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"You use the toilet every day. Imagine if you could start pouring a little gasoline into the toilet bowl and get 50 cents a gallon (as a tax credit from IRS) every time you flushed." According to a hedge fund analyst (quoted by The Nation magazine for an April story), that's the way Congress' 2005 legislation to encourage "alternative" fuels has been exploited by the paper industry. Company representatives have until now been proud that the paper industry supplied most of its own fuel, as a by-product of making paper, but when it discovered the tax credit, it reworked its factories to accept a mixture of the incumbent by-product and ordinary diesel fuel, thus creating an "alternative" fuel and earning the credit, which, for example, was worth $71.6 million to International Paper Co. in March and is not scheduled to expire until December.

Italian researchers revealed in March that at least one method of increasing penis size actually works (but that it would take a highly motivated man to take advantage of it). Writing in the British Journal of Urology, a team from the University of Turin had volunteers attach weights of from 1.3 to 2.6 pounds for six hours a day for a six-month period and found that their flaccid-state lengths increased by an average of almost 1 inch. [, 3-11-09]

Retired rogue New York City police detectives Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito, who were convicted in 2006 of assisting the Mafia for many years (including with assassinations), were sentenced to life in prison plus 80 to 100 additional years. However, because the men retired from the force before they had been charged with crimes, they are entitled by law to their lifetime pensions of $5,313 a month and $3,896 a month, respectively. [New York Times, 3-7-09]

Army Sgt. Erik Roberts, 25, was injured in Baghdad in 2006 by a roadside bomb, and his leg required 12 surgeries before supposedly healing, but last year a life-threatening infection was discovered in the leg. Roberts underwent a 13th surgery that was covered by his private health insurance, but a costly, rigorous antibiotics regimen was subject to a $3,000 co-pay, which Roberts asked the Department of Veterans Affairs to take care of, but the agency repeatedly refused, in that Roberts had gone outside the "system" to save his war-ravaged leg. Only when a CNN reporter called the matter to the attention of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in March did the agency relent. [CNN, 3-26-09]

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