The man convicted of blowing up the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people, lives in relative luxury in a private four-room suite in Glasgow's Barlinnie prison, according to a November report in Britain's News of the World. Abdelbaset al Megrahi, who is serving a minimum 27-year sentence, has a color television, a VCR, a stereo, a personal computer, a kitchen, floral curtains, framed art and unlimited telephone access. A prison official said the man must be isolated because of the nature of his crime, but that Barlinnie had a limited choice of such facilities.
Follow your nose
In October, about $450,000 worth of marijuana plants were discovered in a downtown Chicago apartment after police noted an overpowering scent that wafted the length of the building's hallway. They arrested a Navy Pier worker and five students, one of whom voluntarily answered the police knock to inadvertently reveal marijuana plants covering almost every surface in the front room as well as one room air freshener, which an occupant had optimistically placed near the door.
File under 'superfluous'
Britain's Industrial Christian Fellowship of religious scholars complained in September that people's prayers go disproportionately for teachers and nurses and said it would distribute a set of prayers for the underblessed financial sector under the heading, "When did you last pray for your stockbroker?"
In November, the Saudi government set new restrictions on the export of sand, fearing that the increased needs of its neighbors (due to the reconstruction of Iraq and Bahrain's reclamation projects in the Persian Gulf) will create a shortage.
Big brass ones
Joseph Tomaino of Neptune, N.J., won $3 million from a jury because a side effect of penile surgery was an erection that lasted for three days, which an appeals court later found did not interfere with most of his daily activities. The trial judge, who wanted to give Tomaino even more money, had the case taken away from him by the appeals court in November.
Passenger Ivette Jones, who said she was traumatized in the October Staten Island ferry collision and couldn't sleep because she was so distraught, filed a $200 million lawsuit against New York City, $80 million more than claimed by a woman who lost both legs in the accident.
Waiting for a rush-hour bus in East St. Louis, Ill., Emanual Fleming tried to use a pay phone but received a busy signal, then stuck his right middle finger into the coin-return slot but couldn't get it out. With his free hand, he called 911, and ambulance personnel had to take both Fleming and the telephone to the hospital, where, three hours after he got stuck, doctors numbed the finger and worked it out of the slot.
In November, the town of Bolinas, Calif., voted 314-152 to adopt the following ballot measure (the official wording): "Vote for Bolinas to be a socially acknowledged nature-loving town because to like to drink the water out of the lakes to like to eat the blueberries to like the bears is not hatred to hotels and motor boats. Dakar. Temporary and way to save life, skunks and foxes (airplanes to go over the ocean) and to make it beautiful." A San Francisco Chronicle reporter attributed the town's support for it to the fact that its sponsor, artist Jane "Dakar" Blethen, is a beloved, though eccentric, local character.
She's very fertile
Angela Bridges filed a lawsuit in June against the Washington County, Ga., Regional Medical Center and a doctor for failing to clean her wound properly. She fell into some shrubbery in her yard in 2002, cut her leg, and reported to the emergency room for cleaning and suturing. Nine months later, another physician found that a small boxwood twig, with five thriving green leaves, had broken through the sutured skin.
But it's a thrilling field trip
An August Boston Globe story deglamourized Plymouth Rock, supposedly where the first pilgrims stepped in 1620 as they disembarked near what is now Plymouth, Mass. It's just a large rock, kept in an open pen, and was named by TV's Learning Channel as one of America's 10 lamest landmarks.
The honor system
In October, North Korea's official news agency reported that Japan had broken a promise to return five people to North Korea. The five are Japanese citizens who were kidnapped by North Korea in 1978 but released to see their families in October 2002. North Korea's position is that they were released only temporarily and must be returned to North Korea.
Waiting for Br'er Rabbit
Police in Sandwich, Mass., are so far stumped why Daniel L. Kelleher, 48, was found covered head-to-toe with roofing tar, lying in a water-filled bathtub in a room at the Sandwich Motor Lodge on Nov. 11. Kelleher, a carpenter, apparently purchased the tar and caulking guns, and he had rented the same room a week earlier and left tar in the bathroom, but he has refused to answer detectives' questions.
Blame it on Dr. Atkins
An East St. Louis, Ill., man said he would plead guilty to his fourth shoplifting conviction in two years, each one involving grocery store pork products.
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