News of the Weird

Lead Story
*The Agence France Presse news service reported that the official government newspaper of Baghdad, the Ai-Thawra, played an April Fools' Day joke on its readers, claiming on page one: "Good news: from today, bananas (2 pounds), Pepsi (a case) and chocolate (50 pieces) to be included in rations." Elsewhere in the newspaper the editors revealed the hoax and that the monthly food ration continues to be tinned cheese, flour, rice, sugar, tea, cooking oil, powdered milk and salt.

Science Fair
*Two researchers from the University of Vienna told a British Psychological Society conference in February that vaginal pheromones appear to block men's ability to distinguish beautiful women from plain ones. After men were given synthetic copulins, they judged plain women more attractive as to face and voice, and the less attractive the women initially, the greater the jump in their ratings.

*Life Imitates James Bond: In March, a joint urban-warfare exercise involving British Royal Marines and the U.S. Marines in Oakland, California, marked the first use of a small cannon that shoots a high-speed blast of quick-drying foam that hardens so fast, and with the strength of cement, that it enables troops to cross from building to building.

Unclear on the Concept
*A police detective reading the confession of Lyle May in Asheville, North Carolina, in March told a jury that after May had killed a 21-year-old woman, he also stabbed her four-year-old son to death. "It didn't seem right leaving him alive," May wrote. "I felt sorry for him. I did not want to see the kid crying or having the memory of his mom being killed."

*In April Canadian geneticist Robert Hegele told a conference in Edmonton, Alberta, that when he revealed to some Newfoundlanders in remote villages that they possessed a genetic flaw that increased their chances of heart disease, they were happy. Their initial reaction, said Hegele, was, " 'This is great! This means we're doomed, so we ... don't need to quit smoking or [eating fatty foods].' "

Least Competent Police
*Inmate Joshua Williams, 38, was released by jailers in Olathe, Kansas, in February after he sent them a fake fax announcing that a warrant against him had been dismissed. Among the fax's misspellings that failed to alert jailers: "Govenor." And Detroit inmate Waukeen Spraggins escaped in February when, impersonating a police official, he called jailers and ordered them to transport him to his girlfriend's house. Said Police Chief Benny Napoleon, "His request was so bizarre that people thought it had to be true."

Undignified Deaths
*In Bucharest, Hungary, in March, soccer player Mario Bugeanu and his girlfriend accidentally died from carbon monoxide poisoning in his car while having sex. And in New York City in March, salesman Douglas R. Buchholz, 36, was pushed out a window to his death from the 13th floor of his office building during horseplay with a colleague.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

 
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