OUR LITIGIOUS SOCIETY
Allen Heckard filed a lawsuit in Hillsboro, Ore., in June against Michael Jordan and Nike founder Phil Knight for $416 million each, charging that they are responsible for his “pain and suffering,” and his “defamation,” in that nearly every day for 15 years, people have mistaken him for Jordan. Heckard admits to being a pretty good basketball player (though six inches shorter than Jordan) and to wearing Air Jordans, and in fact curiously told KGW-TV that, all in all, being recognized as Jordan was a “positive” thing. He said he arrived at the “416” figure from multiplying his age by seven (though he appears to be in his 30s, not 59). Heckard also filed the lawsuit without benefit of a lawyer.
ARE WE SAFE?
The Washington Times reported in June that a retired New York City police officer had nonchalantly passed through the main security checkpoint at Department of Homeland Security headquarters by showing as his only ID, a long-obsolete Mexican consulate card. Also in June, Delaware governor Ruth Ann Minner complained that Homeland Security’s secret telephone hotline to governors, intended for emergency communication, was often tied up by telemarketers, and recommended that the department enter the number onto the government’s Do Not Call registry.
In April, a dead, decaying cow got caught on a tree branch at a dam near West Milford, W.Va., and remained there for several weeks, according to an Associated Press report, grossing out neighbors, while five government jurisdictions declined repeated requests to move it. It was outside West Milford city limits; the state Department of Natural Resources handles only wild animals; the state Environmental Protection people found no ecological danger; the state Agriculture Department called it a local issue; and a regional Water Board also declined. Finally, on May 13, workers from the state Division of Highways, along with local volunteer firefighters, removed it.
From the May 25 Washington Post Crime Report: “10:55 p.m. May 8. A man directed a driver into a parking space, then grabbed her when she got out of the car. He said, ‘I’m not going to hurt you. You’re a unique person, and I’m a unique person.’ He put a ring on her right index finger and started to chant, then took property from her pocket and fled on foot.”
Conservative legislators in Ottawa, as has happened in similar cases, became enraged in June after learning that the Canada Council for the Arts had given $9,000 (Cdn) to performance artist Jess Dobkin to stage Lactation Station, a bar serving human breast milk from six contributors in a setting similar to a wine-tasting.
CREME DE LA WEIRD
A June Associated Press account of a deposition by Michael Jackson, given for an upcoming trial in a lawsuit by a former business associate, reports that Jackson habitually carried no money and got none from his business manager and that his only source of occasional cash was from leasing the cows that grazed on his Neverland Ranch. Lawyer: “So all your cash, whenever you need cash to shop or whatever, comes from the cows?” Jackson: “Yes, believe it or not.” Lawyer: “I don’t, but that’s OK. I don’t have to.” Jackson: “I’m telling you.” MTW