Palm Beach County, Fla., created the controversial “butterfly ballot” in the 2000 presidential election that reportedly confused more than a thousand Gore-Lieberman voters such that they wound up marking their ballots for a minor-party candidate. In February 2006, local education officials told the Palm Beach Post that too many of the county’s high school students apparently knew answers on the statewide comprehensive test but were incorrectly marking the answer sheets. The multiple choice questions require only one circle to be darkened on the sheet, but other questions require darkening digits of an actual numerical answer, apparently bewildering students into darkening too many or too few circles.
DISCONNECTED FROM SOCIETY
A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist, quoting a spokesman for the telecommunications company Lucent in January, reported that “nearly a million people” in the United States still lease their house phones for around $60 a year rather than buy them for as little as $20 each.
The Wichita Eagle reported in January that the BTK serial killer, Dennis Rader (now serving 10 consecutive life sentences), has been sued by a former employee, Mary Capps, for $75,000 because, while she worked for him, he used “abusive, intimidating language and physical gestures” toward her, damaging her career prospects with the Park City, Kan., government. Rader is unlikely ever to have $75,000 in assets, and besides, most people who were only verbally abused by Rader might feel lucky.
UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT
An exhaustive report in December on CIA operatives who staffed the so-called “rendition” program, secretly transferring suspected terrorists from U.S. custody to foreign governments, revealed sometimes-sloppy undercover work of the agents. In one rendition, in Milan, Italy, covert agents failed to remove their cell phones’ batteries, thus enabling them to be electronically tracked even though the phones were off. Also, one clandestine operative left a clear trail of her whereabouts because, even though she booked herself at foreign hotels under aliases, she insisted that frequent-flier miles earned at the hotels be credited to her personal, non-secret frequent-flier account.
WASN’T THIS A STEPHEN KING MOVIE?
Gerard Glock, 39, filed a claim against the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., in January to reimburse two months’ wages he lost when he was too traumatized to work. He had been trimming weeds in a cemetery operated by the church when the ground collapsed, and he wound up waist-deep in his brother-in-law’s grave.
NEW FETISHIST SPECIES
Masafumi Natsukawa, 39, was arrested in Yokohama, Japan, in January for allegedly tricking more than 30 young girls to open their mouths on the pretense that he was checking for tooth decay, and when they did, he licked their tongues. And in January, former schoolteacher Michael Codde, 44, was sentenced to a year in jail after pleading guilty in Santa Cruz, Calif., to felony child molestation. The case against Codde consisted mostly of testimony that he put whipped cream on teenage boys’ toes and made them lick it off while he took photos (a practice the judge said that Codde engaged in for sexual arousal). MTW