Lead Story

In March eight Connecticut legislators and almost three dozen other guests got diarrhea and stomach cramps from eating food at a reception sponsored by lobbyists for the Connecticut Food Association. Meanwhile, a legislator in Maine introduced a bill to force lobbyists on duty in the statehouse to wear oversize name tags that are bright orange like deer hunters’ vests.

Science Fair

Twins Timothy and Celeste Keys were born in New Orleans recently–Timothy on October 15 and Celeste on January 18. Doctors believe this time gap between twins is unprecedented. A week before Celeste was born a girl named Elisabetta was born in Rome–about two years after her mother died. The mother’s preserved embryo had been implanted in the womb of Elisabetta’s aunt.

In a January issue of the journal Nature London researchers explained that sex causes female fruit flies to die young. Fruit fly sperm contains an additive that causes the female to lose interest in sex for a while (to give the sperm a head start at fertilization before she mates again), but it’s also associated with early mortality.

The New York Times reported in January that some dermatologists who are dissatisfied with injecting collagen to ease forehead wrinkles have turned to a solution of the toxin that causes botulism. The treatment, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, paralyzes the muscles that pull down the eyebrows, thus easing the wrinkles. And doctors at a Palm Springs, California, cancer center reported in December that a derivative of mistletoe has been their most effective treatment in cases of advanced lung cancer.

A report in a January issue of the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that a woman’s chronic heel pain was caused by an accumulation of dog hairs embedded in the skin over the Achilles tendon, produced by years of rubbing her Scottish terrier with her bare heel.

A medical journal reported in September that a 28-year-old man had been saved from death in his fall from a seven-story building recently in Toronto because he landed on a signpost and was impaled. The steel post pierced his back and protruded about six inches out of his chest near the armpit. According to doctors, the man received “minimal injuries” and suffered no permanent impairments.

A study in the November issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology evaluated females in four body positions to find out which was the most effective in keeping them from wetting their pants. Findings: It’s good to stand with crossed legs.

Latest Rights

In January the European Commission of Human Rights agreed to investigate the case of three British men who were convicted of assault for participating in various sadomasochistic sex acts. Britain’s highest court, the House of Lords, upheld a trial court’s ruling that consent is not a defense in cases involving bodily harm.

In February at a Veterans Administration facility in Jackson, Mississippi, Navy veteran Michael Martin received a taxpayer-funded penile implant to cure his impotence. Martin had been released from prison ten months earlier after serving four years for molesting two young girls. Said Martin, “My only wish for the future is that I be allowed my rights under the constitution to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In Denver in October federal judge Edward Nottingham ruled that imprisoned kidnapper Robert James Howard should be allowed to practice certain rituals associated with his religion, satanism, and that the prison should perhaps furnish Howard with a robe and incense. One of the rituals is a “destruction ritual,” during which, Howard explains, he envisions the death of an enemy and then convinces himself, he would hope, not to carry out the killing.

In September the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a Montreal man was entitled to a new trial on the sexual assault charge brought against him for attacking a 65-year-old woman in a wheelchair. The court said the man was entitled to show that he should be acquitted because he was so intoxicated that he did not understand what he was doing. A few weeks later in Alberta a man was acquitted of assaulting his wife based on the ruling.

In December New York state representative Michael Nozzolio told reporters that the state spends $700,000 a year on estrogen for 87 male prison inmates who want to become female. State law establishes a right to the hormone treatments if the person was receiving them before he was imprisoned. Some legislators fear that indigent transsexuals may be committing crimes in order to receive free treatments.

Least Competent Criminals

In March a man with a gun burst into a building in Columbia, Tennessee, that had formerly been a bank, and rushed up to the area where the tellers’ counters had been located. However, the bank had relocated six months earlier, and the building now houses an insurance company, two of whose employees were on duty. Asked the man, “Is this not a bank anymore?” He then escaped after robbing the two employees. And in New Jersey James J. Downes, 29, was arrested for attempting to rob the Sussex County State Bank in Vernon Township after he drew attention to himself by banging on the bank’s doors while wearing a mask a few minutes after the bank had closed for the day on April 1.

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