NewsQuirks 585

Curses, Foiled Again

Ricky Boice, 24, and Steven Gosnell, 42, were charged with robbing a gas station in East Peoria, Ill., after police captured them two blocks from the scene of the crime, where their car ran out of gas.

Warren Dixon, 31, a fugitive wanted on drug charges, was captured at an amusement park in Queensbury, N.Y., called "The Great Escape" when he ran into 60 police officers enjoying a day at the park as part of a Police Benevolent Association outing and several of the officers recognized him.

Eternal Leftovers

Six families in Plant City, Fla., announced they are trying to sell 400 cases of dehydrated food they bought via the Internet to survive Y2K. The Associated Press said the powdered meals, enough to feed a family of four for seven years, cost each family about $6,000.

When Guns Are Outlawed

Police investigating a case of road rage in Ship Bottom, N.J., charged Kirk Davis, 23, with throwing a cooked, foil-wrapped potato at Gary Baldwin, 45, who made a hand gesture after Davis honked at him. "It's funny to some degree but not funny," Baldwin told the Asbury Park Press. "This was a big potato."

Parents of the Year (Tie)

Police in Vacaville, Calif., accused Helen Chase, 29, of giving away her 10-year-old son to a stranger in St. Petersburg, Fla., whom she met over the Internet. "She told us basically, yeah, she was having trouble with her 10-year-old -- problems at school, that sort of thing -- really typical 10-year-old stuff," Detective Patrick Cowan said. "She just decided she couldn't deal with this kid and wanted to adopt him out."

After Jennifer Simmons, 19, spent years looking for her natural mother, Elizabeth M. Katrini, she was reunited with her last year and went to live with the 38-year-old woman, her husband, Paul Leonard Padilla, 41, and their three children, ages 11, 13 and 14. Police said that for the next 14 months the couple forced Simmons to live in a storage shed and tortured her repeatedly with electric shocks, knives and sticks. According to a police report, when Simmons "misbehaved," she was forced to bang her head against a wall while the family chanted "quiet riot." She finally escaped and wandered into a convenience store in August.

Damon Hopkins, 29, told Philadelphia police he was shot and wounded by his landlord, who tried to evict him from his apartment because he objected to her raising his rent. He identified the landlord as his mother, Laverne Hopkins, 48. "She was trying to put me out of the building," Damon Hopkins told Municipal Judge Frank Palumbo. "She wanted $100 more. I refused to pay the rent." Claiming self-defense, the mother's attorney, Daniel M. Preminger, said his client "had only one problem tenant in the building, and that was her son."

Missed the Message

While attending her husband's trial on a drunk-driving charge in Sanford, Fla., Darlene Goglin, 43, was arrested at the courthouse and charged with driving under the influence.

To avoid a traffic conviction, David Carlson, 22, signed up to take a defensive driving class at state police headquarters in Joliet, Ill., but he fell asleep during the class. When the instructor, Sgt. Jeff Hanford, woke Carlson after class ended to tell him he failed because of nonparticipation, he noticed the smell of alcohol and gave Carlson a breath test, which he failed. Carlson promised he wouldn't drive home, then went to his car and began driving off. State police stopped Carlson and arrested him for DUI. "He wasn't my star pupil," Hanford said.

After praising a new Florida law ending the requirement that motorcyclists wear helmets, Dorothy Lynette Rushton, 40, died when she was thrown more than 50 feet from her Harley-Davidson while not wearing a helmet. Highway Patrol Cpl. John Schultz said a helmet would almost certainly have saved her life.

Changes

A year after an Iranian man had a sex-change operation to become a woman, she declared she wants to return to being a man because a woman's life in Iran's conservative Islamic society is too restrictive. "First I thought I wou ld get used to it," 25-year-old Maryam, formerly Mehran, told the newspaper Iran, "but life has become painful and intolerable."

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority added a third bathroom to one of its maintenance facilities to accommodate a worker who is in the process of changing gender from male to female but at this stage isn't comfortable sharing facilities with either sex. The facility, which cost $8,000, has a shower stall, toilet and sink for the transsexual worker, although MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said any other employee who needs privacy also can use the bathroom.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the Board of Immigration Appeals to grant Mexican homosexual, Geovanni Hernandez-Montiel asylum because he likes to dress and act like a woman. "We conclude as a matter of law," Judge A. Wallace Tashima stated, "that gay men with female sexual identities in Mexico constitute a Œparticular social group.'"

After Pat Spray met Katherine Niland on the Internet, they became friends and married when Niland came to America from Ireland. When the Sprays applied for a marriage-based visa for Katherine, however, the Immigration and Naturalization Service refused the request, threatened to prosecute the couple for marriage fraud and began deportation procedures against Katherine. The couple told the Washington Post the INS accused them of having a sham marriage because Pat, 44, used to be a woman, and Katherine, 31, was born a man. "They are hunting us," Katherine said, "and the only reason we can think of is that we are transgendered. They want me gone."

Truth or Dare

After the findings of a $27-million study funded by the cell-phone industry to look into health risks of cell-phone were declared inconclusive, University of Washington researchers reported they discovered microwave radiation similar to the kind used in cell phones causes long-term memory loss in rats. Pointing out the study "is yet another piece of the puzzle that tells us that we have a potential problem on our hands," Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News, advised, "Every millimeter you move the phone antenna away makes a big difference."

A kit designed to move cell phones at least an arm's length away from users to protect them from electromagnetic radiation actually exposes them to more radiation, according to an independent study. The kit features an earphone so users won't have to hold the cell phone next to their head, but New York internist Timothy McCall said the wire in the earpiece acts as an antenna to channel three times more radiation to the head.

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