NewsQuirks 469

Shortly after Hale McGee, a candidate for Congress in Ontario, Calif., declared on television that crime is not a problem in his district, he and his campaign manager were posting a campaign sign at a gas station when two gunmen approached and robbed them. "I feel like I have egg and goo all over me," McGee admitted afterward. Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., spoke emotionally at a Senate hearing last summer, recalling what it felt like to be an Italian-American in the 1950s during televised Senate hearings on the Mafia that conveyed the impression many Italian-Americans were criminals. "It was only a flickering television screen," he said, "but I will never forget it." The daily paper Roll Call noted that Torricelli was born only five days before the hearings ended. Hard Sells South Korea's Kia car makers agreed to drop a television commercial re- creating the crash that killed Princess Diana in Paris last August. London tabloids reported the ad showed a Diana look-alike in a Kia being chased through streets by paparazzi, then emerging from the wreck unhurt and giving the camera a knowing wink. A Thai advertising agency apologized for using Adolf Hitler to sell potato chips after Israeli embassy officials called the TV ads "disgusting." The spots for X potato chips show Hitler in military uniform tasting the chips, then giving a Nazi salute in front of a Nazi flag while the swastika changes into the X logo. Posters for the chips suggest that eating the snacks would turn even Hitler into a fun-loving, likable character. Curses, Foiled Again William Brown was quickly arrested after robbing a bank in Elyria, Ohio, where all the tellers knew him. What's more, according to court records, he signed the holdup note he handed the teller. Finally, while leaving the bank, Brown dropped his Human Services identification card. When a 16-year-old boy walked into Mervyn Reynolds' coin shop in Newport News, Va., and tried to sell four historical bank notes, Reynolds immediately recognized them as ones that had been stolen from his home the week before. When police questioned the youth, he identified three other men as the culprits. Oops! Madison, Wis. police Chief Richard Williams turned on his oven to roast some turkey but forgot that was one of his favorite hiding places for his gun. "Shortly thereafter: boom!" police spokesperson Jeana Kerr said, adding that Williams was given a one-day, unpaid suspension for violating his department's firearms policy. Hair Apparent Fishermen in the Russian port of Magadan have been buying Chinese-made Barbie dolls to use their blonde hair as bait. According to Interfax news agency, fishermen discovered the hair is very popular with the local fish. Human hair discarded by hair salons and barber shops could be used to clean up oil spills, according to Alabama hairdresser Phillip McCrory. He told the New York Times that the idea came to him in 1989 after seeing television footage of an otter soaked in oil from the Exxon Valdez spill. Figuring if the otter's fur soaked up oil, so might human hair, he stuffed four pounds of hair from his shop into a pair of tights, filled his son's wading pool with water, added a gallon of used motor oil and threw in the hair. "In two minutes, the water was crystal clear," he said. McCrory's next test was a diesel oil spill at the nearby NASA flight center in Huntsville. He made a filter with 16 pounds of hair in a barrel that turned the water clean enough to dump in a sewer. NASA technician Maurice Hale conducted further tests and concluded that 1.4 million pounds of hair could have soaked up the 11 million gallons spilled by the Exxon Valdez in about a week. Catch-22 A German appeals court refused to grant political asylum to a 31-year-old Afghan refugee, explaining that the man did not risk persecution from the Afghan government because there is no Afghan government. The court said the government ended in 1992 when the communist regime was overthrown by Islamic militia groups, which have been fighting each other ever since, and that "anarchic conditions" do not warrant political asylum. Clarification White supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin, whom authorities believe killed 17 people, objected to being called a serial killer. "I don't like that term at all," he told the Johnstown, Pa., Tribune-Democrat from his jail cell in Chattanooga, Tenn. "I don't consider myself a serial killer. If I'm a serial killer, then King David was a serial killer. So was Samson. I would classify myself as just a killer." Getting His Kicks After compiling a professional record of 20 wins and two losses, Thai kick boxer Pirinya Kaibusaba, 16, made his debut at Bangkok's Lumpini Stadium in February. His biggest challenge wasn't his opponent but the weigh-in before the bout. Pirinya, an unabashed transvestite who powders his nose during training, wore makeup and pink nail polish to the weigh-in but broke into tears when he learned that fighters at Lumpini Stadium must be weighed in the nude in front of officials and reporters. Softened by his sobs, Lumpini officials eventually let him step on the scales in his underwear. USA Today reported the 140-pounder then went on to pummel his opponent. Endangered Gender The birth rate for boys is declining in Western industrialized countries, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Although the reasons for the change are unknown, the report's authors suggested that human reproduction is being altered by exposure to chemical pollutants in the environment, notably chemicals dubbed "endocrine disruptors" that are commonly used in pesticides and other industrial products. Among other evidence, the researchers noted a recent increase in defects of the sexual organs of baby boys linked to these manufactured chemicals. Seemed L ike a Good Idea at the Time To promote Ohio's Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month, the Carroll County Human Services Department proposed giving about 150 teachers in Carrollton pocketknives imprinted with a phone number to report abuse. School Superintendent Michael Maiorca nixed the giveaway, explaining that since students can't carry knives, they would be inappropriate gifts for teachers.


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