NewsQuirks 698

Curses, Foiled Again

Sheriff's deputies in Columbia County, Ga., charged Michael Steven Pavlich, 48, with trying to rob a convenience store while wearing a plastic foam cooler over his head to cover his face. The clerk said she heard the man say something but couldn't make out the words because of the cooler. A witness said it sounded like the robber said, "Everybody get your hands up," but when he saw the man was armed with only a pellet gun, he grabbed it away from him and pushed him out of the store.

New Mexico authorities arrested four men who spent the past year pulling over people for speeding in the Santa Teresa area near the Texas border, then letting them go with verbal warnings. The men were caught after they called police for backup and identified themselves as members of a federally funded search-and-rescue squad. Prosecutor Susana Martinez said officials have been unable to determine the men's motive.

The Future Is Looking Up

Researchers at Harvard Medical School announced that they have succeeded in growing penis parts in the laboratory. The parts were successfully used to rebuild the penises of rabbits, which were able to use them to mate. The next step, head researcher Anthony Atala told New Scientist magazine, is to recreate the entire organ from scratch. Ultimately, Atala said, the technique could be used to reconstruct the penises of men who have suffered injuries and those of children born with genital abnormalities, as well as provide an alternative to crude methods currently used to enlarge the organ.

Weighty Matters

Virgin Atlantic airlines paid passenger Barbara Hewson $20,289 as compensation for being squashed by an obese person on a transatlantic flight. Hewson, who is from Swansea, Wales, suffered a blood clot in her chest, torn leg muscles and acute sciatica. The obese passenger had been able to fit in her seat only by raising the armrest, meaning that her body parts weighed down on Hewson for the entire 11-hour flight in economy class. When Hewson first complained about her ordeal, the airline offered her "a small basket of goods" worth about $25.

Many obese adults may have trouble losing weight by sticking to diet or exercise plans because they suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Research by behavioral psychiatrist Jules Altfas of the Behavioral Medical Center for Treatment and Research in Portland, Ore., found that 27.4 percent of the obese adults he studied had ADHD, compared with only 4.7 percent of the general U.S. population. What's more, when Altfas put a group of the most obese people on a weight-loss plan, those with ADHD lost only half as much weight as the others. "The ADHD sufferers couldn't remember their diet plans," Altfas explained. "They were disorganized and ate compulsively."

Weightless Matters

American astronaut Peggy Whitson looked forward to spending months in space as the science officer aboard the International Space Station by planning more than 40 shrimp meals. Whitson reported on her 130th day in space that she ended up giving most of the meals to her Russian crewmates, Valery Korzun and Sergei Treshcvev. "Sometimes, when you come to space, your tastes change," she said. "One of my favorite foods on the ground is shrimp, and up here I can't stand it."

Second-Amendment Follies

Michael Murray, 42, was shot by his year-old English setter while hunting pheasant near Brooklyn Park, Minn., after placing his loaded 12-guage shotgun on the ground. "He stepped on the gun, and it went off," Murray said. "At first I didn't know what happened. I got that blinding flash of pain, and I sat down."

Robert E. Slay Sr., 55, accidentally shot himself in the leg while trying on pants at an outlet store in Gonzales, La. Slay was removing his pants to try on a pair of slacks when a .38-caliber derringer fell out of his hip pocket and discharged. After being treated at the hospital, Slay was booked for illegally carrying a weapon and illegally discharging a firearm.

Randall Lewis, 40, of Jefferson County, Mo., was teaching his 12-year-old son about gun safety when he shot himself in the head with a .22-caliber revolver. "He was demonstrating how to make sure the gun was unloaded -- kind of how not to -- and the gun was loaded," Maj. Mark Tulgetske of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department said, explaining that the gun fired when Lewis pointed the loaded weapon at the right side of his head and pulled the trigger.

When a woman in Lake City, Fla., who heard something outside her home, reached across her toilet to open the bathroom window for a look, she knocked her 9 mm handgun into the commode. It discharged on impact, wounding her in her left buttock.

A 2-year-old boy in New Orleans was critically injured after his 24-year-old aunt shot him, apparently accidentally, while arguing with his 21-year-old mother over how to discipline children. The aunt "left the room briefly and returned with the handgun," police Sgt. Paul Accardo said. "She fired one time and struck the child in the head."

A robber, brandishing a semiautomatic handgun, entered a bank in North Miami Beach, Fla., and told a teller to fill a bag with cash. He grabbed the bag and was putting his gun into his pocket when it accidentally fired. The shot startled the gunman, who ran out the front door and straight into the path of an oncoming van. The driver, unaware that the man had just robbed the bank, pulled him from underneath the van. Still shaken, the robber limped to his getaway car and fled with the cash. "He was pretty banged up," FBI representative Judy Orihuela said, noting the collision knocked out two of the robber's teeth. "There was blood everywhere."

Price of Chatter

The latest environmental menace is discarded cellphones, according to a study financed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Phones typically are used for 18 months before being replaced by a newer model. By 2005, the report said, 130 million cellphones will be thrown away each year. Counting the phones, batteries and chargers, that amounts to 65,000 tons of waste a year, much of it toxic. "These chemicals accumulate and persist in the environment," said Eric Most of Inform, the environmental group that conducted the study on old phones. "They get in the plants, soil, water, and then move up the stream to humans."
Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.