Chewing the fat of the lam

Louis Papakostas, 35, was sentenced to eight years in prison on drug charges in Corpus Christi, Texas, in May. He had been convicted way back in 1987 and had gone on the lam for nearly 15 years, but then he ran into his prosecutor at a restaurant in May. Apparently believing that authorities were not interested in him anymore, Papakostas decided to say a nostalgic hello to his old nemesis. At first the prosecutor didn't seem to remember Papakostas, so the convicted man jogged the prosecutor's memory. The prosecutor quickly notified police, and Papakostas was taken into custody.

Gates to riches

Uncontrolled crime -- including a murder rate eight times that of New York City -- and a huge disparity in wealth (most people either are fabulously rich or appallingly poor, with few in the middle) have sent almost all of the 1 million wealthiest residents of Sao Paulo, Brazil, scurrying to move into 300 gated communities. Many also travel the city exclusively by helicopter, according to a June Washington Post dispatch. About 4,000 people a year without access to a helicopter purchase armor-plated cars. One walled community (Alphaville) houses 30,000 people, protected by 1,100 armed guards who keep the grounds under constant surveillance and pat down maids and servants as they head home from work.

Wagering war

Israeli police announced in June that they were investigating reports that a syndicate in a town just north of Gaza was running daily betting pools in which gamblers could wager on the site of the next suicide bombing. The odds reportedly have ranged from 17-1 for the peaceful town of Eilat to 3-2 for Jerusalem. The syndicate's betting cards supposedly limit the action to attacks by Arabs on Jews.

Cat scram

The Correctional Service of Canada was recently rethinking its policy of permitting inmates to keep cats in their cells in two British Columbia prisons after several drug-sniffing dogs in the facility had gotten hurt tangling with the cats.

Open and shut case

A U.S. Court of Appeals panel has agreed with a lower court that a county judge in St. Louis, Mo., had unconstitutionally denied defendant Gary Moore the right to converse with his attorney during his burglary trial. The county judge, Philip Sweeney, had ordered the two to communicate only by passing notes back and forth, which was difficult for Moore, who has problems with the written language. Sweeney had said at the time, "There's very little that needs to be discussed during a trial."

Promise tweakers

In complaining to the State Department that the government often ignores a statute requiring it to help American workers who have been harmed by world trade, Deputy Secretary of Labor D. Cameron Findlay argued that the Trade Adjustment Assistance statute "is treated like a teen-age girl in the backseat of a car. You promise her anything to get what you want. And then when you get it, you leave her."

Powder to the people

Among recent comments accompanying the confessions of criminals: Jermarr Arnold, in an interview shortly before his execution in Huntsville, Texas, explaining his record of two murders and two dozen rapes, said, "Sometimes I feel paranoid and threatened, and I lash out. I'm not very good with people." Darnell C. Smith, moments after being sentenced to life in prison for murder in Minneapolis, told the victim's relatives, "I know I'm a piece of [expletive not reported by the local newspaper]. I have been all my life."And in Pattaya, Thailand, police Sgt. Major Charchai Suksiri, explaining why his wife of 25 years was still alive after he fired several shots at her and then several more later the same day in her hospital room: "Luckily, I ran out of bullets."

Duck and covered

Officials at California's Lawrence Livermore Laboratory decided that their brand-new, $62 million storage facility for low-level radioactive waste was not secure enough from terrorists and that until modifications were made, the waste would continue to be stored outside, underneath a tent. ... The U.N. World Food Summit, devoted to helping the 800 million people starving worldwide, opened in Rome with a luncheon of lobster, foie gras and goose stuffed with olives for the 3,000 limousine-using delegates. ... New Scientist magazine reported in April that a retired U.S. Army researcher's study has found that African-American girls are now reaching puberty as young as the age of 8. The reason, the researcher says, is the excessive hormones being manufactured in shampoos marketed specifically for black people, such as B&B Super Gro.