NewsQuirks 679

Curses, Foiled Again

Several Australian teen-agers presented authentic-looking drivers licenses at a pub in Toowoomba, Queensland, but the pub's bouncers had little trouble spotting them as forgeries. Their identification photos showed them wearing their high-school uniforms, signaling their underage status.

Aerial Oops

Dan L. Legrant, 66, of Edmond, Okla., was flying into Eagle Creek Airport in Indianapolis and told air traffic controllers that he had the runway in sight. When he landed his single-engine plane, however, he discovered he was on a drag strip at Indianapolis Raceway Park, which is five miles from the airport. Some 50 drivers had been testing their vehicles on the track, but safety officials closed the drag strip because of rain about 15 minutes before Legrant touched down. "If he had landed when the dragsters were running, we could have had a disaster," Indiana State Police Sgt. Sam Maldonado said. "God must have been looking out for him."

Roger Wallace, 60, of Tucson, Ariz., wasn't so fortunate, even though the plane he was flying was radio-controlled and he was safely on the ground. The 6 1/2-pound plane crashed into his chest and killed him. "This was just the freakiest of freak accidents that could possibly happen," said Jerry Knebel, president of the Southern Arizona Modelers, a radio-controlled airplane group that Wallace joined three years before while he was drag-racing cars at a drag strip. Noting that Wallace spotted the airplane enthusiasts and asked if he could join them, Knebel said, "He talked so often about how flying was safer than the drag strip. He came over because he thought our sport was the safer sport."

Mensa Rejects of the Week

Richard Goddard Jr. and David Winkleman sued Davenport, Iowa, radio station KORB after they had the station's logo permanently tattooed across their foreheads expecting to receive $150,000, only to learn that the offer by disc jockey Benjamin Stomberg was a joke. After Stomberg made the offer on the air, the two men said they called the station, were told it was legitimate and went to a tattoo parlor. A station representative met the men, paid for their tattoos, photographed the tattoos and posted them on its website. Not only did the station renege, the lawsuit claims, but also after the two men had their heads tattooed, Winkleman was fired from his job, and both men were unable to get jobs. "Stomberg made the false promise as a practical joke," the lawsuit states, "so that persons who responded to the announcement with the intention of receiving tattoos could be publicly scorned and ridiculed for their greed and lack of common good sense."

All in the Family

Kenneth Shoemaker of Blaine, Minn., told police his 17-year-old son Travis might have poisoned him because (a) his morning coffee tasted strange and (b) he found a note Travis wrote his girlfriend saying that he hated his father and wanted to kill him and his stepmother. After police arrested Travis at school that day, he admitted lacing his dad's coffee with paint thinner. He also confessed to setting his family's house on fire last year, telling investigators he did it because he wanted "a new computer and stuff like that."

Donna Anderson of Shoreview, Minn., admitted boarding a plane to California, buying a kitchen knife, visiting her ex-husband at his parents' home in Burlingame and killing her 13-year-old son. "I stabbed him, I'm glad I did it. I hope he's dead," Anderson told police. She explained to the San Francisco Chronicle that she killed the boy to save him from child pornographers.

Talk the Talk

Japanese cell-phone maker NTT DoCoMo said its researchers are developing a lip-reading phone. While users mouth their words silently, a contact sensor near the phone's mouthpiece detects tiny electrical signals sent by muscles around the user's mouth, then converts the signals to speech or text. The company said its impetus for developing the phone is to rid public places of noise caused by rude users shouting into handsets.

China has banned its soldiers from using wireless phones and pagers. The official Xinhua news agency said the regulation is an attempt to safeguard military secrets.

Bursts of microwave energy from the sun can disrupt wireless cell communications, especially near sunrise and sunset, according to researchers at Lucent Technologies. Writing in the journal Radio Science, the scientists said solar radio bursts strong enough to disrupt a cell-phone call could occur between 10 and 20 days a year.

British engineers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau said they have developed a tooth phone. The device, which consists of a tiny vibrator and a radio wave receiver, can be implanted into a tooth during routine dental surgery. Sound is received as a digital radio signal and transferred to the inner ear by bone resonance.

Postmortem Depression

The discovery of bodies discarded near a Georgia crematory in February led to several subsequent revelations. Officials in Hawaii announced they were looking into reports that Memorial Mortuary in Hilo buried corpses in body bags after customers paid for caskets. Meanwhile, authorities in Riverside County, Calif., accused funeral home owner Michael Francis Brown, 42, of dissecting corpses and selling the body parts to medical researchers at universities and pharmaceutical companies without the permission of family members, who believed their loved ones' remains had been cremated. Deputy district attorney Karen Gorham said Brown received about $400,000 in one year for the body parts taken from the remains of at least 81 people.

Perpetrator's Rights

Joseph Richard Warner, 40, who is accused of hiding a video camera in the ladies room at a restaurant in Bellevue, Wash., asked a judge to order news crews not to photograph him when he appeared in court to be arraigned.

Perpetual Responsibility Italy's highest appeals court ruled that fathers must continue supporting adult children until they find a job that fits their aspirations.


British authorities charged Peter Tucker, 49, with attacking the manager of a youth soccer team in Southwick. Prosecutor Guy Russell told the Hove Crown Court that Tucker "behaved oddly" during the first half of the match, verbally abused some of the young players and kneed a parent in the groin during a sideline brawl. After the match, Tucker followed Simon Kay, manager of the Hove Park Colts, into a parking lot, wrestled him to the ground and bit his ear.

An off-duty Secret Service agent in San Diego who was assigned to protect Vice President Dick Cheney bit off part of a man's ear during a brawl outside a bar. The fight began, according to a 24-year-old woman at the Daley Double Bar, after three agents made "rude comments" to her, and locals at the bar objected. "There was a lot of alcohol and testosterone flying," said Sgt. Rob Morse of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Jose Luiz Gomez-Martinez and Pedro Rivera-Flores were at a bar in Roanoke, Va., when the two friends began fighting. Rivera-Flores appeared to be winning, according to prosecutor John McNeil, when Gomez-Martinez bit off the top of his right ear. He also bit Rivera-Flores's left forearm. After Gomez-Martinez pleaded guilty to assault and battery, McNeil reported, "There is no bad blood between them. They are not friends, but they are talking again."

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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