NewsQuirks 673

Curses, Foiled Again

Susan Aeschliman-Hill, 59, of Kent, Wash., admitted using a department store mannequin dressed in women's clothing so she could drive illegally in the car pool lane on Interstate 405, which requires cars to have at least one passenger. Her ruse was uncovered after the woman caused an accident involving two tour buses and five other cars.

Honest Mistakes

Sheriff's deputies in Arapahoe County, Colo., placed a 16-year-old girl awaiting a court appearance in a jail cell with a 34-year-old man charged with sexual assault. Undersheriff Grayson Robinson called the incident an "unfortunate error," explaining that the deputies thought the cell was empty because suspect Gerald DeWayne Lewis had crawled under a bed. The girl accused Lewis of fondling her before jail officials noticed the mistake.

Gov. Lincoln Almond of Rhode Island issued a proclamation declaring April "Confederate History and Heritage Month." A spokesperson for the governor explained that the proclamation was "processed in error" in response to a request from a southerner.

A street vendor who answered 16 straight questions on Thailand's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and won 1 million baht ($23,100) was denied the money when producers realized that a computer had shown her the answers, which were intended for display on the host's computer. On a replay -- the version that was televised -- she answered six questions, winning 25,000 baht ($577.50).

Irony Illustrated

Susie Stephens, 36, regarded as the world's leading expert on road safety, was attending a conference in St. Louis on how to cut road deaths when she left her hotel to get some photocopies, dashed across a street and was killed when a tour bus struck her.

Hot Heads

When a fire broke out at the 31st Girls Middle School in Mecca, the 800 pupils inside found their escape hindered because the school was locked to keep males from entering the all-girl school. In addition, 15 of the girls died in the smoke-filled building when Saudi Arabia's religious police -- the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice -- blocked rescue attempts by male firefighters and paramedics because the girls were not wearing the long robes (abayas) and head coverings required in public. One witness told the newspaper al-Eqtisadiah that he saw three of the religious police "beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya."

Men Behaving Sadly

Scientists have identified a new condition called irritable male syndrome. Caused by a lack of testosterone, it leaves men bad-tempered, emotional and depressed, according to Gerald Lincoln of the Medical Research Council's Human Reproductive Sciences Unit in Edinburgh."It has an amusing side because we realize the frailties of men and how hormones do affect their behavior," he said. "But there is a serious side in that men's behavior can be compromised by their hormone state."

Can't Help Myself

Police in Nagoya, Japan, arrested Masami Matano, 69, for making hundreds of silent phone calls to a 73-year-old woman who spurned his advances. "I couldn't stop," Matano told police. "I was desperately in love."

Gotta Kill Something

Authorities in Gainesville, Fla., said that Donald Ray Bussey Jr., 20, became frustrated after he failed to bag a deer while hunting last fall, so he killed a horse with a bow and arrow and wounded another horse and a dog with a shotgun.

Biological Penalty

Marilyn Churley, a member of the Ontario parliament, called on the Canadian government to eliminate the sales tax on feminine hygiene products. Pointing out that women buying tampons, sanitary pads, menstrual sponges and cups pay $60 million in taxes each year, Churley declared, "Government has no business taxing women for being women."

Land of the Setting Sun

Japanese electronics maker Matsushita Industrial Co. showed reporters a test model of a cordless vacuuming robot that it hopes to put on the market in two or three years for $4,000. During the demonstration, the machine crashed into chair legs and failed to clean the corners of the room.

Brand USA

Dismissing criticism surrounding the appointment of advertising executive Charlotte Beers to help bolster America's image abroad, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell declared, "She got me to buy Uncle Ben's rice. So there is nothing wrong with getting somebody who knows how to sell something. We are selling a product. We need someone who can re-brand American foreign policy, re-brand diplomacy."

This Spud's for You

Last year, the city of Pawtucket, R.I., sent its sister city in England, Belper, a 7-foot fiberglass statue of Mr. Potato Head as a goodwill gesture. Pawtucket is the headquarters for Hasbro Inc., the toy's manufacturer. The statue was placed in the center of Belper but was moved when residents complained it was an eyesore that had no place among the town's historic buildings. The giant toy was relocated to a children's playground, then a Wild West theme park. Next, it was moved outside a school in nearby Heanor, where a group of children attacked it, ripping off one of its arms and breaking its hat. After being repaired, Mr. Potato Head was placed in front of a supermarket, where, employee Julie Arkwright said, "He causes quite a commotion."

Your Move

During an argument between two handicapped men over which one was entitled to a parking space at a hospital in Spring Hill, Fla., police said Lee Damron, 48, unsheathed a sword from his cane and approached Richard Cavalier, 59. Cavalier, who uses a wheelchair, responded to the threat by producing a 9mm handgun. Damron turned and ran through the hospital's sliding doors.

An O. Henry Story in the Making

Hundreds of impoverished Argentines have turned to selling their hair to a wig company to survive the country's economic crisis. The G.A. Peluca factory in Rosario began paying $11 for 5 ounces of hair after the peso plunged and it could no longer afford to buy synthetic-hair wigs from Russia.

Extracurricular Activity

Police in Rankin County, Miss., said Christopher Williamson, 15, sneaked off from school, robbed a bank and returned in time for lunch. They arrested Williamson in the school cafeteria at Northwest Rankin High after finding a book bag belonging to him filled with money and clothes matching the description of those the robber was wearing.

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

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