NewsQuirks 572

Curses, Foiled Again

While stabbing suspect Edney Raphael, 39, was fleeing from Philadelphia police, he turned around to see if his pursuers were gaining and ran head-first into a parking meter. The dazed suspect, still clutching the bloody knife used in the attack, was easily taken into custody.

A shoplifting suspect in Detroit was fleeing from security guards when she hopped into a trash compactor to hide. Police Officer Glen Woods said the woman's weight activated the machine, which crushed her to death.

Darryl Adams was arrested for burglary in Milledgeville, Ga., after sheriff's deputies found blood on a broken window at the home and the front doorbell missing. They checked the local emergency room and turned up the suspect, who had a bad cut and a doorbell in his pocket.

Ultimate Getaway

A group of investors signed a $20-million deal to lease the Mir space station from Russia and turn it into a luxury vacation resort. "This is an extremely serious effort," insisted Jeffrey Manber, president of Mircorp, the company behind the deal. "We believe that if we are successful, the renovation of Mir will be one of the great undertakings of the century."

Barnum Was Right

Federal authorities reported that an unspecified number of people paid between $69 and $150 for remote-control devices advertised exclusively on the Internet as having the ability to turn traffic lights from red to green. U.S. Attorney Tom Scott said some people who sent checks or money orders for the devices, called "Go-boxes," either got nothing or received schematic drawings and instructions to construct what turned out be a flashing strobe light.

Tax Dollars at Work

The U.S. Mint disclosed it is spending $40 million to persuade Americans to use its new $1 coin. Stanley Collender of the Mint's public relations agency, Fleishman-Hillard, told USA Today that television and print ads for the Sacagawea dollars feature George Washington, rather than a more recent celebrity, because the first President has been dead long enough that using his image is free and because "one of the problems with live celebrities is you never know what kind of trouble they are going to get in tomorrow."

They Came from Beneath the Sea

Scientists at Pennsylvania State University reported that giant tube worms found 1,700 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico live up to 250 years -- a record for creatures without a backbone. The 10-foot-long worms, which live in clusters of millions covering acres of ocean floor, do not eat but survive by absorbing energy from chemicals that seep up through cracks in the sea floor.

Not-So-Silent Night

Ray John, 58, intended to spend an alcohol-free Christmas with 19 Cistercian monks on Caldey Island off the coast of west Wales, as he had done for the past 30 years. This time, however, he brought along some alcohol, had a few drinks and around midnight began loudly singing his favorite Christmas carols. The Roman Catholic monks were unable to stop him because they observe a strict rule of silence for 12 hours every night. "All we could do was lie in our beds and cover our ears," Abbot Father Daniel Van Santvoort said, noting that John was asked to leave the next day. He continued his binge on the mainland, where police found him passed out on railroad tracks.


After hijacking a Philippine Airlines jet and robbing the 291 passengers and crew on board, Augusto Lakandula ordered the pilot to descend to 6,000 feet, then jumped out with his loot and a homemade parachute. The lavendar-colored chute apparently fell off, and Lakandula, who had never skydived before, landed in mud near a reservoir at Liabac in Quezon province. "The body was embedded in the ground with only the hands protruding," national police chief Panfilo Lacson told reporters.

Matthew Coleman, 22, of Walkersville, Md., died while bungee jumping from a gondola on a cable car in the Swiss Alps when the guides who supervised the jump attached an elastic cord that was too long, and he slammed into the ground. A photograph of the jump shows the guides attaching a red cord, which is intended for jumps from a higher point, instead of the correct green cord.

Litigation Nation

Lawyer Jean Munroe filed a $3-million lawsuit on behalf of a 14-year-old boy, who wore his mother's panties and bra to a Knoxville, Tenn., radio station to win concert tickets. According to the suit, when the boy arrived to collect the tickets, dressed as the disc jockey had instructed him, the DJ fitted him with a dog collar and chained him to a parking lot fence, then announced the boy's location and "exhorted the listening audience to come by and see the minor plaintiff and his hillbilly bod."

The boy was later taken to a video store and a bar, where he was asked to "table dance," then given his tickets. The suit charges the experience -- described as conduct "so outrageous as to not be tolerated by civilized society" -- caused emotional distress.

Miss Nude Spain filed a lawsuit against Miss Nude Venezuela, charging that the defendant stole her dress and won't return it. Miss Nude Venezuela countersued, claiming that Miss Nude Spain owes her storage fees. According to the Waukegan, Wis., News-Sun, Miss Nude Spain -- Anna Navarrette, 21, of Milwaukee -- designed the dress to use in her striptease act. She lent it to Samaka Sautner, 28, of Great Lakes, Wis., who wore it while winning the Miss Nude Venezuela contest last spring. The two remained friends until they roomed together last fall for the Miss Nude World Pageant, when they had a falling out after Navarrette was eliminated from the competition earlier than Sautner.

Navarrette left, but said that when she asked for her dress and other items, Sautner refused. Sautner insisted she made numerous requests for Navarrette to retrieve the items, but Navarrette "failed to do so." Although the missing dress is Navarrette's signature outfit, she said she has been able to continue performing wearing her "kitty cat, spy and French maid" outfits.

Preventive Sportsmanship

Indian authorities announced that during a cricket match between India and South Africa, they would cover the stands with huge fishing nets to prevent fans from throwing water bottles at players. The move followed an incident last year when spectators disrupted play by hurling water bottles and stones at Australian players during a loss by India.

Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.