China, Japan and Taiwan each claim ownership of the uninhabited South China Sea islands of Senkaku (or Diaoyu), and the controversy heightened in September when Japan announced that it had formally “purchased” the islands from a private company that reputedly owned them. China countered by “launching” its first-ever aircraft carrier (a vessel junked in 1998 by Ukraine), which it hopes will intimidate its neighbors even though it’s useless. Days later, patrol boats from Taiwan and Japan had a confrontation near the islands–drenching each other in a military-grade squirt-gun fight. Japan won.
A 14-year-old boy was hospitalized in critical condition in Churchill, Pa., in August after allegedly swiping a Jeep Grand Cherokee and leading the owner’s boyfriend on a brief high-speed chase before rolling the Cherokee over on Interstate 376. The boy’s mother, according to WTAE-TV, blamed the Cherokee’s owner: A vehicle with the keys in it, she said, “was an opportunity that, in a 14-year-old’s eyes, was … the perfect moment.” Also, she said, the boyfriend “had no right to chase my son.” The boy “could have just [wanted] a joyride down the street. Maybe he [merely] wanted to go farther than he felt like walking.”
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
David Thompson, 27, was arrested in August and charged with stealing a bag of marijuana from the Charleroi (Pa.) Regional police station. While talking to an officer about an unrelated case, Thompson noticed an evidence bag on a counter and swiped it. Caught moments later, Thompson profusely apologized, telling the officer, “I just couldn’t help myself. That bud smelled so good.” And Aaron Morris was charged in August with battery in North Lauderdale, Fla., for groping the buttocks of a woman at a Walmart. According to the arresting officer, Morris explained, “Her booty looked so good, I just couldn’t resist touching it.”
Arrested in September and charged with aggravated indecent exposure (making continued obscene gestures to female kayakers on Michigan’s Pinnebog River while nude): 60-year-old TV producer William H. Masters III, the son of pioneer 1960s sex researcher William Masters, who, with Virginia Johnson, wrote the landmark books Human Sexual Response and Human Sexual Inadequacy.
Richard Wagner Jones, running for a school board seat in Granite, Utah, told reporters in June that since the job is mainly about taxes and budgets, he would not have to make site visits to schools. That is fortunate, for Jones is barred from schools as a registered sex offender based on a 1990 conviction. And Mike Rios, a former school board member in Moreno Valley, Calif., said in August that he was still considering running for the town’s council despite his March arrest for attempted murder and April arrest for pimping (allegedly caught with several underage recruits).
NAME OF THE GAME
Brazil has a robust democracy but very few controls on what candidates may call themselves on ballots. Among those running for offices this election season, according to a September New York Times dispatch from Rio de Janeiro: “John Kennedy Abreu Sousa,” “Jimmi Carter Santarem Barroso,” “Ladi Gaga,” “Christ of Jerusalem,” “Macgaiver,” five “Batmans,” two “James Bonds,” and 16 people whose name contains “Obama.” “It’s a marketing strategy,” said city council candidate Geraldo Custodio, who apparently likes his chances better as “Geraldo Wolverine.”
FUNGUS IN THE NEWS
Yak herders in Tibet and farmers in the Indian Himalayas are becoming relatively prosperous, according to recent reports by National Geographic and London’s The Guardian, by harvesting rare caterpillar fungi. In Tibet, “yartsa gunbu” supposedly cures ailments ranging from back pain to HIV, from hair loss to asthma and more, and often sells in local markets for twice its weight in gold. In India, “kira jari” is believed to be an aphrodisiac and energy booster, but the government is trying to control the market because insufficient new larvae means the land might soon be picked clean.
CREME DE LA WEIRD
Arrests were made in July of two men who had openly chatted on the Internet about torturing, cooking and eating children, but investigators have searched in vain for evidence of any such crimes by the men. Jason Scarcello, 42, who wrote, “(A)ctually (seeing) a child cooking would be a dream come true,” is under arrest in Anderson, Calif., and Ronald Brown, 57, who suggested carving and cooking body parts for an “Easter meal,” in Largo, Fla., was detained for possessing child pornography, but, regarding the Internet chats, both claimed a First Amendment right to their un-acted-upon imaginations, however disgusting.