LEAD STORY: Christmas Madness: 1) In November, the upscale New York City menswear and accessories store Jack Spade removed from its holiday catalog a $40 frog-dissection kit (with a real carcass) after numerous queries from people wondering what in the world the store was thinking. 2) A holiday party for inmates at Britain's Peterborough Jail promised a fun time with Xboxes and PlayStations, along with cash gifts of £5 each (about $9), which is greater than the value of the candy boxes the jail will give its guards for Christmas. 3) Police in Rock Hill, S.C., put a 12-year-old boy under arrest at the insistence of his mother after he had defied her and opened his Christmas gift three weeks early.
I Know My Rights!: The North Carolina Court of Appeals overturned the cocaine-possession conviction of Timothy Stone in September, ruling that a search of his person was unconstitutional although he had given police permission. The judges agreed with Stone that when he consented, he never expected that the officers would hold out the waistband of his sweatpants and shine a flashlight on his genitals (where he happened to be hiding a small container of cocaine).
Unintended Consequences: 1) The "Berkeley Pit" in Butte, Mont., is the nation's largest environmental-disaster site, with 40 billion gallons of highly toxic copper-mine waste that the federal government has long feared too expensive to clean up. However, Montana Tech researchers, writing in the Journal of Organic Chemistry in July, have found more than 160 types of "extremophiles" (organisms that thrive in toxicity) in the pit and have demonstrated that some are effective against lung and ovarian cancers. 2) Kimberly Baker, 22, sought child support in Warrensburg, Va., in October from the father of her daughter. However, when officials realized that the father, now 16, would have been 13 when the child was conceived, that made him a rape victim under state law, and thus, they arrested Baker.
Compelling Explanations: Ricardo Meana, 81, was charged with attempted murder in November in Sun City, Fla., when his 82-year-old wife, who has Alzheimer's, was found inside a van in a store's parking lot struggling with a plastic bag over her head. Police were called, but Meana seemed unconcerned and even nonchalantly resumed shopping, saying that he often put the bags on when his wife felt sick, so that she would not vomit on herself.
In a deposition, Ennis, Texas, physician Aniruddha Chitale admitted that semen patient Sherry Simpson found on her face after a 2004 colonoscopy was his and pleaded guilty to sexual assault. However, (according to a report by Dallas' WFAA-TV), Chitale insisted that the act that produced the semen was "unintentional." (Simpson is now suing Ennis Regional Medical Center for having tolerated Chitale's behavior.)
The Laws of Irony: Federal prosecutors have insisted so far that any ill-gotten money that former Enron executives had squirreled away in their spouses' names still can be fully recovered by the government, except for one executive. Michael Kopper, once a director of Enron's global finance unit, pleaded guilty in 2002 to illegally obtaining $16.5 million, but he is openly gay. And since his home state of Texas does not recognize his union with his longtime partner, prosecutors cannot treat the partner as a "spouse" and have lumped him with "third party" transferees, whose assets are much more difficult to obtain (according to a November report in Washington Blade).
University of California, Irvine, professor Elizabeth Loftus, a prominent scholar on people's overconfidence about memory, was turned down by the judge as an expert witness in November in the forthcoming trial of "Scooter" Libby (Vice President Cheney's former assistant, who has been charged with lying to prosecutors about phone conversations, which Libby says weren't lies but just forgetfulness). At a hearing on Loftus' credentials, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald not only exposed problems with her research but elicited from her the confident assertion that the two had never met. However, Fitzgerald then immediately refreshed Loftus' memory, reminding her that he had cross-examined her in court once before.
Names in the News: Pleading guilty to manslaughter in Pierre, S.D., in August was Mr. Austin First In Trouble, 19. And in Providence, R.I., in November, the teenager sentenced to life in prison for murder (where his life might rot away) is Mr. Phearin Rot. On the brighter side, a linebacker for South Sumter High School in Bushnell, Fla., had a good year: Yourhighness Morgan (whose brother Handsome Morgan and cousin Gorgeous Morgan were undoubtedly proud of him).
Recurring Themes: In yet another case of a person practicing what is allegedly acceptable in another country but illegal in the United States, a 28-year-old woman from Cambodia was arrested in Las Vegas in October for kissing her 6-year-old son's penis, which she said was simply an expression of motherly love. An official in California's Cambodian Association of America confirmed the custom to the Las Vegas Review-Journal but said it never extends past age 2.
More Things to Worry About: 1) With dozens of puzzled beachcombers witnessing, a cow marched into the surf off the coast of Queensland, Australia in November and swam out as far as 300 yards for four hours (returning to shore twice but venturing out again) before drowning from swallowing water. 2) In October in Vancouver, Wash., a Doberman pinscher named Victoria jumped on an electric stove and accidentally nudged a switch that started a fire in her apartment, resulting in about $100,000 worth of damage. It was the second time this year that Victoria had jumped on the stove and started a fire, but the first one did much less damage.
© 2006 CHUCK SHEPHERD
It would have been nice if a Republican had made this proposal, but I guess…
Things are coming around but every time someone takes a step forward the city pushes…
solar powered prius or STFU, mother nature haters.
"downtown has a LOWER per capita crime rate than most areas of the city" i'm…
Gahack, I take showers, not baths, to avoid throwing out babies. Instead of cowering in…