RIGHTS AND WRONGS
(1) In April, a high official of the European Union called for member-nations to subsidize “vacations” for seniors, the disabled and those too poor to afford one. Said Commissioner (for enterprise and industry) Antonio Tajani, “Traveling for tourism today is a right.” (2) In April, the town of Olathe, Kansas, became the second city in two years to settle lawsuits filed by citizens who were arrested for flashing their middle fingers at police officers, thus appearing to acknowledge that flipping the bird contemptuously at a cop is expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment. (Philadelphia paid out $50,000; Olathe, one-sixteenth the size, paid out $5,000.)
BREAST OF THE STORY
Michelle Taylor, 34, was sentenced in Elko, Nevada, in April to life in prison, solely for the crime of forcing a 13-year-old boy to touch her breasts, twice. The sentence was mandatory under a certain state law, but, said her lawyer, “She is getting a greater penalty…than if she killed [the boy].” She could be eligible for parole after 10 years.
Baltimore County (Maryland) Judge Darrell Russell Jr., presiding over a March domestic violence case in which the woman obviously had changed her mind about blaming the boyfriend, performed the couple’s marriage ceremony in his chambers after temporarily halting the boyfriend’s trial. Earlier, Judge Russell had informed the woman that she could not refuse to testify based on “marital privilege” because she and the boyfriend were not married. Consequently, as the trial started, she asked the judge to marry them. After the ceremony, she was then granted the “marital privilege,” and the judge dismissed the charge for lack of evidence. (Russell has now been reassigned to less important cases.)
INVESTING IN THE STALK MARKET
Justin Massler, 27, charged with criminal stalking of 28-year-old businesswoman-heiress Ivanka Trump, was released on bail in New York City in April but explained to a New York Daily News reporter that he intended to alter his approach. Instead of imposing himself on Trump, he said he would “become like a big-time millionaire, real estate mogul, so that she’s the one who contacts me.”
Schools’ conventional “zero tolerance” policies prohibiting guns or weapons on campus not only apply (as they have recently) to drawings of guns and to a 2-inch-long toy charm in the shape of a gun, but, at an Ionia, Michigan, school, to making the familiar, thumb-up hand representation of a gun, for which Mason Jammer, 6, was suspended in March.
Erlyndon Joseph Lo, 27 and a graduate of Southern Methodist University law school, was arrested in April after threats against a Dallas women’s clinic that performs abortions. Police were tipped the day before when Lo appeared at the federal courthouse in Plano, Texas, and sought a formal judicial ruling that would protect him from harm, even if he were to use deadly force “to defend the innocent life of another human being.”
In April, outdoing the recent partisan spats in the U.S. Congress, several dozen members of the Ukrainian parliament squared off over a cooperation-with-Russia bill that eventually involved headlocks, punching, a smoke bomb, glue (in the voting machines) and cartons of eggs tossed at the speaker’s platform. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev called it the chamber’s “traditional elegance.”
GIVE HIM THE GAS CHAMBER
Sweden’s Metro newspaper reported in March that a 21-year-old inmate at Kirseberg prison in Malmo faces discipline for continuing his protests against jail conditions by aiming his flatulence directly at guards.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN WASHINGTON?
Federal agents in April uncovered an elaborate bestiality ring (involving horses) in Washington state. Facility operator Douglas Spink is suspected of using the site to make pornographic videos, and a visitor from England was arrested as a suspected paying customer. This farm is near Bellingham, Washington, and the operation is completely separate from the 2005 raid on a similar facility near Enumclaw, Washington (about 110 miles away), in which one man died of a perforated colon following penetrative sex by a horse. The state had no specific anti-bestiality law in 2005, but one was enacted after the Enumclaw episode.
(1) Clair Arthur Smith, 42, of Cape Coral, Florida, was charged with forgery in May after he allegedly tried to doctor the amount of a check he had received from Bank of America. Converting the $10 check to $100, or even $100,000, would seem plausible, but Smith tried to deposit the check into his account after he had marked it up to $269,951. (2) A 17-year-old was arrested in College Station, Texas, in January and charged with trying to pass a homemade $5 bill at a restaurant. Police said the bill’s front and back had been computer-scanned and then pasted together but that the front of the bill was longer than the back.