OUR LITIGIOUS SOCIETY
In July, a California appeals court reinstated police officer Enrique Chavez’s lawsuit against the Austrian gun manufacturer Glock for its “unsafe” design. Chavez is now paralyzed from the waist down because his three-year-old son got hold of the gun and accidentally fired it, hitting his dad. Chavez, in violation of police policies, had left the gun loaded underneath the front seat of his car, and his son, whom Chavez had not belted into a child seat, was free to explore while Dad drove. The gun is regarded as of safe design by dozens, if not hundreds, of police departments, and the LAPD disciplined Chavez over the incident.
DEMOCRACY IN ACTION
Didier Peleman, 41, is a major-party candidate for the city council in Ghent, Belgium, and, like most, has champions and detractors. Though he has been active in “community work” for 11 years, Peleman is candid about a mental disability that noticeably slows down his speaking and writing and which some voters fear impedes his reasoning ability. His Flemish Christian Democrats Party said it is important that people with disabilities challenge constraints.
SOUTHERN BUDGET TROUBLES
A July battle in the House of Representatives pitted austerity-driven members striving to cut $72 million in spending on NASCAR against North Carolina House members determined to keep the money in. (Most NASCAR teams are headquartered in the state, as is the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Hall of Fame.) More than a third of the money would go to the National Guard for sponsoring driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. The North Carolina legislators believe military recruitment will suffer unless the race-car connection is maintained.
In July a 30-year-old man suspected of skipping out on a bar bill at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manchester, N.H., did not make it far. As he tried to hop an iron fence, he impaled his leg and eventually required eight firefighters to rescue him using hydraulic cutting tools. And Greyston Garcia, 26, who was cleared of murder charges in January under Florida’s “stand your ground” defense (even though he had chased the victim more than a block to stab him to death after the man took his radio), was inadvertently killed in June by random gang gunfire in Miami.
Csanad Szegedi, a member of the European Parliament representing the anti-Semitic Jobbik Party of Hungary (a party whose presidential candidate described Jews as “lice-infested”), resigned in August after admitting that he had learned two years earlier that his own mother was (and therefore he is) a Jew. Initially, Szegedi tried to quash the revelation via bribery but eventually resigned, apologized, and vowed to pay respects at Auschwitz.
FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS
Third World teenagers often must deal with conscription, sweatshop labor and life as street beggars, but in affluent New York City (according to a June report in The New York Times), a major anxiety of teen and almost-teen girls is having to endure sleepaway summer camp with hairy legs. Said celebrity makeup designer Bobbi Brown, “If she’s going to be in a bunk with all these girls,” and “insecure” about lip or leg hair, “You do whatever you can do to make her feel good.” Seemingly drawing on the Times story, Uni K Waxing of New York City announced a July-only special–with girls 15 and under receiving a 50 percent discount on bikini-waxing.
THE NEWS IS GRIM IN AFRICA, TOO
From a July report on NewZimbabwe.com (motto: “The Zimbabwe News You Trust”): On July 11, as many as 26 women in two villages presided over by Chief Njelele of Gokwe awoke missing their panties, which were later found in a heap down the road, with 17 pairs “positively identified” by the victims. Just as the chief was making arrangements to bring in a “prophet” to find the evil local “wizard,” a huge owl swooped down a few feet away and carried off a dog. “It’s mind-boggling what’s going on in the area,” the chief said.