NewsQuirks 611

Understatement of the Week

New York's Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn suspended Drs. Rene Kotzen and Mike W. Chou after accusing them of performing surgery on the wrong side of a patient's brain. Following a second operation the next day on the correct side, patient Kevin Walsh said, "Yeah, it's weird. I don't know much. They're still investigating. All I know is my head hurts."

Slightest Provocations

When Danial Bryant, 44, was served a fish sandwich with tartar sauce instead of the ketchup he asked for at a Whataburger restaurant in Tallahassee, Fla., he complained to Lonnie James Daniels, the restaurant worker who served him, wound up punching him in the nose and drove away. According to police Officer Sheri Tatum, Daniels lost his temper and took off after Bryant, ramming Bryant's van three times, then blocking its path. Tatum said she observed Daniels get out of his car with a machete raised over his head and shout at Bryant, "I'm going to kill you." The officer arrested both men.

After a fight broke out in the Turkish parliament, leaving one member dead, parliamentary administrative boss Ahmet Cakir blamed the outburst on the chairs in the legislative body. He insisted their red upholstery makes politicians more aggressive than normal. Cakir also told the Huerriyet newspaper that marble used inside the building makes politicians sleepy.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Boston therapist Ralph P. Engle, 68, who helped write the ethical standards for his profession, acknowledged having an inappropriate relationship with a female patient. The Boston Psychoanalytic Society said Engle surrendered his medical license after the admission to avoid possible disciplinary action from the state medical board.

Taming the Flame

Hoping to attract more women to serve in fire companies, the Scottish Fire Service Fairness and Diversity Forum recommended dropping the title "firefighter," which it labeled "too aggressive." It suggested replacing it with "firemaster."

Paternal Instinct

Acting on an anonymous tip, Brazilian police arrested Austrian tourist Johann Zillinger as he headed for the Rio de Janeiro airport and found 21 parrots, four parakeets and two snakes hidden in his luggage. A further search turned up five parakeet eggs tucked in his underwear, according to a police spokesperson, who explained, "He put them near his testicles so they would be at nest temperature."

Town Without Pity

Residents of Wilkie, Saskatchewan, started a petition to force former preacher Louis Harewood to leave town. They accuse him of brainwashing women and breaking up marriages, noting that middle-aged women are wandering the streets in a daze because of Harewood's influence. "Our biggest worry," resident Phyllis McDonald said, "is that if he can control 40-year-old women, what about our 16-year-old daughters?"

Prude Patrol

After being named Utah's first obscenity and pornography complaints ombudsman, Paula Houston, 40, admitted she is a virgin who has rarely seen an adult movie, even though her job calls for her to view hours of pornographic films, raunchy websites and explicit magazines. "I won't last long if I have to look at this stuff every single day for eight hours," she admitted. "If it's like that, then someone else can do the job."

India's Censor Board said it is paying private detectives $96,880 a year to visit 800 theaters in four cities and make sure theater owners aren't splicing censored scenes back into films or adding sex scenes from other films. "We don't have the wherewithal to keep a vigil on cinema halls and see if they are following the rules," a Censor Board official told the Indian Express newspaper. "The detective agency will do it for us. It will create a fear psychosis."

Butt Head

Maine state representative Joe Brooks introduced a bill that would add $1 to the cost of a pack of cigarettes. The money would be refunded to smokers who redeem their cigarette butts in batches of 20 to recycling and redemption centers, thereby reducing the number of butts littering the streets.

Biting the Hand That Feeds

Authorities in Baton Rouge, La., accused Michael Ezell, 26, of murdering his grandmother, Mary Bourgeois, 72, the day after she posted $15,000 bond to get him out of jail. This time he is being held without bail.

Opportunity for a Doughnut Maker

Berlin police announced the start of a pilot program to enlist sponsors, who would supplement the police force's budget in exchange for placing their advertising messages on patrol cars and technical equipment. "The ads cannot be too garish," Michael Kreckel, head of the Direktion 6 section of the force, explained, "and must, of course, not put the seriousness of our work in question."

Gobble While Jogging

Believing the human body contains the perfect ingredient to repair damaged joints, scientists are working on a way to turn fat into cartilage. By feeding fat cells the right diet and providing a gel matrix to grow in, researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., have coaxed them into becoming cartilage capable of being surgically implanted in joints. Explaining that the project used cells from people who had liposuction cosmetic surgery, Farshid Guilak, director of orthopedic research at Duke, noted, "There is no shortage, certainly, in the U.S. population of fat cells."

Passing of a Profession

Matild Manokyan, 84, who died Feb. 16, was not only Turkey's best-known madam, but also Istanbul's top taxpayer for five years in a row in the early 1990s. According to her obituary in the Washington Post, Manokyan used profits from her 32 brothels to finance a real-estate empire that included dozens of shopping malls and apartment buildings. The government of Turkey, where prostitution is legal, honored her for her taxpaying record at official ceremonies.

In Thailand, meanwhile, prostitution is suffering as a result of the Asian financial crisis of the mid-1990s and because more people are having casual and pre-marital sex. According to a government survey of 10,000 prostitutes, sex workers in the country now average just one customer a night compared to three six years ago. The government report shows only 10 percent of northern Thai men in their 20s now admitted to frequenting brothels, compared to 55 percent in 1995.

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