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Maternal afflictions 

World women's chess champion Zsuzsa Polgar, 29, was scheduled to give birth this month in New York City and so had been permitted to reschedule her required title defense from April to June. However, Polgar pointed out that she might have to breastfeed her baby during the match, though she thought it would be more of a distraction to her than to her opponent. And a Hamilton, Ontario, lifeguard ordered Shannon Wray, 25, out of a municipal pool in February when she began to breastfeed her 9-month-old daughter. Wray assumed it was because she was offending other swimmers, but the lifeguard pointed to the "no food in the pool" rule.

Slap happy

Slap happy

Authorities at National Women's Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, opened an inquiry in February into an unusual treatment of premature babies during 1993 and 1994 that might have been the cause of five deaths and eight cases of brain damage. The practice involved removing congestion from the lungs by striking the babies on the chest for hours at a time, up to 200 blows per treatment, which objecting parents were told was harmless and that in fact most babies enjoyed it.

Physician assistant

The Times of London reported in March that a convicted rapist in his 30s has been recommended for British government-provided Viagra to treat the depression he has been experiencing since his release from prison a year ago. Doctors at St. George's hospital in Tooting, south London, say his main problem now is the lack of a girlfriend.

Burial plot

Burial plot

Clergyman James Elrod Ogle, 46, was indicted in March for the "counseling" he provided a parishioner at his Bull Run Bible Fellowship in Manassas, Va. According to prosecutors, after the parishioner confided his marital difficulties, Pastor Ogle offered to kill the man's wife if the man would help him out by killing Mrs. Ogle. The parishioner reported the conversation to the police and then wore a wire for several more meetings with Ogle before the indictment was obtained.

Only a drill

According to a January Chicago Sun-Times report, a 1998 National Institutes of Health surgery trial at the University of Colorado experimented with 40 Parkinson's disease patients, 20 of whom received fetal tissue implanted in their brains and 20 of whom had four holes drilled in their heads as placebos but nothing implanted. Some medical ethicists draw a distinction between giving patients placebo sugar pills and drilling "placebo" holes in their heads, but apparently none of the 20 was adversely affected. However, the trial was delayed when a couple of the real-implant patients died.

Positive bleeding

According to a recent issue of the Indian Journal of Orthopaedics, a majority of arthritis patients in a study showed a reduction in pain and an increase in hand-grip strength after a regimen of "autohemotherapy." About three-fourths of a cup of blood was withdrawn from patients' veins, mixed in a copper bowl with one-fourth cup each of honey and lemon juice, stirred for several minutes, and then taken orally.

Uneasy listening

An Associated Press report from Fort Lupton, Colo., in March detailed municipal judge Paul Sacco's punishments for violators of the town's boombox noise ordinance: They must report to court weekly to listen to selections ranging from Roger Whitaker standards to bagpipes to Navajo flute music to Judge Sacco's own guitar compositions. (Several of the violators interviewed by the AP admitted that they were scared straight by the music.)

Man of letters

At a routine traffic stop in Horseshoe Bend, Ark., in January, Donnie Todd, 17, presented a driver's license on which Arkansas was spelled "Arkansa" and slightly misprinted, and he was cited for suspicion of forgery. However, after investigating, officials said the license was real, issued by a Sharp County office whose computer was malfunctioning. The big loser ended up to be Francis McCabe, 19, who pleaded guilty in February to forging driver's licenses, a crime detected because he had inadvertently used a Sharp County-issued license as a model for his own bogus licenses.

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