American gangsters traditionally use euphemisms and nicknames (“Chin,” “The Nose”) to disguise criminal activities, but among details revealed at a November murder trial in Sydney, Australia, was that members of the “Brothers 4 Life” gang might have used “pig latin.” In a phone-tapped conversation played in court, one of the men on trial was overheard cunningly telling a henchman that a colleague had been “caught with the un-gay in the ar-kay.” A helpful witness then took the stand to explain to the jury that the defendant thus knew there was “a gun in the car.” At press time, the trial was still in progress.
An “academic” paper composed entirely of gibberish was accepted for a lecture at the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics in Atlanta last month. Prof. Christoph Bartneck of New Zealand’s University of Canterbury said he began writing (using Apple iOS) by entering “atomic” and “nuclear” into his tablet and “randomly” following whatever “autocomplete” suggestions emerged. (Sample sentence: “The atoms of a better universe will have the right for the same as you are the way we shall have to be a great place…” Conclusion: “Power is not a great place for a good time.”)
TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!
Divorcing couples who cannot decide who gets to keep a treasured family home leave the decision to a judge, and in October, a court in Moscow ordered a couple to build a brick wall dividing in two their expensive house in an elite neighborhood. Apparently contractors’ measurements have been taken, and the couple has assumed dominion over their respective areas, even to the extent that a friend of the wife had become “trapped” on the husband’s side and prevented from leaving until she called emergency services. Furthermore, the wife must have a second stairway built, as the existing one is on the husband’s side.
DARWIN’S LAW, IN ACTINO
A 23-year-old man in Tampa, Florida, was hanging out with his cousin in September, and nearby were a gun and a bulletproof vest–and the result was predictable. According to police, the first man donned the vest and said he wondered whether it “still worked”; the cousin picked up the gun and said, “Let’s see.” The cousin, Alexandro Garibaldi, 24, was charged with manslaughter.
TEXAS DA JAILS RAPE VICTIM BECAUSE TEXAS
Judges can issue “material witness” warrants to lock up innocent people to ensure their trial testimony, but rarely do it to actual crime victims. In December 2015, the Houston, Texas, district attorney obtained such a warrant jailing a rape victim (“Jenny”) to secure her testimony against a serial rapist she could identify, because Jenny, exceptionally fragile, was hesitant. She finally took the stand, and the rapist is now serving multiple life terms, but Jenny’s added trauma (especially since police mistakenly placed her into the jail’s general population instead of a separate wing) provoked her to file a lawsuit against the DA, which is still in progress. And in November, likely to Jenny’s satisfaction, the DA, Devon Anderson, failed re-election.
MOUTH-TO-MOUTH MAYBE SAVES CARP!
In November, an 18-year-old man who allegedly tried to steal koi carp fish from a holding tank (pending their return to a pond at Castle Park in Colchester, England) botched the job, resulting in the deaths of most of them, including some of the oldest and most visitor-friendly of the species. Park rangers managed to rescue several, and one ranger even gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to three carp. (A biologist told BBC News that carp are noted for surviving on low oxygen and might not have needed the mouth-to-mouth.)
MORE SPERM WARS
Most couples who create embryos to freeze for the future agree that the consent of both is required for actual use. Two former couples are on opposite sides of the issue: Actor Sofia Vergara’s ex-boyfriend wants their embryo brought to term (but she does not), and Missouri woman Jalesia McQueen wants two she created with then-husband Justin Gadberry brought to term (but he does not). In the latter case, an appeals court ruled for Gadberry in November (though the couple already have two children from frozen embryos). In the Vergara case, the ex, Nick Loeb, is trying for an extraordinary court ruling based on his “inability to otherwise procreate” (since two subsequent girlfriends adamantly chose abortions).
CHIMPS HAVE RIGHTS, TOO
The debate over whether animals have “rights” enforceable by judges took a sharp turn upward in November when a judge in Argentina ordered the reluctant Mendoza Zoo to release a chimpanzee (Cecilia) to a sanctuary in Brazil because the zoo had denied her the “right” to animal “essence”–to socialize with other chimps (since her last two playmates had died more than two years earlier). Mendoza Zoo was heavily criticized following the death last summer of Arturo, dubbed the “world’s saddest polar bear,” since he had suffered an even worse fate, with no playmates for 22 years. n