Lead Story

In May the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a lower-court decision dismissing Richard Overton’s $10,000 1991 lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch for false advertising. Overton had said he suffered physical and mental injury as well as emotional distress because the implicit promises in the company’s advertisements, especially of success with women, were not fulfilled when he drank their product. Besides, he sometimes got sick when he drank.

Last Days of the Planet

Dayton, Ohio, government officials warned the Spirit of Life Christian Center in May that its upcoming immoral-book burning could not take place because the municipal pollution-control permit allowed it to burn only clean, dry wood.

According to statistics compiled by the Los Angeles Daily News and released in May, 46 percent of convicted sex offenders in California, including 20 percent of convicted rapists, are sentenced either to probation or to terms of less than a year in county jails. The average prison term for the other 54 percent of sex offenders is three and a half years.

In January New York progun advocate Gerald Preiser responded to money-for-guns trade-in programs by offering felons 200 rounds of ammunition in exchange for their old pairs of sneakers. Said Preiser, “The chosen footwear of our criminal subculture are sneakers, which facilitate quick getaways after predatory acts.”

Plans for a $500 million resort south of Los Angeles–a luxury hotel and 394 expensive homes built on an unspoiled bluff–were halted in January when the federal government found a colony of 39 tiny Pacific pocket mice. The mice were thought to have been made extinct by the encroaching city and its cats.

Four naked university students and 20 other people marched through the streets in Patna, India, in February to protest the new General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

On May 11 two death-row inmates were executed in Varner, Arkansas, and Department of Corrections officials said they were considering scheduling more multiple executions because they save money on preparations and overtime pay and cause less stress to employees. Said the department’s Alan Ables, “Nobody wants to get up in the morning and go kill somebody.”

Actress Judy Geeson was playing a chain-smoking woman with great vigor in the play Faith Healer at a New Haven, Connecticut, theater in April when a man in the audience stood up and said, “This is disgraceful. You’re going to kill yourself with the amount you smoke.” He walked out, yelling that anyway smoking was prohibited in the theater.

Notoriously reckless Israeli drivers kill 500 people a year on that nation’s highways (an average of about 35 die each year in skirmishes with Palestinians). In December Tel Aviv advertising agency head Zeev Lichtenzon erected posters around town boldly chastising Israeli drivers with the message: Research Proves: Drivers Who Get Rowdy on the Road Have Small Penises. Said Lichtenzon, “Men love their cars here more than their women.” According to a New York Newsday columnist in February, another Israeli billboard reads, Research Shows: Too Fast on the Road, Too Fast in Bed, and features a protruding tube that periodically spurts white foam.

Among the recent uses for bar codes developed by the Intermec division of Litton Industrial Automation: bar codes on salmon produced at a hatchery in Washington State to help researchers track mating behaviors; bar codes on moths in Costa Rica to help researchers compile a large data base; and bar codes on honeybees in Arizona (the bees are refrigerated so that they’re sufficiently tranquilized when the bar codes are shellacked to their backs).

In April officials at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, asked the city to remove a fire hydrant from the yard in which its camel, Tomoloc, is housed. The camel’s would-be mate died last year, and “Tommy” has turned his attentions to the hydrant, rubbing against it vigorously at all hours. Said keeper Julie Fritz, “If it’s during public hours I just go hide somewhere. What can I say? The camel doesn’t have a life.”

The Japan Times reported in January that Osaka, the country’s second-largest city, plans to build a giant vacuum cleaner to suck up the automobile exhaust that has made the city unpleasant. Giant fans would suck the air into underground filtering ducts three feet in diameter.

John Luckett, 70, collapsed and died of a heart attack after too vigorously heckling gun-control activist Sarah Brady during an April speech in Middletown, Ohio.

In a May interview with the Washington Times Martha Burk, creator of the Washington, D.C., Feminist Faxnet, said she was disappointed that President Clinton had nominated Stephen Beyer to the U.S. Supreme Court. “I believe there are many qualified women, that the Supreme Court should be 50 percent women.” (The Supreme Court has nine members.)

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