Lead Stories

In September the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that, because the Georgia constitution prohibits judges from banishing people from the state as punishment, judges banish them from 158 of the state’s 159 counties. The remaining county–Echols County, between Valdosta and the Okefenokee Swamp–is so desolate that most criminals refuse to live there and wind up leaving the state.

Most of North America may be worrying about anthrax contamination, but last month the Ontario health ministry cut costs by replacing its five biohazard scientists with three lab technicians educated at community colleges.

Urban Legends Come to Life

In April the official newspaper of the People’s Republic of China reported that a company in Nanchang had illegally harvested the kidneys of convicted killer Fu Xinrong after his execution….Last month a man walked into a Porsche dealership in Palo Alto, California, and convinced an employee that he was the owner of the $125,000 Turbo 996 that was scheduled to be picked up 20 minutes later….And in July two men in Corpus Christi, Texas, pleaded guilty to hunting coyotes on federal land by baiting fishing poles with deer meat and reeling in the coyotes.

Rights and Privileges

A judge on Ontario’s superior court ruled in May that spouses have no legal duty to inform each other of their adulterous affairs. A 52-year-old man had sued his estranged wife for about $210,000 (U.S.) for breaching her duty of “good faith” and “honesty” by concealing her affairs for 21 years, but according to the judge a spouse has no obligation to come clean unless “hazardous” extramarital sex subjects the other spouse to health risks.

Trouble in the Workplace

In July, London’s Daily Telegraph reported a job opening for a knife thrower’s assistant at the Austen Electric Circus in Exeter, England. The assistant to knife thrower Jayde Hanson had walked off the job after nearly being hit in the foot, which would have been her third serious wound this season. Hanson’s former girlfriend sustained three injuries in the job before quitting last year.

In August municipal clerk Anne Frank sued the city of Greenwich, Connecticut, for uncompensated overtime; according to the suit, her boss had carried on an affair with his secretary for 11 years, which took up so many office hours that the secretary’s work was passed down to Frank to be completed.

People Different From Us

In May the police blotter of the Leonard Graphic (a weekly paper in Leonard, Texas, 35 miles north of Dallas) reported that “a man claiming to be a medical student was charged with theft of service and given a trespass warning after it was discovered he lied about his reasons for being in the local nursing home two months ago. He told aides there he had permission from the home to ‘live the life of the patient’ and be bathed and diapered as part of a learning experience. However, when he returned to try the scam again on April 17, police were waiting for him. He was found to be a registered sex offender living in Melissa [Texas].”

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Last month six men were indicted in New York City for operating a drug ring, which came to the attention of firefighters and then police after one of the men refused to evacuate his apartment across the street from the World Trade Center on September 11, despite fires, falling debris, and widespread panic. A search of the apartment uncovered a large supply of drugs and paraphernalia.

Undignified Deaths

This past July in Jacksonville, Florida, an elderly man was accidentally struck and killed by a fire truck that had been dispatched to take him to a hospital….The next month a 41-year-old man ejected from a bar in Fort Worth, Texas, was accidentally struck and killed by a sheriff’s patrol car responding to the bar’s call for help….And in September a 52-year-old woman in Middleburg, Virginia, was accidentally struck and killed by a friend driving to help her after a bee had stung her and she had fallen from her horse.

In the Last Month

A mother in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, frustrated that a Sallie Mae loan office would not believe that her debtor-son was deceased, mailed in his cremation certificate and two teaspoons of his ashes, which not only failed to satisfy the office but caused an anthrax panic….In Pikeville, Kentucky, descendants of the 19th-century Hatfields and McCoys resumed their feud in court when the McCoys sued for access to a cemetery controlled by the Hatfields….Dublin model Julian Fallon was awarded about $8,500 after a second-floor rehearsal studio collapsed and left her straddling a beam, with disfiguring nail wounds in her derriere….And in Bloomington, Indiana, deputies subdued a man after a ten-minute shootout that he blamed on irritability following a long bout of constipation.

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