NewsQuirks 639

Curses, Foiled Again

District of Columbia police arrested two teen-agers after they brought a stolen rental car to an auto repair shop at the same time the rental company's manager arrived in another car that needed work. "He jumped out and said, 'Hey, that's my car,'" said Billy Melby, the repair shop's owner. An off-duty police officer who also happened to be at the shop called for help.

What the World Needs Now

To curb growing unemployment in Saudi Arabia since the collapse of oil prices in 1998, the government is encouraging Saudis to take up jobs as taxi drivers. Saudi bankers said that $53 million has been allocated to provide soft loans to buy the vehicles in hopes of eventually creating up to 30,000 jobs.

Hundreds of entrepreneurs have taken up butterfly ranching to supply butterflies for weddings. The Washington Times reported the insects, primarily monarchs and swallowtails, are packed in decorative boxes for a mass release or come one to an envelope for individual guests to release instead of throwing rice or bird seed. They are shipped overnight in an iced container. One of the companies, Blessed Wings in Texas, which charges $95 a dozen for monarchs, advises brides planning their wedding to designate a "butterfly-release coordinator."

Why They Call It Dope

Emmit Scott, 60, called the Halifax County, N.C., sheriff's office to report that a man assaulted him while stealing his marijuana plants. Sheriff's Deputy J.M. Clark said deputies who responded found Scott's garden contained "the biggest marijuana bust we've had this year." He added Scott explained he "didn't know it was illegal to grow it in your own garden."

Albuquerque police were summoned to the house of Keith Jason Klein in the middle of the night by neighbors who reported an explosion. Klein told the officers the source was a homemade pneumatic air cannon, explaining he poured alcohol down the barrel and used compressed air to propel it forward until it encountered a flame and produced a "flame ball." When the officers told Klein they had to search the house to make sure no one had been hurt, they entered and found a sophisticated marijuana-growing operation and 30 plants. "If you're going to do this, it's not a good idea to shoot cannons," police narcotics Detective Jeannette Tate said after arresting Klein. "You want to alleviate any unwanted attention."

Keep It to Yourself

Nicholas Kelleher, an inmate at Britain's maximum-security Swaleside Prison on the Isle of Sheppey, figured out how to escape by connecting foil food trays to the electrical outlet in his cell, then adding brown sauce from the dining hall. The combination of electricity and the acid in the sauce burned the metal bars of his cell. He had cut through one bar and had two more to go when he shared his plan with a fellow prisoner, who promptly informed authorities.

Opportunity Knocks

Colorado Springs physicist John Jackson announced he is looking for a 5-foot-10, 175-pound male volunteer who is willing to be crucified. Although the successful applicant won't have to have nails pounded into his palms, he will be hung on a cross as part of Jackson's continuing experiments to determine the authenticity of the shroud of Turin. Jackson, a former Air Force Academy and University of Colorado professor, is one of 38 scientists from around the world permitted to examine the shroud in 1978. He and his wife operate the Turin Shroud Center, charging visitors $10 to watch an audiovisual presentation of Jackson's research.

The Incidental Tourist

Hillebrend Call, 82, traveled from Australia to Norway to visit the North Cape plateau, then refused to enter when he learned there was a $25 admission charge. The plateau, Norway's second most northerly point, is fenced off by a tourist center run by the Rica Hotel chain. "Everywhere else in the world, the scenery is supposed to be free," Call told the newspaper Finnmark Dagblad. "What if we started charging tourists in Australia to look at our beautiful beaches?"

Bill Dorsey of Clarksburg, W.Va., took a trip around the world but had no time to see any sights except from his seat because he made the tour in 61 hours and 23 minutes. Leaving from Pittsburgh International Airport, Dorsey changed planes in six cities to travel some 25,000 miles. "I just wanted to go around the world one time," he said on his return.

Entertaining Contraception

India's government announced it would lower the price of television sets to encourage people to watch them instead of having sex, thereby curbing the country's population growth. "Entertainment is an important component of the population policy," Health Minister C.P. Thakur told parliament. "We want people to watch television."

Strange Bedfellows

Conservative Republicans have three times as many nightmares as liberal Democrats, according to a study by a dream researcher from Berkeley, Calif. Kelly Bulkeley, who teaches at the Graduate Theological Union, analyzed four years' worth of dreams from 56 college students, defending the small sample by noting "the people involved are highly committed ideologically." In general, he told the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams in Santa Cruz, Calif., Republicans were much more likely to have lifelike dreams that resembled their daily lives, whereas the Democrats often had bizarre dreams with unfamiliar characters and settings and events that a re improbable or impossible.

Animal Lovers

Sheriff's deputies in Dunn County, Wis., accused Gary W. Otto, 47, of having sexual contact with cattle for the second time in two years. He was caught because suspicious farm owners had placed a motion detector in the milk house to record any movement after 12:30 a.m. and activate an alarm.

Authorities in Westmoreland County, Va., charged Sherwin Balderson, 80, with having sex with at least three cows in a pasture after he was filmed going from cow to cow wearing only a T-shirt, tennis shoes and sunglasses. Lt. Bill England of the Westmoreland Sheriff's Office said county detective Merile Jones filmed Balderson after receiving complaints.

Police in Valparaiso, Ind., arrested Michael Bessigano, 30, after he admitted renting a motel room and having sex with a chicken. He explained he stole the chicken from a chicken farm, then took it to the motel and plucked its feathers so he could have sex with it.

Litigation Nation

While serving time in a Michigan prison for armed robbery, Chad Gabriel DeKoven filed a lawsuit asking for fulltime personal attendants, thousands of trees and animals and precious metals. He also demanded a full pardon, public acknowledgment that he is the king of the Jews, peace in the Middle East and the return home of all U.S. military personnel within 90 days. The suit was dismissed.

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

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