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The red-carpet treatment 


Despite a warning label reading "Do not use indoors because of flammability" on its carpet adhesive, the Para-Chem company was ordered by a jury in Akron, Ohio, in July to pay $8 million to two professional installers who were severely burned in an explosion when they tried to use the product indoors. One juror told the Akron Beacon Journal that he and his colleagues felt the warning did not go far enough in convincing the installers not to use the product indoors.

Pissed-off and pissed-on

Shemuel Nahum Ben Yisrael (formerly, James Christopher) filed a $10 million lawsuit in June against the city of Beaufort, S.C., and its mayor, police and sheriff's department, for an unlawful arrest in 2000 and for generally harassing him. According to the police chief in Yisrael's hometown of nearby Yemassee, Yisrael keeps buckets of paint and urine handy at his home so that, when law enforcement officers come for one of their frequent arrests of him (mostly for trespassing), he can douse himself so as to make the officers' jobs harder.

Precedent for presidents

According to an Agence France-Presse report of a United Nations officials' meeting with Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe in April (concerning how undemocratic the country's last election was), Mugabe allegedly exploded when scolded by a U.S. representative: "Well," said Mugabe, "I don't think George Bush won the U.S. election, but I accept (it)."

Research grunts

A paper by psychologist Michel Lariviere for Correctional Services of Canada concluded in May that most guards don't respect inmates (which inhibits rehabilitation efforts). Also in May, a $4 million study by University of Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions revealed that employees are much more likely to call in sick if they have drunk alcohol the night before. And in June, a Harvard School of Public Health survey found that people report more noise and other disruptions in binge-drinking college neighborhoods than in other neighborhoods.

Mother tongue

Leslie Collard, 42, arrested in May in Providence, R.I., for offering an undercover officer a tandem prostitution deal that included her 19-year-old daughter, was asked before the arrest if that meant the mother and daughter would serve him at the same time. "No," she said (according to the officer), "I have morals, because she is my daughter. My daughter will do you first."

Dead in their tracts

The owners of Los Angeles' Westwood Village Memorial Park (resting place of Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and Frank Zappa) have asked the county to allow them to build a 463-casket mausoleum on formerly open space in the park that is very close to residential property, thus potentially disturbing both neighbors worried about spirits in their backyards and solemn park visitors, who may be exposed to screaming children and barbecue smoke.

Between the lines

Former Broward County (Fla.) librarian William Coday's online personal ad touts his multilingualism, world travels, compassion, and love of Keats and baroque music. The ad does not mention that he was convicted of murdering his 1978 and 1997 girlfriends, both with hammers, and that he is in jail awaiting a jury's decision whether he gets death for the latter crime.

All in the family

David and Guadalupe Mata were arrested in July in Fullerton, Calif., for allegedly chaining their 21-year-old daughter face up on her bed, to keep her away from the married man she had been seeing. In May, a mother and stepfather in Hamilton, Ohio, were charged with duct-taping her 12-year-old son to a lawn chair so he would get sunburned as punishment for sassing her. In Levitton, Pa., Gary and Kathleen Rabatin and their teen-age kids were charged with possession of marijuana in June, with the parents admitting pride that the kids smoke at home rather than on the street (and dope was found in every room in their house).

Count your chickens

In March, a 13-year-old boy in Lithonia, Ga., was struck and killed in the street while playing "chicken" with a neighbor driving a go-cart. A 17-year-old boy from Crescent City, Calif., was struck and killed in June while playing lie-down-on-the-highway "chicken" at 11:30 p.m. And in June, a 44-year-old woman was struck and killed by an Amtrak train in Little Rock, Ark., as she drove through a railroad crossing busily conversing on her cell phone.


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