Tracks of her tears 

Dionne French has filed a lawsuit in federal court in New Mexico over a 1998 incident, charging the Santa Fe Southern Railway and one of its conductors and brakemen with negligence in not stopping a train in time to avoid hitting her. French, who was homeless at the time and living near Santa Fe, admitted that she was lying on the tracks asleep, with a brown blanket over her body, but said the railroad still had the obligation to detect her presence and stop.

Stinging sensation

Some people in strife-torn Pakistan are dealing with their woes by smoking scorpions, according to a Reuters dispatch from Quetta. Users dry the scorpion's stingers, grind them up, light the powder and suck in the smoke. "When I smoke scorpion," said Ghulam Raza, "then heroin is like nothing to me." Addicts in Quetta tend to hang out at a local cemetery, where outsiders will not bother them -- though there is an occasional problem with persons in a stinger stupor falling into partially dug graves.

Bag boy

A 33-year-old man was taken to Via Christi Regional Medical Center in Wichita, Kan., with a coat hanger stuck in his throat. The man told hospital staff that there was a logical explanation. At a party, he said, "someone" had slipped a dime-sized balloon containing what he was told was cocaine into his drink. After accidentally ingesting the balloon and feeling it stick in his throat, he decided to try to fish it out with the coat hanger. Surgeons unhooked the hanger, but police recovered the bag. Prosecutors said they would probably file a felony drug possession charge against the man.

Complete rundown

In an incident resembling a movie scene, Alan Martin, 49, was hospitalized in fair condition after being run over by a speeding car. Martin had deliberately lain down in the middle of a busy street in Daly City, Calif., as a protest against police officers who confiscated his RV, which had just been involved in a minor accident. Martin refused to budge from the street, so the officers tried to shield his body by blocking a lane of traffic with their cruisers. But along came one of those notorious California hot-pursuit police chases: A car driven by fleeing suspect Kevin Domino, 37, rammed one of the stopped cruisers, then drove directly over Martin's body. Trying to straighten out his car, Domino inadvertently ran over Martin a second time before taking off. Police caught Domino a few blocks later when his car stalled out. It was confiscated, too.

No sweat

Muscles of two groups of people who simply concentrated on imagining that they were exercising were strengthened dramatically, according to research presented by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation to a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience last month. The research showed that the imagination group improved their strength 35 and 13 percent, respectively, as compared to no increase at all by control groups who neither exercised nor meditated on exercise.

Delayed departure

Scott Bender filed a lawsuit against U.S. Airways, charging that a crew on a flight from North Carolina last February closed up the plane, which had parked at a gate in Birmingham, Ala., and left him sleeping in his seat. Bender said he deserves some money from the airline because it was pitch black when he woke up, and he thought for a few seconds that he was dead.

Plumber's helper

Sudanese-born gynecologist Darwish Hasan Darwish dropped to his knees after he was found not guilty by a jury at Crown Court in Preston, England, on a charge that he had raped a woman whom he had put under hypnosis. The woman later gave birth to his child, which was assumed for years to have been her husband's. That is, until her husband, a plumber, installed a sauna in the Darwish home and noticed a resemblance between one of Darwish's daughters and his own. The jury apparently believed the sex might have been consensual, but the judge did not permit jurors to know that Dr. Darwish had already been convicted of having sex with patients under similar circumstances nine times.

Height of health

In July, Dr. Richard Dye of Half Moon Bay, Calif., was acquitted of sexual assault on female patients despite his admission that he had therapeutically brought at least four women to climax on his examination table during his years as a family practitioner. (Police said he had told them it was "100" women.) Though several woman had made complaints against him, a large contingent of his female patients attended the trial, enthusiastically supporting him.

House calls

Stephen Millhouse, 20, was convicted of burglary in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for breaking into the apartment of a 21-year-old woman and awakening her. According to her testimony, Millhouse was only slightly aggressive, mostly asking politely for sex, which she declined. Frustrated, Millhouse then asked for an actual date. She finally gave him her phone number just to get rid of him, and when he called her back, she arranged a meeting -- and for his arrest. Millhouse's lawyer told the jury that his client is much too stupid to be dangerous, even asking Millhouse on the stand, "Did you really think she wanted to see you again?" Responded Mill-house, "I didn't know for sure. That's why I called."

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