Lion hunters kill without Simba-thy

A Tucson, Ariz., international big-game-hunting organization recently pressured the government of Botswana to lift its ban on shooting at the rapidly dwindling lion population, with help from three of the group's highest-profile members: former President George Bush, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and former Vice President Dan Quayle. According to a leading Botswana conservationist, rich hunters (safaris cost $20,000 to $35,000) create even further attrition by demanding to kill only mature males, because of their bushy manes, leaving lairs unprotected from other lions. Said the conservationist (to London's The Guardian): "There's no reason to shoot a lion other than ego. As a hunter you want to feel great so you can hang it on the wall and your mates say, 'Wow, what a man!'"

Sick making

Recent Too-Cute Diagnoses: "Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome" (a strong urge to stay out late, followed by an inability to wake up on time, according to Dr. Michael Thorpy, a sleep-disorders specialist interviewed for an April New York Observer report) and "Pseudologia Fantastica" (a condition doctors offered up to a judicial disciplinary commission in May as a medical explanation for why Los Angeles Judge Patrick Couwenberg had padded his resume with tall tales).

Pot luck

An increasing number of Cambodians in the northern Dangrek Mountains are trekking to the gravesite of the dictator Pol Pot (who presided over the murders of a million people during the 1970s) because they say that communing with his spirit brings them good luck and, in some cases, winning lottery numbers, according to a June New York Times dispatch.

Noxious treatment

Scotland Yard was called to investigate a citizen complaint against a police officer who purposely broke wind while investigating a crime scene (Chingford, Essex, England, in June). And a misdemeanor convict was fined about $100 (U.S.) for purposely breaking wind inside a police station (Werribee, Australia, in June). And Drew Shintani, 35, was charged with stabbing a 30-year-old co-worker because he was tired of the co-worker's laughing at Shintani's flatulence problem (Hilo, Hawaii; in April). And two men, aged 49 and 64, were arrested at a ShopRite store for harassing customers with cans of an aerosol spray that sounded and smelled like someone breaking wind (Washington Township, N.J., in May).

Court in the act

A state judicial board's fact-finding panel concluded in April that Los Angeles County Judge Patrick Murphy was not entitled to the 400 days sick leave he has taken since 1996 and that he was merely malingering while being paid $130,000 a year to be a judge. Murphy said he was plagued with various maladies, including a phobia for the job of judging, and that's why he had left the country and enrolled as a full-time medical student in Dominica while still on the public payroll.

No doubling back

New Mexico District Judge Stephen Bridgforth ruled in March against a new trial for Joseph Montoya, 22, leaving him to serve the 20-year sentence he was given in a 1999 shooting death, despite the subsequent confession (backed by a polygraph) by Montoya's twin brother, Jeremy, that it was he who committed the crime. The judge reasoned that, while several witnesses freely admitted they were confused about which one of the Montoya brothers fired the shots, the jury decided it was Joseph, and that was that.

A lowdown, dirty download

According to police in Wethersfield, Conn., Richard Levitt, 42, secretly videotaped himself having sex with a girlfriend and decided to post the video on the Internet, which caused problems when the girlfriend found out, and more problems when a second Levitt girlfriend found out, and even more problems when Mrs. Levitt found out. (The girlfriends met and together confronted Levitt and his wife at home at 2 a.m. on March 25.) Levitt was arrested for disseminating voyeuristic materials.

Won't get schooled again

Prison officials in Australia told reporters in May that they would review their procedures after they found out that convicted mass murderer Julian Knight (who killed seven and wounded 17 in Melbourne in 1987) had earned a behind-bars college degree in military strategy and weapons systems. One official acknowledged that the curriculum Knight chose might conflict with the rehabilitation goals the prison had set out for him.

Blight work

In April in Chicago, IBM acknowledged it had authorized an on-the-street advertising campaign (for the Linux computer operating system) that involved the defacing of sidewalks with graffiti at 100 locations around the city. The 20-year-old man hired to paint all the hearts and smiling penguins was arrested, and municipal officials said IBM would be liable for cleanup costs. An IBM spokeswoman admitted the campaign "got a little carried away."

Nipped in the bud

Also, in the last month, two men were arrested for selling marijuana from a neighborhood ice-cream truck, after drawing the attention of police because the only customers in line were adults (Brooklyn, N.Y.). And a 17-year-old boy on a bicycle was arrested after robbing a Taco Bell via the drive-thru window, having been hampered in his getaway by his decision to wait around until an employee could fix him a chalupa and put it into the money bag (Fort Worth, Texas).


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