard as I could," she said afterwards.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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