NewsQuirks 643

When Guns Are Outlawed

Thomas Rokosky, 26, was charged with trying to rob a store in Harrison Township, Pa., by using a can of ravioli to intimidate a clerk. Township police Chief Mike Klein said Rokosky showed the clerk he had something wrapped in his shirt, then demanded money but walked out empty-handed because the clerk saw the can.

Mensa Rejects of the Week

Two women and one man were killed just outside Tbilisi, Georgia, while trying to cut up tank and artillery shells in order to sell the pieces as scrap metal, according to a Security Ministry official, who explained that the heat from the cutting caused one of the shells to explode. Georgian television showed pictures of the burned-out apartment the victims were using, with more than a dozen shells still lined up against the wall.

Cutting Back

Turkey's economic crisis has caused many families to delay having their sons circumcised, resulting in the lowest total at Istanbul's Circumcision Palace in its 25-year history. Kemal Ozkan, whom Turkish media have dubbed the "King of Circumcisions" for the 106,222 procedures he has performed -- including some on horseback, on camels and during flights -- charges $450 charge for the procedure and party. The celebrations start with a clown dancing and joking with the boys about their favorite soccer clubs. The surgery, which takes place on a velvet chair in the middle of the ballroom, is filmed and broadcast on a movie screen by the dais. After the operations, the boys dance with their mothers before being rushed off to a side room to be stitched. This year, Ozkan said he anticipates performing only half of the 3,000 circumcisions he did last year, explaining, "Rich people are afraid of showing off during the economic crisis."

Follow the Paper Trail

Jesse Reynolds was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison for failing to deliver all the mail on his Mississippi route for about 18 months. Prosecutors said Reynolds kept nearly 4,300 pieces of mail at his home because he wanted to speed up his delivery time and impress his supervisors. Reynolds admitted he also dropped mail into collection boxes so other postal workers would deliver it.

Security workers at Pittsburgh's Mellon Bank discovered boxes in the basement filled with tax returns and payment checks, which contract workers processing the documents for the Internal Revenue Service apparently dumped when they fell behind schedule. "Whatever forms the guilty parties could remove from the staging areas with ease were taken, hidden, and some destroyed," the IRS said in a report to the Senate Finance Committee in September. The Washington Post reported the IRS, which first missed the documents in May and alerted branch offices, concluded that the case involved as many as 40,000 returns and $810 million in missing deposits.

Define Normal

Eduardo Velez Alejos, 36, of Peru chopped off his penis a little more than a year ago to protest not having a job. His penis was successfully reattached, and he eventually found work as a laborer. This summer he appeared outside parliament and sliced off his left testicle because the pay was too low. "I'm doing all this to protest my lousy situation," he told doctors at Lima's Dos de Mayo hospital. Hospital spokesperson Carlos Viera said that even though doctors failed to reattach the testicle, Velez could still enjoy "a normal sex life."

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

Kansas state Sen. Kay O'Connor told the Johnson County League of Women Voters that she does not see any reason to celebrate the enactment of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, because it is a sign that American society does not value the family enough. "The 19th Amendment is around because men weren't doing their jobs, and that's sad," she said. "I believe the man should be the head of the family. The woman should be the heart of the family." After hearing of O'Connor's remarks, state Rep. Bill Reardon said, "I admire her for the courage of her convictions. I just can't imagine anyone in 2001 having those convictions."

Malaysian Senator Jamilah Ibrahim proposed that women be permitted to work only during the day so they can perform their conjugal duties at night. He insisted that men would commit incest with daughters if wives were not at home at night to attend to their husband's sexual urges.

Cliche Comes to Life

Australian attorney John Keogh has reinvented the wheel. He explained he took out the patent on the device to expose flaws in the government's new patent system, which no longer requires patent attorneys because of complaints that they were too expensive. As a result, he said, it is possible to patent anything because all the patent office is doing "is putting a rubber stamp on it."

Rescue Me

Firefighters rescued a 34-year-old man who spent the night trapped in an 18-inch-wide grease duct over a restaurant in Washington, D.C. The man, who was hospitalized in critical condition and charged with burglary, apparently climbed into the duct on the roof intending to lower himself into the restaurant, according to fire department spokesperson Alan Etter, who noted, "He likely was stuck in there for hours, upside down."

Shirley Stocksdale, 75, died after being trapped in her home in Cape Coral, Fla., for up to three days after her arm became stuck in a sleeper sofa. Investigators believe Stocksdale was trying to lift the bed portion out of the couch, possibly to retrieve the television remote control.

Kevin Funchess, 41, spent three days wedged in a storm sewer drain in Houston after he fell into an open manhole while walking from his home for some fried chicken. No one heard his shouts for help, and he was unable to reach his cell phone because it was stuck beneath him in his backpack. He was rescued when he finally was able to move enough to reach the phone and call 911.

Social Security

Caregivers in Copenhagen reported that pornography and prostitutes have a greater calming effect on their elderly patients than traditional medical treatment such as drug therapy. Porn is also healthier, cheaper and easier to use than medicine. Maj-Britt Auning, a department head at the 115-resident Thorupgaarden nursing home in the Danish capital, explained that pornography has been broadcast on the building's internal videochannel every Saturday night for several years. And if videos and erotic magazines don't relieve the tension, she added, residents could ask the staff to order a prostitute for them.

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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