NewsQuirks 530

Curses, Foiled AgainThree teen-agers were charged with robbing a bank in Grand Junction, Colo., after one of them sent a pair of pants to the laundry, where a worker found the holdup note in one of the pockets.Moises Polanco, 18, and Fernando Rosa, 23, both of New London, Conn., were charged in connection with a convenience store robbery and murder after police reviewed the surveillance tape. One of the gunmen pulled his shirt over his face to hide his identity, but in doing so he revealed distinctive tattoos of the words "Forgive Me" on his abdomen and a crucifixion on his back, which led police to identify Polanco.Tough LoveOklahoma Gov. Frank Keating signed into law a bill reminding parents they have the right to spank, paddle or whip their wayward children. State law already allows spanking, but supporters of the bill said it was to let parents know their rights. The bill was introduced in reaction to Colorado's Columbine High School shootings in April. "Back when I grew up, we got our tails whipped at school, then got it again when we got home," said the bill's author, state Sen. Frank Shurden. "We didn't have shootings."Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster signed a bill compelling students to address their teachers as ma'am or sir. They must also refer to all adults as Mr. Mrs. Ms. or Miss. The law applies to those in kindergarten through fifth grade; higher grades will be phased in over the next few years.Virtual SalvationThe Vatican is considering naming a patron saint of the Internet. The likely candidate is St. Isidore, the sixth-century Bishop of Seville, whose 20-volume "The Etymologies" summarized all the learning of the time, from theology to furniture.User FeesThe Dallas office of the Better Business Bureau began charging $9.95 to handle each complaint against a business. The bureau handles about 1,400 complaints a month. Bureau president Jay Newman said the fee is needed to speed up services but will be waived for consumers who say they can't afford it.Britain's Court of Appeals dismissed an indebted woman's claim that she was denied the right to declare herself bankrupt because she couldn't pay the $400 required by law for official bankruptcy proceedings. Cleo Lightfoot, 52, had argued that the bankruptcy payment law, which prevented her from declaring herself bankrupt despite debts of $95,000, was unlawful.Only the LonelyPolice in Moscow arrested Olga Karpov, 21, for causing eight accidents by throwing herself under the cars of good-looking male drivers. "I thought that one of the men might ask me out to make up for it," Karpov said, although she had little opportunity to talk with the drivers since she was too busy being taken to the hospital.Welcome Break-insGerman police announced they were searching for a gang that raids houses and spends hours mopping, polishing and dusting. Nothing is ever taken except some food from the refrigerator.Los Angeles police arrested Ataya Rsaya, 31, for breaking into several homes. Before leaving with the owners' valuables, he often cleaned clothes, fixed dinners and rearranged furniture.Dental Plans from HellLos Angeles police charged Raul Alberto Rodriguez, 43, with practicing dentistry without a license after they found him running a dental office from his bedroom.A Greek court sentenced dentist Theodoros Vassiliadis to four years in prison for causing bodily harm to seven patients. An Athens television station reported he used oversized screws taken from TV sets to fix implants in patients' mouths. "He destroyed the whole upper part of my mouth," one patient testified. "The screws he put in were 30 millimeters (1.2 inches) long."Outwitting Y2KThe Ukraine's nuclear power industry will not be disrupted by the millennium bug, insisted industry director, Olexander Park. He explained that the country's nuclear plants are far too obsolete to be disrupted by computer problems.Call of the WildNoise pollution threatens marine life by disrupting sea creatures' ability to find food, mate, protect their young and escape predators, according to a report issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council. It blamed noise from supertankers, oil exploration and new military sonar equipment for scrambling the communications systems of sea life, forcing changes in migration routes and breeding grounds. "If you just went out and listened in the Channel Islands, you'd be appalled," said Cornell University bioacoustics expert Christopher W. Clark. "Those places off San Francisco, off Los Angeles -- you're just in the middle of an acoustics traffic jam."Cell-phone chatter, already commonplace in shopping malls, restaurants and other public places, is heard increasingly in the wilderness, prompting New York environmental officials to promote phone etiquette in remote areas. "To be walking down a trail or expend the effort it takes to climb one of the high peaks, and to see someone on the telephone," said Stu Buchanan, regional director of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, "it's disconcerting."Meanwhile, Maine's Baxter State Park has banned the use of cell phones on park grounds. Park naturalist Jean Hoekwater said the ban is aimed in part at nuisance calls along the lines of, "Honey? Guess what I'm in front of right now. A big moose!"Hair-Trigger PersonalitiesA man bled to death in New Delhi after his wife stabbed him for demanding a second cup of tea, which she was not ready to serve.Authorities in Malta charged Francis Buhagiar, 68, with shooting his 76-year-old sister Maria to death because he didn't like the breakfast she served him. Apparently, the toast was burned.Paolo Fasano, 71, killed his 74-year-old wife Piera in Alessandria, Italy, because she had the volume turned up too loud while watching a music festival on television. After hitting her with an iron and strangling her with a tie, Fasano told authorities, "I didn't know what to do. So I sat down next to her in front of the television. But I lowered the volume."Another Case for EsperantoWhen police in Newark, Del., pulled over a car for driving the wrong way down a one-way street, it stopped on a train track. None of the four men in the car spoke English, but by the time a Spanish-speaking officer arrived to translate, a freight train was approaching, and the car would not start. The train plowed into the car, killing the driver and seriously injuring one of the passengers.Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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