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News Quirks


Curses, Foiled Again

A 42-year-old woman, who police in Lynn, Mass., reported was being “chased frantically” by a man wielding a large kitchen knife, sought safety by running into the police station, where she “quickly began to cower.” The man followed her and raised the knife above her head while punching her. Officer Raymond Therrien said he grabbed the man’s arm and “delivered several knee strikes to his midsection” until he dropped the knife. Police filed multiple charges against Constantine Greven, 40. (Lynn’s Daily Item)

Unintelligent Design

Louisiana is issuing publicly funded vouchers for the coming school year that will allow thousands of children to attend private schools where they will learn that Scotland’s Loch Ness monster is real. The schools follow a fundamentalist curriculum that includes the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) program, which aims at disproving evolution and proving creationism. One of its tenets is that if dinosaurs lived the same time as humans, then Darwinism is flawed.

One ACE biology textbook declares that scientists are becoming more convinced that dinosaurs are alive today, explaining that the Loch Ness monster “has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.” Another claim is that a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur, an event that did occur in the movie Godzilla but hasn’t yet happened in real life. Scotland’s position is that such teaching is good for tourism. Nessie expert Tony Drummond, who leads Loch Ness tours, called it “Christian propaganda” and “ridiculous,” but urged pupils at the Louisiana schools “to come and investigate the loch for themselves.” (Scotland’s Herald) Not-So-Petty Theft

Margo Reed, 54, pleaded guilty to stealing $163,582 from three public library branches in Yonkers, N.Y., over a seven-year period. Reed was responsible for depositing fines collected for overdue books (10 cents for most, 50 cents for new ones). She said she would regularly alter the paperwork with correction fluid and pocket the difference, usually $100 or more each time. A new business manager discovered the theft when he observed the alterations, which he said were obvious but never noticed because everyone trusted Reed as a longtime, conscientious employee. “It’s like no one was checking the checker,” business manager Stephen Force explained. (New York Times)

School Daze

To celebrate the end of the term, a private girls school in Sherbooke, Québec, hired hypnotist Maxime Nadeau to entertain a group of 12- and 13-year-old girls by putting some in a trance while others watched. When the show ended, several girls in the audience who’d fallen under Nadeau’s spell remained mesmerized. Nadeau, who received about 14 hours of instruction in basic hypnotism, couldn’t snap them out of it and had to call the hypnotist who trained him. Richard Whitbread, who drove an hour to Collège du Sacré-Coeur to release the girls, said he found several girls still under the effects of “mass hypnosis.” He made them think they were being re-hypnotized and then awakened them. School administrators said they learned after the fact that hypnosis isn’t recommended for people younger than 14 because they’re particularly susceptible to suggestion. (CBC News)

Victims of Success

Improvements in airline safety have complicated rules to improve flight safety. That’s because the benefits of these rules are calculated primarily on how many deaths they may prevent. “If anyone wants to advance safety through regulation, it can’t be done without further loss of life,” said William Voss, chief executive officer of the Flight Safety Foundation. (Bloomberg News)

When Guns Are Outlawed

Philadelphia police arrested Kenneth Butterworth, 45, saying he pulled out a crossbow in a fit of road rage and pointed it at the other driver. (Philadelphia’s WCAU-TV)

Mensa Reject of the Week

Eiliya Maida decided the best way to remove cobwebs from the backyard of his home in Chico, Calif., was to use a propane blowtorch. He ended up igniting dry plants, which started an attic fire that caused $25,000 in damages, according to Fire Inspector Marie Fickert, and displaced the family, which has no insurance. (Chico Enterprise Record)

Adding Insult to Injury

After a drunk driver killed her oldest son, Loretta Robinson told the judge at the driver’s sentencing in Greenville, S.C., that even though her son wasn’t at fault, she has received bills associated with his death, including paying to have his wrecked car stored for months, in case there was a trial. “I had to pay to have the vehicle towed,” she said. “I had to pay for the vehicle removed and to clean up the street from Justin’s blood on the ground.” The charge for cleaning the street was $50. (Greenville’s WYFF-TV)