Are We Safe Yet?
In a two-day period in March, alarming reports revealed that "dirty (radiation) bombs" easily entered the country in car trunks in tests, that one-third of U.S. civilian nuclear research reactors were insufficiently secure, and that concerns were heightened about the 2,000 shoulder-fired missiles said to be unaccounted for in the worldís arsenals. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Times reported that the fishing village of Dillingham, Alaska, at least, is secure, now that a $200,000 Homeland Security anti-terrorism grant has paid for 60 "downtown" surveillance cameras (with 20 more to come). Dillingham (pop. 2,400) is about 300 miles from Anchorage, with no roads linking it to anywhere.
In earnest testimony in March, Douglas Dyer explained how it was just bad luck that his married girlfriend got shot twice, fatally, in the middle of her back by the rifle he was holding. Dyer said he had originally intended to kill himself, but when she grabbed at the gun to stop him, it fired into her hand. Then, as she ran out a door, he followed and bumped the door open with the gun, causing it to fire and accidentally hit her flush in the back. As his body flinched from the shot, banging into a wall, the rifle again accidentally fired, putting another bullet in the center of her back. (The Rockland, Maine, jury apparently didnít believe a word of it and convicted him of murder.)
Brian Blair is now a Republican county commissioner in Tampa, Fla., but before that was a professional wrestler for 20 years. He now says it wasnít the dropkicks, pile drivers or neck breakers that ended his career, but rather tripping over a tray of dirty dishes at a Carrabbaís Italian Grill in Tampa in 2001, which he said injured his head, shoulder and knee, and his lawsuit is still pending. (His previous lawyers resigned in March.) Blair wrestled for four months after that injury, but said the matches were the less-strenuous "tag-team" contests. Also, hospital records show a blood-alcohol reading of 0.089 90 minutes after the incident, though Blair told the Tampa Tribune he only had a sip.
At the Nov. 14 meeting of the governing board of Provincetown, Mass., Selectwoman Sarah Peake raised a formal objection to the continued presence of the historical painting that graces the boardís meeting room, though it is of a previously uncontroversial scene of Pilgrims voting on the Mayflower Compact. Peakeís objection (according to a November report in the Boston Globe) is that there are no women in the painting.
Super-Compelling: (1) John Meloís lawsuit demanding re-sentencing was rejected in March by the Middlesex County, Mass., Superior Court. Facing a term of "10 years," Melo had complained that a couple of "Feb. 29ís" were included in that time, and since a "year" is usually 365 days, he should not be serving 366 days during leap years. (2) According to the Hartwell (Ga.) Sun, state Sen. Nancy Schaefer, speaking at an "issues day" event in February, said one reason illegal immigrants find work in the United States was because "50 million" abortions have caused a U.S. labor shortage: "We could have used those people."
Unclear on the Concept
Ms. Zulima Farber became the New Jersey attorney general in January even though her public record shows 13 speeding tickets, three license suspensions, and two bench warrants (for failure to appear in court regarding the tickets). Farber acknowledged "embarrassment" at the record and joked that it might take "psychoanalysis" to learn why she did those things. (However, a psychoanalyst interviewed by the New York Daily News rejected the suggestion. Farber, said the doctor, just "needs a spanking.")
The Christian Diocese of Mizoram in northeast India, which was established by Welsh Presbyterian missionaries who worked the area from 1840 to around 1960, announced in March that it would send a missionary back to Wales because it was clear that the Welsh are in serious spiritual decline. "The Mizos," said Rev. Zosang Colney, "have a burden to do something for their Mother Church in Wales," since fewer than 1 in 10 Welsh regularly attend services.
What Goes Around, Comes Around: (1) Englandís Norwich Union insurance company reached a settlement in January with its employee Linda Riley over her workplace injuries. Riley had tripped over a pile of claim forms in the office. (2) Protesters filed a lawsuit against New York City recently, raising familiar complaints about police behavior: that NYPD harassed peaceful demonstrators during a 2004 rally, herded participants into pens, and intimidated speakers and supporters with threats. However, the plaintiff in this lawsuit is the police officersí union, whose members were protesting the slow pace of contract negotiations with the city.
Not Your Fatherís Hellís Angels: Police were investigating the Hellís Angels chapter in Stockholm, Sweden, in February after 70 members claimed government benefits for being "depressed." Police said the gang had largely abandoned its reliance on shootouts and bomb attacks and moved into crimes like tax fraud.
Driving While Nude
Recent drivers who decided, for reasons known only to them, to get naked before taking the wheel: (1) A woman, her toddler and her mother (all naked), Norwood, N.Y., sitting in a parked car (February). (2) John Persico, Providence, R.I., smashed into several cars naked (February). (3) Natalie Peterson, 23, Roy, Utah, shucked her clothes after an argument with her aunt (March). (4) Eric Wayne, 57, Pocono Township, Pa. (An officer who knew him said Wayne "tends to get a little weird" when heís been without sex) (arraigned in March). (5) A man and woman, ages 59 and 70, Cologno al Serio, Italy (joyriding nude) (March).
Least Competent Criminals
Outstanding Police Work: (1) A 40-year-old man in Cedarburg, Wis., was arrested on suspicion of DUI when police noticed the severed hose of a gas station pump sticking out of his carís fuel door. (It belonged to a Kwik Trip station.) (2) Daniel Nordell, 52, with a history of DUI, was arrested in March when police saw him driving through downtown Waupaca, Wis., in reverse (because he said the other gears wouldnít work). (3) A 44-year-old man was arrested for DUI in Australiaís Northern Territory in March after he asked a police officer how to get to the hard-to-miss Uluru (Ayers Rock, the huge, 1,000-foot-high rock formation that appears red in sunlight), which was about 300 feet in front of him, illuminated in his headlights.