Odds and Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
NOVEMBER 8, 1999:
Dateline: England -- According to a British coroner's report, two women were killed by a lightning bolt in London's Hyde Park last Wednesday when the underwire in their bras acted as electrical conductors. The two women, Anuban Bell, 24, and Sunee Whitworth, 39, had been hiding under a tree in the park during a thunderstorm when the lightning bolt struck their bras and passed through their bodies, leaving burn marks on their chests. "This is only the second time in my experience of 50,000 deaths where lightning has struck the metal in a bra causing death," said coroner Paul Knapman. "I do not wish to overemphasize any significance."
Dateline: New York -- A former professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice was charged last Monday with using grants from a federally funded heroin study to -- believe it or not -- score heroin. Ansley Hamid was charged in Manhattan federal court with theft of federal funds between June 1996 and November 1997. The charges relate to a $3.1 million federal grant awarded to John Jay College in 1996 to examine heroin use and its distribution in New York City. According to the complaint, Hamid embezzled and misapplied much of this funding for personal use. Among the allegations is that he used the grant to buy heroin for junkies and that he experimented with the drug himself. Hamid was also charged with using more than $6,500 in grant money to finance trips to Florida, Hawai'i and Trinidad. To top it all off, Hamid submitted bills totaling more than $2,000 for compact discs including ABBA, The Spice Girls, Michael Jackson and others. According to investigators who later questioned him, Hamid felt that he was entitled to listen to music while he worked on his computer.
Dateline: California -- A group protest by five so-called "BASE jumpers" at Yosemite National Park last weekend ended with a very different impact than the one intended. The five protesting parachuters jumped off El Capitan Peak to oppose Yosemite's restrictions against dangerous parachute jumping within the park. BASE jumpers -- an acronym for "Building, Antenna, Span, Earth" -- are extreme thrillseekers who sneak onto private or public structures and landmarks and parachute off. The five protesters intended to get arrested in front of television cameras after leaping from El Capitan's 3000-foot granite face to show that their fledgling sport is safe. Unfortunately, the parachute of Jan Davis -- a grandmother and professional stuntwoman from Santa Barbara -- failed to open, and the woman plunged to her death in front of her husband, friends and numerous invited television crews. Although the demonstration was aimed at persuading Yosemite officials to drop their ban on BASE jumping, it seems safe to say that the park will not be changing its policy any time soon.
Dateline: Montana -- A rather inexperienced 21-year-old hunter kicked off this year's big game season with a bang by bagging a 300-pound buck on his very first day. Unfortunately, the Montana man had actually shot himself a llama on the Cascade Hutterite Colony near Fort Shaw. Although hunting domestic llama is technically illegal, no charges were filed. The clueless hunter wasn't even aware of his error until he hauled the hornless, long-necked, woolly-haired animal to a meat processing plant and was quickly informed of the difference between a deer and a llama. "The guy is absolutely humiliated," said a local game warden.
Dateline: Tennessee -- Conservative city commissioners in Johnson City, Tenn., have suspended the beer license of a local nightclub for three days after the club allowed topless dancing on its premises. Surprisingly, it was a group of shirtless male dancers that caused this shocking violation of the city's anti-nudity ordinance. Despite the fact that the performers were severely lacking in the cleavage department, the city maintains that Kokomo's Beach Club violated an ordinance prohibiting the exposure of "bare breasts" in businesses selling alcohol.