NewsQuirks 567

Mensa Rejects of the Week

Charles Darun Taylor, 34, rigged an electric fence to keep stray dogs out of his garden in Lakewood, Colo., but instead of 12 volts, which most livestock fences use, he wired his for 120 volts. While checking on his tomato plants, he touched the fence and was electrocuted.

Albanians living in the Kukes and Has areas near the border with Kosovo have begun digging up the thousands of live land mines planted by Serb forces last year and taking them home to store, hoping to strike it rich by eventually selling them to NATO. NATO officials insisted they have never offered to pay for mines.

Curses, Foiled Again

Police in Syracuse, N.Y., charged brothers Malcome J. Dame, 24, and Lawrence Dame, 32, with robbing a bar of more than $100. The Syracuse Herald-Journal reported officers arrived on the scene a few minutes later and found the two suspects sitting in their car in front of the bar counting the money.

Should Have Seen It Coming

After a New York Times article reported that Business Link, a division of New York City's Human Resources Administration, recruited welfare recipients to work from home as telephone psychics, city officials immediately discontinued the practice. In eight months, the program placed at least 15 people with a company called Psychic Network, a 900-number telephone service that offers callers clairvoyance at $4.99 a minute. Although applicants could work from their homes after being trained to read tarot cards and look into the future, not all of them spoke highly of the work. "You're talking people with problems that not even a soap opera can list," Judy Ann Canizzaro said, recalling troubled callers seeking advice, "and you're giving them to people who are only interested in $12 an hour."

101 Uses for Duct Tape (Nos. 57 & 89)

The director of A Place to Grow, a day-care center in Hudson, Mass., admitted duct-taping an 8-month-old girl to a wall. State officials reported the unidentified administrator thought the sight of the baby struggling was funny.

Gemini Wink, 26, of Louisville, Ky., was visiting a friend in Hillsborough County, Fla., when he walked into a Florida swamp to photograph alligators. He used duct tape to mark his trail, but he got lost anyway. Finding himself in waist-deep water as night fell and fearing an alligator attack, Wink taped himself to a tree 40 feet above the ground so he wouldn't fall out while he slept. Meanwhile, his friend called sheriff's deputies when Wink failed to return by nightfall. They found him several hours later, still taped to the tree, about 400 yards from his friend's house.

Wrong Arm of the Law

State police in Pennsylvania charged Shawn P. Phillips, a part-time police officer in East Penn Township, with paying a 10-year-old Little League pitcher $2 to hit an opposing player with a pitch. The boy who was hit had to leave the game. After the incident, the pitcher told his parents about the payoff. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Phillips confessed to the bribe, but investigators, noting he is not related to anyone on either team involved, could offer no motive.

Bryan McClendon, a sheriff's deputy in Jefferson Parish, La., stopped a heart attack victim being driven to the hospital, then reportedly mocked the man and his family while issuing a traffic ticket for running a red light, even though they begged the officer to let them proceed. According to the family, when McClendon finally issued the ticket after delaying them 30 minutes, he said, "Y'all go ahead and have your heart attack or stroke now. Have a good day."

Sex Is Its Own Punishment

Jeanne Lewis, 43, was convicted in New York City of having her lover impersonate her husband so he could use her medical insurance to treat his impotence. The $1,450 bill covered Viagra prescriptions, injections and a penile implant. The woman's husband discovered the deception when he received a statement from the insurance company for the implant, which he had never received.

When Christopher Phiri, 27, sought a divorce from his wife in Lusaka, Zambia, the high court ordered that the couple be reconciled. Judges Buxton Ng'andu and Robert Mwananshiku directed Phiri to "stick to your wife and work harder in bed."

All in the Family

Cheryl Lynn Diggs, 35, saw her children, ages 5, 7 and 8, off to school in the morning, but when they returned that afternoon, she had cleaned out their Baton Rouge, La., apartment and moved away. A neighbor took in the children and called police, who reported the apartment was empty except for a few toys scattered on the floor. Police located Diggs a week later and charged her with abandoning the youngsters.

Police in Santa Rosa, Calif., arrested Paul Loutzenhiser, 45, after his 24-year-old son told them the father had spent almost a year trying to persuade the son to accept payment to murder Loutzenhiser's wife, Leslie, who is the son's stepmother. After the arrest, police said they believed the husband had asked, in addition to her stepson, at least one co-worker and one other person to do the job.

Health Plans from Hell

A jury in Columbus, Ga., awarded $75,000 to Wes Moore, 31, who awoke from hernia surgery at Doctors Hospital to find blue markings and a tape measure around his genitals. Nurses explained it was just a prank that workers often played on patients they knew.

While Liana Gedz lay sedated on the delivery table at New York Beth Israel Medical Center after undergoing a Caesarean section, obstetrician Dr. Allan Zarkin, 61, used his scalpel to carve his initials three inches high into her abdomen. Witnesses in the operating room said that after delivering Gedz's daughter, Zarkin announced, "I did such a beautiful job, I'll initial it."

Bound to Happen

Web sites have begun publishing print versions, according to the New York Times, which credited Yahoo Internet Life and eBay magazines with paving the way. In April, Ziff-Davis announced it would begin publishing a travel magazine based on the Expedia site; Space.com announced plans for Space magazine; Nerve.com launched a print version of its arts-and-literary site; and Knot, which operates a wedding web site, published the first issue of its magazine devoted to bridal wear. "By building the web site first," Nerve co-publisher Rufus Griscom said, "we created an audience of 800,000 readers who want to see this magazine."

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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