News Quirks 02.23.05
Curses, Foiled Again Police in Dover, New Hampshire, accused Steven Coleman, 37, of throwing two Molotov cocktails at his ex-girlfriend's apartment building. The homemade bombs (two glass Budweiser bottles filled with gasoline and plugged with rags) failed to burst into flames, and officers arrested Coleman as he made his getaway on a riding lawn mower.
Homeland Insecurity Of 176 foreigners identified as having used a stolen passport to try to enter the United States from 1998 to 2003, 136 were admitted, according to a report by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General. The 40-page report concluded that foreigners entering the United States using stolen passports have "little reason to fear being caught," even when their fraudulent documents have been posted on the government's computerized "lookout" lists. Of 78 aliens who had lookouts posted for their passports, for example, 57 gained entry, 33 of them after Sept. 11, 2001.
Compulsive Behavior After Tammy Lynn Price, 28, appeared before Associate Circuit Judge Thomas Ray on a drug charge in Farmington, Missouri, authorities accused her of stealing the judge's gavel. Ray told investigators that he was also missing pens, a calculator and an executive calendar. Price denied any involvement in the thefts, but a friend of hers told police that Price not only took the missing items, but also helped herself to courtroom cleaning supplies.
Coalition of Deadbeats At the urging of New York lawmakers, Congress included a measure in the just-approved $388 billion spending bill that would cut foreign aid to countries equal to the amount that their diplomats owe in parking tickets and penalties, plus 10 percent. According to Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), New York City alone stands to recover about $195 million from some 200 countries.
Mensa Reject of the Week Authorities in Pasco County, Florida, said that Henry Laskin was wearing an oxygen tank when he tried to light a cigarette on his stove. The tank exploded. "I saw a flash of light, and I just jumped up and went in the kitchen," Laskin's friend, Richard Creech, said after Laskin was taken to the hospital. "I saw my friend, and his beard was on fire and his air hose was on fire. I put it out."
Moral-Values Follies YMCA officials in Chicago fired Greg Weider, acting director of the New City YMCA, after they said that he rented out the entire facility for an overnight transgender fashion show and ball. Participants clashed with families arriving early the next morning for a swim meet with their children. "They have no idea what transgender is," Yeun Pearrelli said of his children, ages 5 and 9, "and I wouldn't want that exposure forced on them."
-- The Republican Party is as well connected to pornography as it is to moral values. "Corporate leaders at companies as diverse as News Corp., Marriott International and Time Warner can profit by selling red-state consumers the very material that red-state culture is supposed to despise," The Washington Post's Terry Neal reported. "Those elites then funnel the proceeds to the GOP, which in turn has used the money to successfully convince red-state voters that the other political party is solely responsible for the decline of the civilization." AT&T, for example, offers a hardcore sex channel [Hot Network] and owns a company that offers sex videos to a million hotel rooms in America. One in five of AT&T's customers pay $10 a film to see "real, live all-American sex -- not simulated by actors." AT&T is one of the largest donors to the Republican Party.
Happy Endings A United Parcel Service driver was making deliveries in Keene, New Hampshire, after a snowstorm when an accident with two tractor-trailers sent him to Cheshire Medical Center with a head injury. The hospital wasn't able to conduct a necessary cranial scan because its machine was broken. Before transferring the driver to another facility, authorities learned that the parts needed to fix the scanner were on the UPS truck that had been in the accident. The Keene Sentinel reported that Cheshire Medical Center sent someone to the truck to get the parts, which were installed, and the test was completed.
Posthumous Piling On Adolf Hitler was a tax dodger, who owed the Germany government 405,000 Reichmarks, equivalent to $8 million today, according to researcher Klaus-Dieter Dubon. After finding Hitler's tax records in a Munich archive, Dubon said that they show the Nazi dictator battled tax collectors before becoming chancellor in 1933. "He was constantly challenging the tax office rulings on his income tax between 1925 and 1932, just like a common citizen," Dubon said. "After taking power, he didn't pay tax anymore."
Don't Wear It Out Serving 18 months in jail for filing too many frivolous liens against lawyers and public officials in New Hampshire, Ghislain Breton, 40, copyrighted his name and announced that people must pay him $500,000 each time they use it. When authorities threatened him with another seven years in jail after he refused to promise that he would stop trying to file new liens, Breton was brought to state Supreme Court, where Justice James Duggan declared, "This has taken over your life, Mr. Breton."
Techno-Follies Heat generated by laptop computers can cause infertility by affecting sperm quality and quantity, according to researchers at SUNY Stony Brook. "The body needs to maintain a proper testicular temperature for normal sperm production," lead researcher Dr. Yefim Sheynkin said. "Portable computers in a laptop position produce scrotal hyperthermia."
-- Laptop computers can generate internal operating temperatures of more than 158 degrees, the researchers found after testing 29 volunteers ages 21 to 35, whose testicular temperature jumped by 3.6 degrees after an hour with a computer on their laps. Also, Sheynkin said, laptops "require the user to sit with his thighs close together to balance the machine, which traps the scrotum between the thighs."