Israel and Palestine
• Tit for tat continues
Am I the only one who feels like he's been fed a bunch of lies from all sides on this issue for years now? That no one is telling the whole truth and if either side really wanted peace, they'd have it by now?
Court to review three-strikes laws
• Justices face issues of punishment
The constitution's ban on cruel, unusual punishment is the issue. Is it outrageous that someone could be sentenced to 50 years in prison for shoplifting $150 worth of videotapes?
Kids' snoring could signal serious ill
• May hint at apnea, learning problems
Or that you let your kids stay up too late every weeknight.
Wal-Mart tops Fortune 500 list
• Enron makes surprise appearance
It started out 40 years ago as a discount retailer that carved out a niche in small-town America by selling everything from toothpaste to toys. Now, Wal-mart Stores Inc. is the biggest company in the world on the annual Fortune 500 list with nearly $220 billion in revenues.
Who cares about how Walmart frequently influences the entertainment industry by refusing to carry certain artists if they don't agree with their lyrics or themes in a movie? Walmart thinks it has the right to be the moral voice for its customers instead of letting its customers decide? Censorship anyone?
Who cares if Walmart is responsible for the disappearance of local small stores? Why interact with people in your own community when you can drive into a giant parking lot and make one stop?
Who cares if Walmart is a major contributor to suburban sprawl?
Walmart is cheap and convienent. Aparantly that is all that matters to people.
Hell, even Talossa hates Walmart.
• The True Stories
In March, some of the normally tightly restrained local press in Saudi Arabia reported that 15 schoolgirls in Mecca died in a fire, with the fatalities due at least in part to their being denied permission to flee the burning building without their scarves and abaya robes. Witnesses said police from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice beat three girls until they retreated back into the smoke-filled building. Escape was further hindered because girls are always locked in at the school, in order to keep males out. [BBC News, 3-15-02]
Pushing the Advertising Envelope: A State University of New York at Buffalo professor, in a recent ecology journal, expressed confidence that eventually butterflies could be genetically altered to permit advertising logos and other designs on their wings. And in March, the British video game company, Acclaim Entertainment, announced it would "raise advertising to a new level" by offering to pay relatives of the deceased a fee if it could put small billboards on gravestones. [Trends in Ecology & Evolution-Chicago Sun-Times, 3-13-02] [The Guardian (London), 3-15-02]
• New Frontiers in Occupational Rehabilitation
Now awaiting approval for admission to state bar associations are law-school graduates William Francis Hanlon III, 49, in Florida (a former police officer who was implicated in the 1979 fatal police beating of black Miami motorcyclist Arthur McDuffie) and James J. Hamm, 53, in Arizona (who served 17 years in prison for murdering a drifter in the 1970s). And the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled in December that Montreal police could not refuse to hire a shoplifter whose conviction had been erased by a "conditional" sentence. And Sunderland University in England recently hired as a lecturer Professor Simone Doublett, 27, who six years ago admitted to having invented an elaborate tale of satanic abuse rituals against her so she could be paid from a New Zealand government victim fund. [Miami Herald, 12-19-01] [New York Times, 12-27-01] [Montreal Gazette, 12-14-01] [The Dominion, 1-19-02]
A sheriff's official in Arapahoe County, Colo. (near Denver), admitted in March that deputies had inadvertently placed a 16-year-old girl in a holding cell early one morning for about 40 minutes, alongside a 34-year-old man who was being held for one sexual assault and suspected of two others. The error came to light when the girl reported to her lawyer that the man had, indeed, forcibly fondled her in the cell. [Denver Post, 3-6-02]
Carl Franklin, 30, was reportedly inebriated and about to urinate by a fence when Tallahassee, Fla., police called out to him. Startled, and intending to run, but needing to zip up quickly and yet still handle the cigarette in his hand, he stuffed the smoke in his pocket and took off running. A few seconds later, officers noticed that Franklin's pants were on fire, which did not slow him immediately, but he did fall down when enough of the waistband burned that the trousers came down. [Tampa Tribune-Knight Ridder, 2-19-02]
