Getting the love bug 


According to an April New York Times report, the purchase price in Japan of giant stag beetles has dropped recently to about $300 from a typical price in the early 1990s of about $6,000. The beetles, which resemble 4-inch-long cockroaches, are traditional Japanese pets that, according to insect salesman Katsutoshi Misaki, "have different personalities." Added Misaki, "When I hold it in my hand, I feel real affection for it." One breeder said a rare pet beetle sold in 1993 for about $30,000.

Shall we dunce?

The school board of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., voted in April to approve in principle a new, 600-pupil secondary school that would cater to students of average academic abilities and who avoid extracurricular activities. The board believes such students lose motivation when schooled alongside higher achievers. Said a school-district official, "This is going to require strong marketing."

Rash behavior

Recently retired Air Force Sgt. Charles O. Hamilton Jr. was arrested in Upper Marlboro, Md., in March allegedly attempting to enter a toddler's bedroom at night. Police believe Hamilton is the serial burglar who sneaks into houses at night, sometimes wearing a diaper under his pants, to observe and photograph young boys sleeping, sometimes after deftly removing their shorts and dressing them in diapers. A storage locker belonging to Hamilton was found to contain photos of his peeping handiwork, along with about a thousand diapers, some of them soiled, many with boys' names on them with photographs inside showing the named boy wearing the diaper.

Who's soiree now?

Lucia Kaiser filed a lawsuit in February against the Ohm restaurant in New York City, claiming that her 400-guest birthday party there in December (among the guests, Harry Belafonte and Quincy Jones) did not meet her expectations. The restaurant owner said it was a lovely party and that he fully complied with the contract, but Kaiser said she was so unfulfilled that she wants $30 million in damages.

Bra burned

Bra burned

In Belleville, Ill., Rochelle Chouinard sued booking agent Patricia Neuf for $227 for failing to supply a satisfactory stripper for her husband's 50th birthday party. Chouinard said she specifically asked for a woman with at least a 40-inch chest and who would do a nurse-like act, but received what she estimated to be a 36-A woman who merely did a traditional striptease. In February, a judge tossed out Chouinard's lawsuit.

Twice bitten

In Edwardsville, Ill., in February, Joseph Schrage filed a lawsuit against a local Pizza Hut for the "mental anguish" caused when he got a bad pizza one night in 1997. He said the pizza made him sick, but he offered no proof when he made his initial claim. The Pizza Hut manager said Schrage's experience hasn't driven him away: "He's still a current, regular customer. He comes in about twice a week."

In Edwardsville, Ill., in February, Joseph Schrage filed a lawsuit against a local Pizza Hut for the "mental anguish" caused when he got a bad pizza one night in 1997. He said the pizza made him sick, but he offered no proof when he made his initial claim. The Pizza Hut manager said Schrage's experience hasn't driven him away: "He's still a current, regular customer. He comes in about twice a week."

Caught off guard

In February, a jury in New Britain, Conn., awarded convicted rapist-murderer Kevin King, 27, more than $2 million in damages for injuries suffered when he tried to escape from prison in 1996. In that attempt, King had attacked a female guard with a homemade knife, then two other guards subdued King, causing some bruises and a cut, but also, according to his lawyer, causing him "anxiety" and "terror" that he would be further roughed up. King's lawyer had sought $20,000, but the six jurors saw fit to award 100 times that amount.

Nailed

Nailed

In San Francisco in January, Anthony Tyrone Davis, 42, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for smashing a woman with a hammer, so severely that he left a skull indentation in the shape of the hammer's head. The victim later married Davis and refused to testify against him, but he was convicted on a doctor's testimony and the 911 tape.

Karma crash

Karma crash

An unidentified middle-aged man was killed in Nairobi, Kenya, in March when he accidentally ran in front of a bus while escaping from the All Saints Cathedral, where he had just stolen the contents of collection plates.


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