NewsQuirks 677

Curses, Foiled Again

London police, who arrested Junior Adeoye, 19, for helping rob a liquor store, said he took out his wallet to pay for a can of beer in a ploy to get the clerk to open the cash register. After three other robbers ransacked the store, escaping with cash, phone cards and liquor, they fled, but Adeoye left his wallet on the counter. He also dropped his cell phone, which had his number in the memory, and left his fingerprints on the beer can. When detectives confronted Adeoye with the evidence the next day, he confessed.

A Day to Forget

Sean McNulty, 30, was leaving on his honeymoon to Italy when he realized that he forgot his wallet. He left his bride at the terminal at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport and returned to the parking lot to look for it in his car. According to police, he bumped his head, suffered amnesia and disappeared. He was found three days later outside an abandoned hotel near the airport, but couldn't remember his name or where he had been and didn't recognize his wife from her picture. He was transferred to a hospital in the newlyweds' home of Austin, where police said his bride is trying to revive memories of his life and help him remember the names of his new in-laws.

Rescue Me

A woman in Montebello, Colo., phoned for help when tumbleweeds piled up 16 feet high against the door to her home. "She couldn't get out because of the tumbleweeds. She just felt a little overwhelmed and needed some help," Lt. Angela Cook of the Denver Fire Department said, explaining that four firefighters took 30 minutes to clear a 25-foot path through the tumbleweeds, mostly about 3 feet in diameter, which filled the yard. "We probably moved 200 tumbleweeds, and there were thousands there. We barely made a dent."

Landlord from Hell

Detectives from the Ulster County, N.Y., Sheriff's Office reported that James F. King Jr., 26, forced a 64-year-old woman tenant whom he accused of stealing three cigarettes to drink motor oil and smoke three cigarettes soaked in a concoction of motor oil, chain saw bar oil and tobacco. "I was just trying to teach her a lesson to keep her from stealing," King insisted. "It's not as though I would have given her kerosene."

Sinister Snacks

An Egyptian company introduced cheese-flavored corn puffs honoring Yasser Arafat. Named Abu Ammar chips, for the Palestinian leader's nom de guerre, the snack features a cartoon of Arafat saluting consumers and urging them to buy the 5-cent bag to support a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. "The more you buy, the more you build," the bags declare. "Heartbeat by heartbeat, hand by hand, we'll build a new era."

Meredith Berkman, 37, filed a $50 million lawsuit in New York City against the makers of Pirate's Booty corn and rice puffs after learning that the snack contained 147 calories and 8.5 grams of fat, instead of the 120 calories and 2.5 grams of fat stated on the label. Berkman charged Robert's American Gourmet Food Inc. of Roslyn, N.Y. with sabotaging her diet and causing "weight gain ... mental anguish, outrage and indignation."

Beginner's Luck

Police investigating an automobile accident in Newark, Calif., said that Sergio Bayangos, 31, who recently received his learner's permit, was preparing to drive his family's Honda for the first time. His wife, Virgie Bayangos, 30, who is a licensed driver, was standing near the open passenger door when her husband started the car, which traveled backwards and knocked her to the ground. The car continued rolling until it hit a 10-foot-high cinderblock sound wall, causing it to switch into drive. It rolled forward and ran over Virgie Bayangos, who was hospitalized with head trauma and a broken arm, pelvis and ribs.

France's Transport Ministry has begun waiting 24 hours to notify people of their driving test results because too many candidates were attacking examiners who fail them on the spot. Some learning drivers threatened examiners with death or rape, according to Jean-Francois Verdier, transport ministry official in charge of driving tests, who noted, "Threats at gunpoint are not rare." Verdier added that candidates, some of whom had failed their test for the 10th time, often rounded up friends to attack examiners and their cars.

Waste Not, Want Not

A British developer is converting an abandoned public toilet in London into a two-story apartment. The Edwardian-era facility is just 13 feet square, but real-estate agents believe it will sell for at least $200,000. "I don't think the fact that it was a loo will put people off," said a representative of the real estate firm Acorns in Lewisham. "It is very convenient as it is opposite Forest Hill station. It has its own front door, it is split level, and you have no one above or below you, which is unusual for a flat."

In an effort to discourage late-night male revelers from urinating against walls and doorways, the Westminister City Council voted to install pop-up toilets in central London. The self-cleaning telescopic urinals will be raised and lowered by remote control. "By moving them underground," a council representative said, "it means they are not an obstacle in the day."

City repair crews in St. Louis, Mo., are using 170 rolls of toilet paper a day to help repair cracks in streets. It's used to keep sealant in place until it dries. City officials said toilet paper has several advantages over the previous materials: sand and leaf mulch. It's cheaper, doesn't clog up the sewers, and it doesn't stink like mulch.

Llama dung is being used to reduce water pollution in Bolivia. Paul Younger, professor of hydrogeochemical engineering at Britain's Newcastle University, developed the idea of using a compost bed of limestone and dung to help absorb the high levels of acid found in polluted waters seeping from abandoned tin and silver mines. Besides absorbing acid, bacteria living in the dung turn the acidic water into alkaline water.

When Kevin Millar, an outfielder for the Florida Marlins, reported for spring training, he said that he had heard about using deer urine to help attract game, so during an off-season hunting trip he decided to try it. Instead of dabbing a little on his shoes, however, he told the Miami Herald, " I was putting it on like it was Calvin Klein cologne."

Following the death of a 37-year-old female inmate at a Saskatchewan jail from a drug overdose, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix reported that drug-addicted women inside the facility were drinking each other's vomit to get high off methadone administered inside the jail. The paper quoted sources as saying that inmates have been forcing other inmates in the methadone program to throw up their daily dose of the narcotic, then either selling the liquid or drinking it themselves.

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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