NewsQuirks 561

Slightest ProvocationsPhiladelphia police charged Kenneth Robert Vennera, 32, an unemployed attorney, with attacking his aunt, a 62-year-old nun, because he thought she was using a dirty mop. The Philadelphia Daily News reported that Sister Marie Troilo was cleaning the family's house when Vennera complained that the mop had too much dog hair on it and began cursing at her, then knocked her head against a wall and dragged her back into the house when she tried to run away.Police in Dover Township, N.J., charged 10-year-old Christopher Harms with stabbing his father to death with a kitchen knife following a dispute over a missing container of chocolate frosting. According to Ocean County prosecutor E. David Millard, Andrew Harms accused his son of taking the frosting, then, when the argument intensified, handed him the knife and told the boy that "if he hated him that much, then he wanted him to stab him."Joe Blume, 43, was arrested after he walked into the Carmel, Ind., office of Matchmaker International, pulled a .357-caliber Magnum and demanded a $1,200 refund because the only woman the service had referred to him for a date was 47 years old. Blume said he wanted a woman of child-bearing age. Explaining the firm could issue only a check, the manager left the room. "He thought she was going to get a check," Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard told the Indianapolis Star. "She left the building and notified the police."Adding Insult to InjuryNorman Green, 51, suffered four broken ribs after a bus ran him over in Leicester, England, so he wrote to the bus company seeking damages. Instead, the company sent him a bill for $845 to repair the bus, which had a broken light and windshield. "The accident happened," company insurance manager Tony Lambell said, "because Mr. Green was not looking where he was going."Online FolliesLeading ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbis in Israel have banned their followers from using the Internet. They insist it "incites sin and abomination" and threatens the survival of the country.At least 200,000 Internet users are addicted to porn sites, X-rated chat rooms or other sexual materials online, according to a study by researchers at Stanford and Duquesne universities. Reporting their findings in the journal Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, the researchers classified users as "cybersex compulsives" if they spent more than 11 hours a week visiting sexually oriented areas and scored high on a 10-item questionnaire about relationships and attitudes toward sex. "This is a hidden public-health hazard exploding, in part, because very few are recognizing it as such or taking it seriously," the researchers said.Nice Work If You Can Get ItFlorida state Rep. George Albright introduced legislation establishing a new Cabinet post: secretary of barbecue. Appointment by the governor to a one-year term without pay, would involve promoting the enjoyment of barbecue and barbecue culture. "I am very serious. Itâs a serious subject. Barbecue is big business in this state," said Albright, who is the co-owner of two barbecue restaurants.Utah is looking for a pornography czar. The new position, which pays $75,000 a year, involves drafting a new state definition of obscenity, helping local governments "restrict, suppress or eliminate" pornography and providing information "about the dangers of obscenity." The nation's first pornography czar will have little prosecutorial power and no jurisdiction over the Internet or cable television, even though state Rep. Evan L. Olsen said he introduced legislation to create the post after his constituents complained their children were surfing the Internet for cybersex.Sheriff's deputies in Columbia County, Fla., were assigned to watch more than 1,300 pornographic videos confiscated from a video store to determine if they violate obscenity laws. The deputies insisted the review would take them at least several weeks.Is There a Tenor in the House?During a performance of Verdiâs opera "Aida" in Parma, Italy, tenor Gegam Grigorian, who was singing the lead role, lost his voice in the first act due to to the flu. Alberto Cupido, another tenor who happened to be in the audience, was asked to fill in. Even though he had never sung the role before, Cupido, wearing casual clothes and holding a copy of the score, completed the performance to a standing ovation.Close to HomePolice in the Austrian village of St. Georgen an der Gusen arrested a 16-year-old volunteer firefighter for deliberately setting 13 fires in three months. His most recent target was his own home. Investigators said the arsonistâs motives were unclear but noted that he showed great enthusiasm in helping to put out the fires.Volunteer firefighters responding to an alarm in Chumuckla, Fla., arrived to find their own firehouse burning. The first firefighter on the scene managed to save two trucks, but the building itself burned down in 30 minutes. Investigators suspected the fire was caused by a propane heater installed three days earlier to keep water from freezing.Inflated EpisodeWhen Samanta Munns, 35, fell off a stepladder at her toy store in Cheltenham, England, she impaled her left thigh on a canister used to blow up childrenâs balloons. The pressurized helium was injected into her body, causing her thigh and belly to swell up to twice their normal size. Since the only cure was to lie still while the gas was absorbed, Munns had to remain immobile for two weeks until the bubble deflated.Boo-Hoo BrewBritainâs Department of Trade and Industry proposed making it illegal for a pub to pour a glass of beer with more than 5 percent foam after a trade group for drinkersâ rights charged that pubs are making a profit on froth. The Campaign for Real Ale charged that British beer drinkers paid $400 million for foam in 1998.Facial hair wastes beer, according to the Guinness brewing company. Noting that yearly losses range from 12 pounds a year for mustaches to 23 pounds for full beards, the company said its research showed that an estimated 92,370 mustachioed Guinness drinkers lose up to 162,719 pints a year, worth $675,900. "A genuine mustache has been proven to contribute to a significant Guinness wastage," the company said, "as a result of inter-fiber retention at every sip."Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306. Quirky news fans will enjoy the latest collection, "Real Sex: Titillating-But-True Tales of Bizarre Fetishes, Strange Compulsions and Just Plain Weird Stuff," compiled by John J. Kohut and Roland Sweet (Plume Books).

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