Lead Story

Michael Sullivan, 41, and Joseph Seidl, 39, were arrested on drug trafficking charges after being pulled over for speeding on Interstate 70 in Kingdom City, Missouri, in June. In the trunk of the car state troopers found a three-foot model rocket containing more than two pounds of methamphetamine, worth about $145,000; it was rigged to swing into launch position when the trunk was opened, and its engines were wired to ignite via a switch next to the driver’s seat. The officers said they believed the system was designed for quick disposal of the drugs in case of trouble; they offered no explanation for three other devices found in the trunk, which resembled pipe bombs but were loaded with meth and prescription pills.

Guns Don’t Kill People

In an early-morning gun battle in June at Pittsburgh’s Ferris Court housing complex, two undercover officers and a shooting suspect fired at least 103 rounds at one another but missed every single time; no bystanders were hit either. And in March Regina Jones-Peoples of Youngstown, Ohio, was shot 18 times at close range in the neck, breast, abdomen, and legs (allegedly by her estranged husband), after which she drove herself to the hospital; she was later listed in stable condition.

Government in Action

As part of the first revision of Irish prison regulations since 1947, the justice ministry published new proposed rules in June. Corporal punishment and the disciplinary use of restricted diet would become officially illegal; on the other hand, prisoners would no longer be able to order in food and alcohol from the outside or hire servants to clean their cells.

A Washington Post article in June described two problems faced by officials in Montgomery County, Maryland: the proliferation of weeds in parkland and the illegal removal from parks of a particular weed, mugwort, by ethnic Asians who harvest it as a delicacy or for its supposed medicinal value. The county had begun to plan an outreach program explaining to Asian residents (particularly the elderly) that what they are doing is against the law; meanwhile a pilot program would soon be under way to see if goats could be trained to eat the weeds.

The Associated Press reported in May on a proposal by a local official in Vienna, Austria, to combat the rampant problem of dog excrement on sidewalks: a database would be created containing DNA samples from all the city’s dogs (about 50,000 are currently registered) so droppings could be matched to the offending dog and the owner punished. A similar program had been proposed in Dresden, Germany, in March.

News That Sounds Like a Joke

A support group in Nelson, New Zealand, for people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome said in May that its committee members had been too tired to plan any activities for CFS International Awareness Day. Also in May a Rotary Club in Miramichi, New Brunswick, announced that the grand prize in its raffle to help build an environmental education center would be a new Hummer. And in June Gerald Williams, 34, pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography; last year federal agents were interviewing him in his home about his possible purchase of such materials when a child-porn screen saver suddenly appeared on his computer.

Questionable Judgments

According to police and witnesses in Anchorage in June, Juan Puliddo-Castaneda, 24, started a four-car accident when he lost control and hit a curb at high speed, flipping his car and sending it airborne into oncoming traffic; four people were hospitalized. Puliddo-Castaneda allegedly left the scene on foot but was arrested about six miles away in front of Anchorage Golf Course; his passengers told police he’d been speeding because he was concerned about making his tee time.

In June an 82-year-old man was hospitalized in Baltimore with extensive first- and second-degree burns: having locked himself out of his car with the engine running, he’d been using a vacuum cleaner to siphon the remaining gas out of the tank when a spark from its motor ignited the fumes.

Community leaders in a gay neighborhood in Toronto unveiled a 13-foot statue of Alexander Wood in June. A magistrate and merchant, Wood was a respected figure in the city’s early history but became the subject of scandal in 1810: After a woman reported that she had been raped but had managed to scratch her attacker on the genitals, Wood took it on himself to examine suspects for such a wound; he left town rather than face charges of abusing his authority. Plaques on the statue’s base recount the episode and depict a standing man with his pants down and a seated Wood reaching toward him. A local writer quoted by Toronto’s Eye Weekly suggested that Wood’s hero status transcended the facts of his story: “We’re creating a mythology that gay people can identify with and be proud of.”

Names in the News

Convicted of DUI (for the fourth time) and reckless homicide in Springfield, Illinois, in June: Doris Lush. (Her lawyer had asked that she be tried under a pseudonym; the judge denied the motion but warned the prosecution not to mention her name more than necessary.) Charged with the possession of 33 pounds of cocaine in Roseville, Michigan, in May: Denise Coke.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.