In Fort Worth, Texas, jurors in the January murder trial of Sammy Alvarez, 54, accidentally checked the wrong box on the verdict form and sent Alvarez only to probation; they told reporters they had intended to sentence him to prison (two to 20 years) plus probation but marked the probation-only box. And the attorney-general of New South Wales, Australia, began an investigation in February after a man who was convicted of manslaughter was inadvertently provided the names and addresses of his jurors after he made a routine request for trial records to help him with his appeal. [Columbia Tribune-Knight Ridder, 2-9-02] [Sydney Morning Herald, 2-1-02]
• People in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
A 52-year-old employee of Golden Peanut Co. slipped off a catwalk and sank way down into a vat of tons of unshelled peanuts before being rescued (Norfolk, Va., February). A sludge-hauling firm was fined about $12,000 for a 2001 incident in which its driver swerved in traffic, sending a ton of oily gunk overboard, much of it onto a 44-year-old man driving with his car window open (Cheltenham, England, February). One young woman died and another was injured after being buried beneath falling, room-sized rolls of carpeting at Carpet Closeouts (Chicago, February). [Washington Post, 2-17-02] [London Daily Telegraph, 2-13-02] [Chicago Sun-Times, 2-16-02]
• People Different From Us
Sarasota, Fla., sheriff's Sgt. David London, a 24-year veteran of the force, resigned in March in the midst of sexual harassment complaints from female officers, including one who said London told her that he had to stop his patrol car at least four times on every shift in order to masturbate. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 3-14-02]
• Least Competent People
Walter Kidde Portable Equipment Inc. decided to go to trial late last year after being sued by X-IT products of Virginia Beach, Va., because Kidde thought X-IT would never be able to prove its copyright claim that it had originated the package design Kidde was using for the fire-escape ladder it was selling. However, X-IT easily proved that Kidde stole it, in that the woman and boy pictured climbing down the ladder in Kidde's design were actually the sister-in-law and nephew of X-IT founder Aldo DiBelardino. (A jury awarded X-IT $116 million.) [WTOP Radio-AP, 12-18-01]
• and the beat goes on...
We've heard of adults who have inadequately cared for elderly parents and allowed their homes to lapse into squalor, but the performance of Margaret Bobo, 42, of Tacoma, Wash., is noteworthy. She was arrested in January after health authorities found her 81-year-old mother living in a garbage-infested home, perched on a pile of trash about 4 feet high. The younger Bobo apparently never notified authorities about her mother, even though she diligently brought her mother meals and water every single day and admitted that she had to climb over the garbage piles to get into her mother's room and had to "slide" back down the piles to leave. [Spokane Spokesman-Review-AP, 1-20-02]
In 1993 the Kenosha, Wis., City Council had attempted to strengthen its anti-nudity regulations by proposing to make it illegal for a man to be in public with his "genitals in a discernibly turgid state" even though "covered," and a similar proposal was made in the Mississippi legislature in 2000, but neither became law. In February 2002, township supervisors in Numidia, Pa. (off of I-80 near Bloomsburg), succeeded in passing such an ordinance (though the town counsel, Todd Kerstetter, said the law would not apply to "normal occurrences"). [Bloomsburg Press-Enterprise, 2-8-02]
• Our Civilization in Decline
A South Korean government ministry, aiming to reduce food waste, announced in March that by its calculations, the South officially threw out more food last year than North Korea consumed. The Australian cell phone company Telstra apologized for abruptly closing the account of a cancer patient, allegedly because of a company policy encouraging the settlement of accounts before they pass on to a deceased's estate. A U.S. Treasury Department audit in December found that Internal Revenue Service could not account for 2,300 computers supposedly in its employees' hands (but IRS is still expected to require that taxpayers under audit meticulously account for their income and deductions). [Korea Herald, 3-5-02] [Sydney Morning Herald, 2-19-02] [KnightRidder.com-AP, 1-8-02]
Germany's agriculture ministry announced it would implement European Union guidelines requiring pig farmers to spend quality time with their stock (20 seconds per head per day, plus playthings and brighter lighting) (Bonn). A 15-year-old boy was arrested just after he breathlessly took a lunchtime seat in his school cafeteria; police said that, 39 minutes earlier, he had robbed a Bancorp South bank (Jackson, Miss.). A bald eagle swooped down and carried off a 13-pound dachshund, 300 feet, before losing its grip (Madison, Maine). Two Seattle police officers, responding to a nonemergency, crashed into each other, totaling both cars and damaging a nearby SUV driven by an undercover officer. [London Daily Telegraph, 2-17-02] [Clarion-Ledger (Jackson), 3-8-02] [CNN, 3-15-02] [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 3-15-02]