NewsQuirks 560

Curses, Foiled AgainJohnny Sanes, 30, attracted plenty of attention as one of six contestants living inside a glass house set up at a shopping mall as part of a Knoxville, Tenn., radio station promotion. Sanes's ex-wife saw his picture in media reports of the contest and notified Loudon County authorities, who drove to the mall, entered the glass house and arrested Sanes for failing to pay child support.Look, But Don't TouchBoston public schools have spent more than $28 million since the 1996-97 school year to buy new textbooks and study materials, but many schools refuse to let students take the new books home, fearing they will be stolen, lost or damaged. "They are punishing the kids who want to learn," parent Kim OâConnell told the Boston Globe. "How are they going to learn if they don't give them books?"Sticking PointsDarlene Jones, 62, was on her way to a supermarket in Darby, Pa., when she was attacked and struck in the neck. Police said her assailant didnât stop, so she continued to the store, where she bought a newspaper and some cookies, then walked the half-mile home. While Jones was undressing to take a shower, her daughter saw a knife sticking out of her neck. Apparently it had been there since the assault and when she was in the store, where "five or six people walked right past her without even noticing," Darby Police Chief Robert F. Smythe said after Jones was hospitalized in serious condition, adding that supermarket surveillance cameras showed the woman strolling through the aisles with the knife handle clearly visible.Tirisa Ruiz, 43, tried to smuggle an automatic pistol into Picota prison in Bogota, Colombia, by hiding it deep in her rectum, but she couldn't remove it and complained of discomfort after her visit. El Tiempo newspaper reported the 7.65-mm. weapon had gotten caught in her colon, forcing her to undergo surgery at El Tunal hospital.Fast-Food FolliesSheriff's deputies in Luling, La., charged Anthony Waguespack, 48, with DWI after he drove backwards through a Wendy's restaurant's drive-through, then got his car stuck on a parking lot curb and passed out. Sheriff's Office Capt. Pat Yoes said deputies were unable to conduct a field sobriety test because Waguespack couldn't stand up without falling over.Five McDonald's restaurants in Santa Ana, Calif., implemented new technology to speed up service in the drive-through line. Customers equipped with the same devices that lets motorists skip stops on toll roads will be automatically billed for their food with their toll-road statements. McDonald's said drive-through motorists who don't have to stop and pay for their food will cut 15 seconds off the normal 131-second wait.McDonald's opened an outlet in Rio de Janeiroâs largest slum that serves only ice cream and mineral water. Residents persuaded the company to drop plans to offer hamburgers and soft drinks because of concern that such sales would hurt local hamburger vendors. Although the slum has as many as 300,000 residents, the new McDonald's kiosk, which employs nine workers, has received a lukewarm reception, neighborhood association president Tania Rodrigues told Reuters news agency, "because it doesn't have anything but desserts."Up in the AirOne hundred fifty-five passengers aboard a Northwest Airlines flight waiting to depart Las Vegas airport were delayed more than an hour after being told the captain had gone looking for a "decent meal." When the special in-flight meal he had ordered wasn't delivered, Floyd Dean, a 22-year veteran pilot with the airline, announced he was leaving to find something else to eat. He failed to turn up anything suitable in the airport, then took a cab to buy food outside the airport.Better Than RealityAfter Ensign Herb Lacy, 24, who had never flown, taught himself to fly the Navy's T-34C trainer by customizing Microsoft's Flight Simulator computer game, the Navy announced it would use Lacyâs software in six makeshift T-34C flight simulators equipped with personal computers. Each simulator costs around $6,000, compared to millions of dollars for conventional simulators, according to Rear Admiral Mike Bucchi, chief of the Naval Air Training Command at Corpus Christi, Texas, who declared, "I'm just flabbergasted."Pretend pilots using Microsoft's Flight Simulator now can experience added realism, thanks to the creation of a simulated air traffic control system. According to the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, enthusiastic pilots wrote the ATC software, and players are linked through a network of computers connected via the Internet, making this the first parallel world in the history of computer games. To make sure the simulated system works like the real one, fictive air traffic controllers must pass a difficult test. They also track as many as 250 planes at a time on their screen, maintain flight safety, hand some flights off to neighboring regions and bring others in for safe landings.Rocket ScienceNASA officials acknowledged that its $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter was lost last fall because one set of engineers was working with metric measurements while another worked with English measurements. The discrepancy resulted in a navigational error that caused the spacecraft to fly too close to Mars, where it either burned up in the planet's atmosphere or broke apart.A soldier at Fort Hood, Texas, who entered the wrong trajectory data into a howitzer's computer caused the early morning shelling of ranch land and homes seven miles north of the Army base. The barrage created craters 6 feet wide and shook people out bed, but no one was injured.School officials in Florida's Palm Beach County reported that state-issued calculators used by students during February's statewide Comprehensive Assessment Tests gave incorrect answers to math problems. About 17,500 secondary-school students used the Casio HS-10 calculators.Skim ScamItalian police arrested 14 employees of a company involved in a scam to steal jet fuel while refueling airlines at Milan's Malpensa airport. The suspects reportedly skimmed off up to 4,000 or 5,000 liters of fuel, worth around $840, for every refueling between 1994 and 1998, then sold the stolen fuel as diesel or heating oil. The thefts went undetected, one pilot told Milan's Corriere della Sera newspaper, because jet fuel "is measured in liters on the ground and in kilos on board the aircraft, so for every refueling thereâs always a 3-percent margin of error." Authorities were eventually tipped off by the suspiciously lavish lifestyles of the 14 employees.Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nationâs press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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