Lead Story

In February in Hamilton, Ontario, a 15-year-old boy was rescued after spending two hours in subzero cold dangling upside down eight feet off the ground in his underwear. According to the Hamilton Spectator the boy, who was unharmed, had been tobogganing alone at night when he found spray paint and rope at a construction site and decided to graffiti the side of a newly built bridge. Once he’d lowered himself over the railing, however, the rope slipped, dropping him about 30 feet and wrapping around his legs; by the time people leaving a nearby house heard him screaming, he’d removed his boots and jacket and shredded his pants while trying to wriggle free.

Democracy in Finland

Citing studies showing people tend to trust other people with physical features like their own, the software company Intopii introduced a new online service during the run-up to Finnish parliamentary elections in March: users could upload photos of themselves to the Intopii site and have a facial-recognition program identify the candidate they most resembled. Also: in the election Jyrki Kasvi, the incumbent representative from Uusimaa and a big Star Trek fan, successfully defended his seat; among the information at his own site is a statement of his political philosophy translated into Klingon.

Government in Action

In February the English borough of Swindon told local author Mark Sutton that his book honoring WWI veterans, Tell Them of Us, would no longer be sold at the tourist center until he took out $9.8 million worth of accident insurance to protect the borough if a customer were struck by a falling copy of the book or suffered a paper cut while turning its pages. After Sutton refused, officials offered to reduce the required policy value to $3.9 million; no word on his response.

The Associated Press reported in February on the decision last year by authorities in Fumin County, in southwest China, to have crews with spray guns climb Laoshou Mountain, which had been stripped bare of trees by decades of quarrying, and paint all the exposed rock bright green. Perplexed residents variously interpreted the move as some sort of new environmental policy or an attempt to improve local feng shui; a worker at the county forestry department said she couldn’t provide any official explanation.

Unclear on the Concept

Robert Moore, 37, was arrested in Floral City, Florida, in January on charges of attempted murder after he allegedly knocked his wife down in front of her eight-year-old daughter and stomped repeatedly on her head. Police said Moore told them he wanted to kill her because she’d had an abortion without his knowledge.

Compelling Explanations

In February, less than two months into his new job as Denver’s city attorney, former state judge Larry Manzanares resigned after police tracking a laptop stolen from the state district court found it in his home. Describing for a KMGH TV reporter how he’d come to acquire it, Manzanares conceded, “It was rather foolish of me to even think about buying a computer from a fellow in a parking lot.”

Shocking but True

As part of a February story on suspicious ads offering free bichon frise and Maltese puppies (usually sold for $1,000 or more) to buyers who’ll cover the cost of overseas shipping, an investigator at San Diego’s KGTV TV called a number from one ad and reached a seller in Lagos, Nigeria. When the caller insisted on hearing the puppies bark before wiring any money, a barking noise came over the line; an audio expert later analyzed a tape of the call and concluded it was definitely the seller trying to bark like a puppy.

Recurring Themes

Joining the list of people who received treatment after being assaulted only to discover they had an unrelated serious medical problem: While refereeing a recreational hockey game in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, in February, Dale Neudorf took a cross-check to the face so vicious that police went in search of the alleged attacker; a subsequent CAT scan revealed a brain tumor. In the same month a Manhattan doctor declared Jennifer Chow to have beaten thyroid cancer, which was spotted in October after a mugger nearly choked her to death.

People With Issues

Georgie Audean Buoy of the Dalles, Oregon, pleaded guilty to sex charges in February and was sentenced to three years in prison. Investigators said Buoy had confessed to having intercourse with a boy in her foster care during the summer of 2004, when he was 11 and she was 82.

Didn’t See This One Coming

On a TV talk show in February, Ali Gomaa, Egypt’s highest-ranking authority on Islamic law, endorsed a controversial fatwa by a prominent Cairo scholar declaring it religiously acceptable for a woman who has had premarital sex to undergo surgical hymen restoration–and thus, as the local Daily Star suggested, avoid possibly becoming the victim of an honor killing. In support of Gomaa’s position, another noted scholar said, “It is not rational for us to think that God has placed a sign to indicate the virginity of women without having a similar sign to indicate the virginity of men.”

Thinning the Herd

A 50-year-old man skating on Donner Lake in Truckee, California, fell through the ice and drowned in February. A contributing factor, authorities said, may have been that his skates weren’t fastened securely enough to the two-foot-tall stilts he was wearing.

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