NewsQuirks 592

Old Habits Die Hard

After being jailed four times for impersonating a doctor, Gerald Barnes, 67, was released from the federal prison at Taft, Calif., and given bus fare to the federal prison at Marion, Ill., where he was supposed to begin another sentence. Instead of reporting, he disappeared. Authorities located him a month later at a North Hollywood clinic, once again practicing medicine.

First Things First

Larry Wesley, 49, a 20-year ambulance driver in Houston was fired after being accused of stopping for doughnuts while taking a patient to the hospital.

Green Bay Packers fan John Tomasich and his wife quit their jobs and sold their house in Long Beach, Calif., to move to Brown County, Wis., so Tomasich could personally campaign for the proposed half-percent sales tax increase to pay for the renovation of the Packers' stadium, Lambeau Field.

Captain Hook

A 21-year-old man was found impaled through his left eyelid by a rusty hook screwed into the front door of his home in Wiltshire, England. Because the hook was 6 feet off the ground, the man was standing on his tiptoes with blood streaming from his eye. He had passed out when police arrived, but they were able to lift him off the hook and take him to the hospital. The man, who had been drinking, was released without damage to his sight but was unable to explain how he got into such a predicament.

Never Mind

Concerned because of recent bear sightings in Adams, Mass., Margaret Lowry called police to report a black bear sleeping in her garden. Officers tried to awaken the 4-foot-long bear with a blast of their siren, then with a special noisemaker. When the bear failed to stir, one of the officers approached it and poked it with a long prod. That's when they realized the bear was a giant toy, which they later learned had been put there as a joke by Lowry's son-in-law.

Workers of the World, Unite

When the Mondrian, an upscale Los Angeles-area hotel, fired nine, mostly minority bellmen and replaced them with "cool-looking" white workers, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission filed a suit on behalf of the dismissed workers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The hotel argued that it hadn't discriminated against the bellmen on the basis of race but rather because they did not fit the "cool, hip" image the refurbished establishment was trying to present.

A German court ruled that two retired brewery workers were entitled to receive 264 pints of free beer a year as part of their pension package. The men initiated the action after the brewery had promised workers and retirees 422 pints of free beer a year, then held back because of financial difficulty and a change of ownership. The compromise settlement of 264 pints also included back pay for three years worth of brew that the workers had missed while appealing to the highest labor court.

Uplifting Research

Researchers at Australia's University of Wollongong announced they have designed a brassiere that adjusts its straps and cups to match the wearer's movements. The scientists explained the bra is coated with an "intelligent" polymer that stiffens under strain, offering instant customized support.

Ove Arup, the company that designed London's Millennium Bridge, helped developed a bra which its manufacturer promises will provide revolutionary support. Charnos, maker of the Bioform, which uses plastic cups instead of a traditional underwire structure, credited Ove Arup with playing an important role in measuring "stress analysis" on bras, even though the company had come under criticism when the $29-million bridge over the Thames River had to be closed two days after its opening due to excessive wobble.

Cashing in on Nostalgia

Viliumas Malinauskas, a Lithuanian wrestler and mushroom farmer, announced plans to open a theme park in the village of Gruta that will re-create the prison camps of the former Soviet Union. Visitors will be transported to the park, called Stalin's World, in cattle trucks like those that carried 200,000 Lithuanians to Siberia. Actors will man guard towers. The complex will feature statues of Communist leaders and huts where prison laborers slept.

Claim Jumping

When the National Hockey League announced the name of its new expansion team would be the Minnesota Wild, the Canadian Wildlife Federation informed the league that "Wild" is also the name of the Ottawa-based charity's children's magazine. Fearing the loss of promotional rights to the "Wild" name would curtail souvenir sales in Canada, the NHL and the Minnesota club filed a challenge to the federation's right to the trademark in Federal Court. Declaring the legal action was an attempt to bully the federation, spokesperson Rita Mezzanotte said, "We don't have a lot of resources, but we don't just want to roll over and die."

A Moscow company called Intellekt took advantage of post-Soviet marketing mayhem by filing a patent application with the official patent agency Rospatent for bottles, which it described as conical containers with complex geometric properties. The patent was granted. Intellekt wrote to 11 Russian breweries, informing them that the use of bottles required royalties of 5 percent of gross revenues from bottled-beer sales. The claim is lawful, reported the International Herald Tribune, which noted Intellekt has also secured patents for nails and railway tracks.

Who's on Top?

Thomas Dwayne Wright, 20, a football player at Vermilion Community College in Ely, Minn., was charged with shooting his teammate in the head after the two argued in the on-campus apartment they shared. Witnesses said the dispute was over who got which bunk bed.

Crime Doesn't Pay, It Costs

Convicted murderer Norman Johnston, 50, escaped from the state prison at Huntingdon, Pa., and spent 18 days as a fugitive. After he was recaptured, the state billed him $441,592 to cover the cost of hunting him down. Among the expenses was police overtime and reward money.

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