In April, a judge in Ocala, Fla., sentenced a 27-year-old man to probation only for having sex with his then-girlfriend's Rottweiler (the man admitted that he had a "lifelong problem") and lamented that under state law, the man could not be forced to register as a sex offender, since the victim was a dog.
USDA: YOU CAN'T BEAT OUR MEAT
Although 50 countries, including Japan, have now banned American beef because of inadequate mad-cow controls, the U.S. Department of Agriculture not only has declined to order widespread testing but has even prohibited one farm, Creekstone, in Campbellsburg, Ky., from voluntarily testing cattle. USDA said such conscientious testing would imply that America's entire 35 million yearly slaughters should be tested, which the industry says is too expensive, even though Japan requires universal testing for its beef. USDA said it aims to test only 40,000 cows, up from 20,000 for the last two years, although it has been unable for nine months now to document those tests in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by United Press International.
SHAKING THE MONEY TREE
In May, California law firms asked a court to approve $258 million in fees for their handling of a class-action lawsuit against Microsoft Corp., amounting to $3,000 an hour for the lead attorney (who billed for 6,000 hours of his own time, even though three dozen lawyers from more than 30 firms had a piece of the case) and $1,000 an hour for administrative work, all for the following consumer bonanza: Each victim will get a coupon worth $5 to $29 toward the purchase of another Microsoft product (coupons that are often routinely ignored by consumers in these settlements, as not worth the bother).
Until March, Mr. Dayn Riegel and his girlfriend kept 77 cats in their house in Lawrenceville, Ga., but a Humane Society spokesman said he saw no problem, in that all appeared to be in good health and well-fed, and Riegel's home was clean (though filled with litter boxes). Riegel recorded each cat's history on a computer database, provided one packaged meal and one special meal a day for each and turned over 60 pounds of cat litter a week. During a recent move from the home, Riegel gave away just a few of the cats.
$20, BUS TICKET: NOT ENOUGH
According to police in Atlanta in January, Nathaniel Lee Stanley, 20, just released from jail, walked out and immediately carjacked a woman in the jail's parking lot and was later returned to jail. And Kelly J. Handy, 37, who posted bond on burglary charges in Wheat Ridge, Colo., in March, picked up the wig and clothing that had been taken from her on her arrest, went into a restroom, created a new look, and, according to police, immediately began stealing from mailboxes near the jail.
Norwegian activists Tommy Hol Ellingsen and his girlfriend, seeking new funding sources for the environmental movement, created a website earlier this year that charges visitors about $15 a month to view pornographic photos of the couple, with all profits to benefit environmental organizations (although some were reported ethically reluctant to accept their money). And in January, a 33-year-old British woman, "Vix," who has multiple sclerosis, created a website featuring topless photos of herself and asking visitors to donate to the UK's MS Resource Centre. (Business is slow on both sites: As of April, Ellingsen reported only 200 visitor-months, and Vix had raised the equivalent of $6,000 from about 100 of the site's 125,000 visitors.)
In Edinburgh, Scotland, bus drivers are apparently subjected to so much abuse that transit officials recently gave all 1,800 operators DNA-collecting kits so that they can swab themselves when passengers spit on them.
A TOUCHING IDEA
The Boston Herald reported in April that the Massachusetts Treatment Center, at which the state's pedophiles and rapists are housed, was using a controversial aversion therapy that some experts say includes providing convict-patients with illegal child pornography and forcing them to masturbate repeatedly, past the threshold of pain, in the belief that images of children will thus eventually become uninviting.
GOB IS IN THE DETAILS
After praising lawyer Brian Puricelli's courtroom work in winning a case for a client against the city of Philadelphia, federal Judge Jacob Hart cut Puricelli's loser-paid legal fees by $32,000 because his written work was sloppy, citing missing pages, missing paragraphs and a huge number of typos (such as repeatedly referring to the court as representing the "Easter District" of Pennsylvania). Further, Puricelli's work apparently did not improve during the trial despite numerous admonishings; in a key, three-sentence paragraph in his response to Hart's fee-cutting decision, Puricelli wrote four more typos and addressed his objection to Judge "Jacon" Hart.
Among the beach attractions on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten: bracing oneself in the sand at the beachat the end of the runway at Princess Juliana International Airport and trying to remain upright as airliners take off. (Jumbo jets' blasts have been knownto topple vans.) A March Chicago Tribune dispatch described the giddiness of several tourists (who defied posted warnings), one of whom was "tossed in theair like a human shot put." Said another man, slowly pulling himself to his feet after a takeoff, "I couldn't resist. (My wife and I) are both doing things we'd never do (back home) in Ohio."
John Parker and Rick Owens were arrested in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart in Athens, Texas, in April, after they were allegedly spotted by several people sitting in their car carefully cutting out individual counterfeit bills from larger sheets they had just printed. And Dennett Colescott, 41, was arrested at a drugstore in Corte Madera, Calif., in April after an employee reported to police that Colescott was standing at the store's photo printer, calmly copying child pornography.