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News of the Weird


Carpet caveat: Despite a warning label reading "Do not use indoors because of flammability" on its carpet adhesive, the Para-Chem company was ordered by a jury in Akron, Ohio, in July to pay $8 million to two professional installers who were severely burned in an explosion when they tried to use the product indoors. One juror told the Akron Beacon Journal that he and his colleagues felt the warning did not go far enough in convincing the installers not to use the product indoors.

Prickly subject: A whole class of New Bedford, Mass., middle-school students was recommended for blood tests in July after officials learned that, in May 2001, a now-retired seventh-grade science teacher had pricked the fingers of about two dozen of the students to make sample blood slides, using the same needle (though he wiped it with alcohol between uses). Officials thought the risk of infection was low but had no explanation how a veteran science teacher could stray so far from contemporary blood-safety procedures.

Latest Astonishing Research: A paper by psychologist Michel Lariviere for Correctional Services of Canada concluded that most guards don't respect inmates (which inhibits rehabilitation efforts) (May). A $4 million study by University of Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions revealed that employees are much more likely to call in sick if they have drunk alcohol the night before (May). A Harvard School of Public Health survey found that people report more noise and other disruptions in binge-drinking college neighborhoods than in other neighborhoods (July). An Iowa State University study found that TV viewers had a harder time noticing the commercials on shows containing explicit sex than on other types of shows (June).

Dead issue: The owners of Los Angeles' Westwood Village Memorial Park (resting place of Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and Frank Zappa) have asked the county to allow them to build a 463-casket mausoleum on formerly open space in the park that is very close to residential property, thus potentially disturbing both neighbors worried about spirits in their back yards and solemn park visitors, who may be exposed to screaming children and barbecue smoke.

Minor details: Former Broward County (Fla.) librarian William Coday's online personal ad touts his multilingualism, world travels, compassion, love of Keats and baroque music. The ad does not mention that he was convicted of murdering his 1978 and 1997 girlfriends, both with hammers, and that he is in jail awaiting a jury's decision whether he gets death for the latter crime.

Pull Their Parenting Licenses: David and Guadalupe Mata were arrested for allegedly chaining their 21-year-old daughter face up on her bed, to keep her away from the married man she had been seeing (Fullerton, Calif., July). A mother and stepfather were charged with duct-taping her 12-year-old son to a lawn chair so he would get sunburned as punishment for sassing her (Hamilton, Ohio, May).

People Different From Us: Shemuel Nahum Ben Yisrael (formerly, James Christopher) filed a $10 million lawsuit in June against the city of Beaufort, S.C., and its mayor, police and sheriff's department, for an unlawful arrest in 2000 and for generally harassing him. According to the police chief in Yisrael's hometown of nearby Yemassee, Yisrael keeps buckets of paint and urine handy at his home so that, when law enforcement officers come for one of their frequent arrests of him (mostly for trespassing), he can douse himself so as to make the officers' jobs harder.

Also, in the Last Month: A Muslim housewife in Florida filed a lawsuit after the state revoked her driver's license because she insisted that her identification photo reveal only her eyes (because of her niqab veil) (Winter Park, Fla.). A 20-year-old man was arrested after making 1,100 calls to 911 over a two-day period, attributing his behavior simply to boredom (Gainesville, Fla.). A court in Iran denied Mohammad Khordadian travel privileges for 10 years because he formerly taught Iran-disapproved dance lessons while living in Los Angeles (Tehran).