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News » News Quirks

Flu Fever



Curses, Foiled Again
When John Comparetto exited a bathroom stall at a Holiday Inn outside Harrisburg, Pa., he said a man pointed “a very large handgun” in his face. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the robber fled with Comparetto’s money and cell phone, but Comparetto, a retired New York police chief, pulled his ankle gun and gave chase, joined by some of the other 300 police officers attending a convention at the hotel. They quickly arrested Jerome Marquis Blanchett, 19, whom Comparetto dubbed “probably the dumbest criminal in Pennsylvania.”

• Oklahoma state police arrested David Louis Siany, 51, for bank robbery after a criminal justice student at the University of Central Oklahoma identified him from a surveillance photo on a news Website. The student was Michael Siany, 21, the suspect’s son. “A lot of things went through my mind,” the younger Siany told the Tulsa World, “but I knew the right thing to do.”

Flu Fever
Swine flu fears prompted Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock University to announce the school would hold a separate graduation ceremony for 22 students who recently returned from Mexico, where, health officials said, the flu originated and spread rapidly. University official Karl Schwab said the school would recognize the students’ sacrifice of not graduating with the rest of their class by videotaping the private ceremony and showing it at the main ceremony.

U.S. officials recommended calling the flu pandemic something else after other countries threatened to ban pork exports from North America, especially from Iowa, the leading U.S. pork producer. “It’s important to not refer to swine flu,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa and longtime friend of the pork industry, told reporters. “It’s important to convey the message that consuming pork will not cause this illness.”

Not only can pigs still be eaten, but according to the National Pork Producers Council, which lobbies the federal government on behalf of the nation’s 67,000 pork producers, they can even be petted and hugged, or tickled until they squeal.

While lobbyists and officials discounted the likelihood of pigs transmitting the flu to humans, a human infected 200 pigs on a farm in Alberta, Canada, with the H1N1 virus. Brian Evans, a senior official from Canada’s food safety agency, told journalists that the man, a farm worker who recently returned from Mexico, and the pigs were recovering.

Modern Times
Police in Pittsfield, Mass., charged Stephanie K. Lighten, 26, with domestic assault and battery after she reportedly tried to use a large syringe to artificially inseminate her wife by force with her brother’s semen. The Berkshire Eagle reported that Jennifer A. Lighten, 33, told police her wife was “all liquored up.”

The Right to Bare Feet
Flying footwear has become so rampant in India’s general election that authorities began erecting metal safety nets to protect politicians from disgruntled voters during campaign speeches. Candidates have also asked party workers to remove their shoes at meetings and alerted their security staff to scrutinize people at rallies and journalists at news conferences.

Police in Akron, Ohio, said a 52-year-old woman who took a job as an exotic dancer to help make ends meet was attacked on her first day by a jealous co-worker, who hit the victim several timers in the face with a stiletto shoe. “The other girls were upset she was there and said, ‘We don’t need any more dancers around here,’” police Lt. Rick Edwards told the Akron Beacon Journal.

Forgotten But Not Gone
When a loud siren sounded in a Washington, D.C., neighborhood at 5:30 a.m. and lasted nearly 90 minutes, alarmed residents were unsure of the source and what action to take. The University of the District of Columbia announced later that the alarm was on one of its buildings but is not part of the university and “may be part of a Municipal Civil Defense system.” UDC official Jacquelyn Boynton explained that several crisis alarms had been installed in 1975, but current university staffers weren’t aware of them and aren’t even sure they still have a use.

Compiled from the nation’s press by Roland Sweet. Submit items, citing date and source, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.