Great white hype

The environmental minister of Cape Jervis (near Adelaide), Australia, has been waging a campaign to stop a tour-boat operator from ferrying visitors to the remains of a dead whale. Officials got wind of the trips from a participant's home video. The tourists have been allowed to stand on the whale and watch great white sharks munch off its carcass; some folks even have posed for photos petting the preoccupied sharks on the head (briefly). The "appalled" environmental minister said he is seeking public support for new legislation "to protect people too stupid to protect themselves."

Strike up the bandana

Detroit police arrested five suspects in connection with the robbery of a McDonald's restaurant in June, shortly after they made their attempted getaway by car. One member of the quintet tried to discard a bandana he had used to hide his face by tossing it out the window. The bandana inadvertently snagged on the radio antenna and acted as an identifying flag for police chasing the car. ... And Elizabeth McDonald, 24, pleaded no contest in June to robbing the VFW hall in Medina County, Ohio, where she used to work. She was wearing a mask, but it did not disguise her waist-length red hair, which was instantly recognizable by at least one former co-worker.

Just kidding

A ruling last year by the Oregon Supreme Court is now having a major negative impact on police, according to a July Los Angeles Times report. The court had ruled that all lawyers, including prosecutors, must obey the state bar association's nearly absolute prohibitions against deceit. That means law enforcement cannot legally engage in "undercover" and "sting" operations which involve tricking suspects. Already, one child-pornography investigation has been shut down because prosecutors could not go forward with a case in which police -- pretending online that they were underage -- caught a pedophile.

Dog-gone inflation

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in July that the new dog catcher for San Mateo County will be paid $250,000 a year, more than twice what San Francisco's dog catcher receives and much more than Gov. Gray Davis or San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown are paid. Said a county executive, "I hope we have the happiest and healthiest animals in the world because that's an awfully heavy price to pay."

Experience counts

Sherman P. Hawkins' impressive application for the vacant position of director of the Montana Department of Corrections was turned down in July by the governor, despite Hawkins' master's degree in administration and 28 years' experience in the corrections' department. As the governor noted, the only problem with Hawkins' three decades of service is that they have been as an "inmate." He is serving a life sentence for murdering his wife.

Brew haha

In July, a man who has previously served time for fatal bombings was convicted of attempting to firebomb three Montreal coffee shops because the owner refused to give them French names. ... Three New Mexico regulators reported receiving death threats in May during the Public Regulation Commission's deliberations over whether to change the telephone area codes in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Whatever's my line?

In June, the Ontario Court of Appeal reinstated DUI charges against Christopher Dominski, finding that his right to be notified that he can have an attorney present under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was not violated. According to court records, when a police officer asked if he would like to call an attorney, Dominski responded, "Yeah, whatever," which a trial court thought indicated ambiguity. The appeals court, however, ruled that both question and answer were in accord with the standards of law.

Blown for a loss

In June, the education commissioner of Berlin, Germany, publicly suggested that the professional soccer league bar its players from the practice of spitting on the field and the increasingly popular habit of clearing a nostril by pressing a finger against the opposite nostril and blowing. The commissioners said that such behavior sends the wrong message to kids. Several players immediately defended their right to blow: Said one, "We can't carry a packet of hankies on the pitch."

Out of this world

Strongsville, Ohio, lawyer Daniel Todt killed his wife and two children in June, just as the government was closing in on him for what prosecutors described as a series of outlandish attempted frauds. The Todts (both lawyers) were a traditional, middle-class family except for one thing: Todt believed that -- back in the 1940s -- Mr. Thor De Allah Kahn from the planet Atlantis left him "securities" to improve the planet's welfare. The certificates were in staggering amounts, ranging from

$13 billion to $33 billion. Todt very earnestly tried to present the securities to banks in several countries for payment, continuing even after U.S. Treasury officials warned him they were worthless.

Rattle me timbers

After an emergency airlift for treatment, a man in Quincy, Ill., survived an "attack" by an already-dead (but venom-retaining) timber rattlesnake that "bit" him while the clumsy man was mounting the carcass on a board to keep as a souvenir.