NewsQuirks 574

Thou Shalt Not Speed

A police speed trap in Italy's Umbrian region netted a convoy of seven cars going 86 miles per hour in a 56-mph zone. The cars were transporting seven bishops from Rome to an annual Catholic Church meeting.

Balky Bulk

Half of British men wear pants that are too tight, but only 10 percent will admit it, according to a survey by Stephen Gray of Nottingham Trent University. "Men tend to stand in front of a mirror and pull in their stomachs, and then they think they look OK. For the same reason, they will squeeze into trousers which are too small because they don't want to admit they have put on weight," Gray said, noting only 40 percent of the men who were shown three-dimensional images of their bodies correctly identified themselves.

Meanwhile, overweight British women said the extra poundage is wrecking their social lives, damaging their careers and health and ruining their sex lives. Many of the women who responded to a survey by Slimming magazine are so distraught about their figures said they won't eat in public and insisted they will try almost anything to get slim.

T & A

A New York jury awarded $30,000 to former exotic dancer Mary Gale, 43, who sued Park Avenue plastic surgeon Dr. Elliot Jacobs for using breast implants to bolster her buttocks. Jacobs testified that Gale "knew what she was getting" in 1990 when she underwent the procedure, noting no commercial buttock implants were available at the time, but Gale insisted the procedure so disfigured her that she could no longer perform in men's clubs. "I couldn't dance. I would have looked like a freak show," she testified, adding, "Breast implants belong in the breast area."

Lest We Forget

Workers renovating the conservatory at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., dug up a time capsule that was buried just 12 years ago. The find upset many employees of the facility because the capsule contains a list of complaints against a group of former bosses. Some of the complainers still work there.

Thirty-one years ago, students at Post Elementary School in Westminster, Calif., wrote their predictions for the future and buried them in a glass jar on school grounds. Former student Susan Pike, 41, kept a map for the time capsule and a reminder to dig it up in 2000. When the time came, however, they were unable to find the jar, despite hours of digging.

It was only six years ago that 500 sixth-graders at Lamar Middle School in San Marcos, Fla., filled a time capsule with mementos, then buried it at San Marcos High School, to be opened just before the Class of 2000 graduated. When the time came to dig it up, school officials discovered the time capsule they thought was the right one actually belonged to the Class of 1994, to be opened at their 10-year reunion. Administrators, maintenance workers and seniors dug holes all over the grounds looking for the lost capsule but found nothing.

Shop Till You Drop

Muslim religious authorities officially condemned people who shop at a Sainsbury supermarket that opened in Cairo last year. Local shopkeepers requested the edict because they are enraged at being undercut, according to Ali Ibrahim, editor of the Egyptian Mail, even though they have been overcharging customers themselves for years. The so-called "Sainsbury fatwa" declares that people who shop at the cut-rate supermarket will suffer a most terrible fate on Judgment Day.

Researchers are testing a new drug they hope will cure millions of compulsive shoppers. The London Sunday Telegraph reported the drug, which is being tested on volunteers at Stanford University in California, is a selective seratonin-re-uptake-inhibitor (SSRI), part of a family of anti-depressants that includes Prozac. According to the American Psychological Association, 15 million Americans, mostly women, are compulsive shoppers, with another 40 million on the brink. Compulsive shoppers, or oniomaniacs, become so overcome by guilt after their spending sprees that the only way to relieve their feelings is more shopping.

Because It's There

Eight Americans embarked on an expedition to conquer Mount Everest, not by climbing it but by cleaning up the trash left by previous climbers that is turning the world's highest peak into an eyesore and an environmental hazard. Many expeditions have helped clean up the base camp at 17,600 feet, but this will be the first group to venture to South Col, which at 26,000 feet is the highest of Everest's five camps. "We'll be cleaning up all of the tents, all of the poles, all of the fuel canisters, 700 to 1,000 oxygen bottles and all of the garbage off this beautiful peak," said expedition leader Bob Hoffman, 57.

After spending 18 years and $1.5 billion trying to clean up a nuclear waste site in New York state using robots and remote-controlled ovens, scientists announced they are turning to zeolite, a family of 48 minerals that absorbs odors and moisture. Zeolite is the principal ingredient of cat litter.

Russia claims a new U.S. radar station being built in Norway violates the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty because it will be used to monitor missile launches from Russian test sites. U.S. authorities insist the station is intended solely to track space debris that threatens orbiting satellites.

Drivers Ed

Physical and verbal assaults against France's 500 driving-test inspectors have risen 150 percent since 1994, according to union officials, who point out that the episodes result from permit applicants exploding in humiliation after learning they have failed the 20-minute road test, which fewer than 60 percent pass. In one case in Brittany, a man who failed chased his inspector with a syringe, claimed it contained AIDS-tainted blood. In Melun, near Paris, a 23-year-old man who failed wavered between suicide and revenge, then loaded a pistol with rubber bullets, returned to the testing center and shot the inspector in the ear and back. "Our inspectors are threatened all the time," said Laurent Grognu, who heads the examiners' national union. "In many communities in France, the driving inspector is a well-known figure, as there are so few of us. We're working in fear of our lives."

Police said Carlton Jackson, 35, stole at least 10 trucks over a five-month period to improve his driving skills. The rigs were taken from freight companies in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, driven for a few days, then abandoned near Jackson's home in Kenner, La. Detectives, who identified Jackson from fingerprints found in the vehicles, said that when they searched his home, they found applications to several trucking schools.


British schoolboy Porl French, 11, was standing on a chair pretending a pool cue was a pogo stick when he slipped off and impaled himself on the cue. It pierced his scrotum and emerged through his stomach. Surgeons at the Diana, Princess of Wales hospital in Grimsby worked for an hour to remove the cue.

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.