Lead Story

Dee Dee Jonrowe, leading the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in January in northern Minnesota, took a wrong turn and went 300 yards before recognizing her error. The error cost her only a few minutes, but she had to stop to calculate where she was, and by the time she was ready to turn the sled around, two of her dogs had begun to copulate. She was forced to wait and lost 25 minutes and the race.

Seeds of Our Destruction

A gun battle at the Notre Dame des Neiges Trappist wine-making monastery in France in November left one monk wounded. Because the monastery had been burglarized twice before in 1990, the monks had armed themselves with shotguns. After an alarm sounded, one brother fired a shot into the air, flushing out the burglars, and another blocked the burglars’ exit. The burglars began shooting, and the monks returned fire before Brother Zepherin fell with 200 pellets in his leg.

In October at an international conference in Helsinki, delegates from 22 countries arranged to petition the United Nations to include on its list of basic human rights the right to smoke.

A woman working as a researcher for the New Mexico State Office of Archaeological Studies, recently arriving at a site near Lamy, New Mexico, was attacked by a man and woman who claimed to be protecting the site from disturbances. She said she was screamed at, kicked, beaten, tied up with electric cords, and cut with a knife in 27 places.

In December the Canadian Cancer Society removed Darlene Betteley, 55, of Kitchener, Ontario, from her job of counseling breast-cancer patients because she refused to wear a prosthesis to disguise the fact that she had had a mastectomy.

A Brookings Institution report in October revealed that the national prison population had risen by 80,000 over the last year to 1.2 million, a pace that, if continued, would have one of every two Americans in jail by the year 2053.

A recent study noted in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that men who live to be 40 years old in Bangladesh have a better chance of reaching age 65 than 40-year-old men in Harlem. (Women have a better chance in Harlem.)

Among Miami crime news in 1990: Two Nicaraguans were arrested in a routine traffic stop with TOW missiles and an antitank rocket in their pickup truck, and a drug enforcement agent was knocked unconscious by a 200-pound bale of $20 bills that had been tossed out a window during a raid. (The bale contained almost $2 million.)

Recent regulations in Michigan’s Medicaid program cut the number of free condoms available per client from a maximum of 24 per day to a maximum of 12 per day (and 36 per month) because many were being resold. One health official criticized the change, pointing out that crack addicts often discover their libidos stimulated and may have sex 100 times a month.

Weird Zoology

Pepper the parrot, hired last fall for a TV commercial for Alascom, the long-distance telephone carrier for Alaska, actually only lip-synched his line because the sponsor thought Pepper sounded too human. The company hired a human actor to imitate a parrot’s voice.

After fire fighters in Dudley, England, rescued a family from a blazing home in November, they went back inside and, using a soup ladle, rescued the only survivor of the family’s four pet tarantulas.

According to a September report by University of Illinois veterinarians, wild raccoons are usually healthy, but those that hang around humans can acquire rotten teeth and high cholesterol because they eat human leftovers.

Researchers at three universities reported in December that they had resolved a 100-year-old medical mystery about the suspected link between men’s eating frog legs and developing priapism (prolonged penile erection): Frogs eat beetles that have high levels of the drug cantharidin (known as “Spanish fly”), which has been associated with priapism.

Dorena Ann Coon, in a last-ditch effort to save her aggressive four-year-old terrier from execution, convinced sentencing Judge Walter Rogers in Concord, California, to allow her to arrange for the dog to have all of his teeth pulled.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.