Lead Stories

The March issue of Wired reports that two Germans have designed a computer game that inflicts physical punishment on the players. Painstation (not affiliated with Sony) is based on the old Pong game, but each player rests his left hand on a Pain Execution Unit; if he fails to return the ball to his opponent, it hits randomly arranged icons that administer “heat, punches and electroshocks of varying duration.” A player wins when his opponent lifts his hand off the PEU.

Earlier this month the Saskatoon StarPhoenix reported that female inmates undergoing methadone treatment for heroin addiction at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Saskatchewan routinely consume the fresh vomit of other inmates who are on methadone, because the vomit contains traces of the heroin substitute.

The Litigious Society

In January, Kaziah Hancock and Cindy Stewart won almost $300,000 in damages from a breakaway Mormon sect in Manti, Utah, after self-proclaimed prophet Jim Harmston persuaded Hancock to give the church 67 acres of land, promising to produce Jesus Christ himself in the flesh. According to Hancock, Harmston told her the church would provide her with a home, but made only one payment on it, ostensibly because God told him to renege.

Last December the Department of Justice applied to dismiss the lawsuit filed last year by Salah Idris of Saudi Arabia against President Clinton. Idris was owner of the Sudanese pharmaceutical plant that the U.S. misidentified as a bomb factory and destroyed with cruise missiles in 1998, in retaliation for terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Idris contends that the president ordered the attack to divert attention from his confession of having had “an improper relationship” with Monica Lewinsky.

Earlier this month a federal judge in Canada refused to quash the $2 million lawsuit filed by convicted murderer David Wild against the Mission Medium Security Institution in British Columbia. Wild claims the guards aren’t quiet enough when they do nighttime bed checks, making it impossible for him to get a good night’s sleep and causing him headaches, loss of balance, blurred vision, irritability, and depression, which have prevented him from competing in the prison’s soccer tournament.

Not My Fault

Harvey Taylor, a convicted sex offender wanted for parole violations in Florida, last month told reporters in Bangor, Maine, that he would sue the sheriff’s deputy who failed to arrest him after he fled into the woods, where he got lost in hip-deep snow for three nights and lost two toes to frostbite.

Earlier this month an Australian court awarded Paul Andrew Jackson about $31,000 in his suit against the provincial Roads and Traffic Authority. After drinking six beers, Jackson had stopped on a bicycle bridge in the dark to relieve himself and stepped over the guardrail, not realizing that he was 40 feet off the ground.

People Different From Us

Earlier this month a 39-year-old man in the medical examiner’s office of Cochise County, Arizona, was sentenced to a year and a half in prison for fondling and photographing the corpse of a 17-year-old girl.

Unclear on the Concept

Last December the German government proposed that pornographic Web sites be allowed to operate only between the hours of 11 PM and 6 AM (or in Chicago, 4 PM and 11 PM)….And the latest edition of the Albuquerque yellow pages inadvertently listed sex-oriented businesses under the categories for rape and incest counseling.

What’s in a Name

In February, Richard Bizarro was arrested for violating the FAA’s rule that passengers remain seated during flights to Salt Lake City for the winter Olympics. Bizarro is no relation to Joe Bizarro, spokesperson for Florida attorney general Bob Butterworth during the 2000 presidential election recount.

In the Last Month

In Jaipur, India, police arrested 81 bookmakers who had been offering bets on whether the Hindu-Muslim riots would spread to adjacent states, with over-under wagers on the number of casualties….According to Reuters, veterinarians in Jerusalem are prescribing Valium to dogs that suffer panic attacks because of the increased gunfire….In Great Britain the archbishop of Canterbury urged financially strapped parishes to rent out their buildings as part-time discos….And in West Rockhill Township, Pennsylvania, a man and woman pulled into a private driveway at seven in the morning to have sex, and police responding to a complaint found $11,000 worth of marijuana in their car.

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