Windsor, Ontario, hair stylist Waddah (Martin) Mustapha was awarded the equivalent of about US$270,000 by a court in April after he testified that he became racked with depression upon seeing a fly inside a commercial bottle of water at his salon. Presumably, damages would have been more if Mustapha had actually drunk from the bottle (or even opened it). As it was, he and his wife vomited and he required extensive psychotherapy for nightmares, loss of sense of humor, increased argumentativeness, lack of desire to shower regularly and constipation.
In April, Laura and Edmund Gerstein of Boca Raton, Fla., who want to save their beloved backyard grapefruit tree from the state’s citrus canker eradication program, formally claimed immunity for the tree under a provision in the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The Gersteins pointed to a paragraph on protecting crops needed for civilians’ survival during wartime, in that, said Edmund, “As I understand it, [the U.S.] is in a state of war.” A state Department of Agriculture spokesman responded by saying, “That tree will be coming down.”
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS
Thanh Nhat Le, 51, was arrested in Dorchester, Mass., in April, when he tried to cash a check he wrote to himself for $7,550 on his account at a Sovereign Bank. He had opened the account two weeks earlier, handing over $171 in small bills. He was certain that he had plenty of money in his account, though, because in the interim, he had also mailed the bank three checks for deposit: one for $250,000, one for $2 million, and one for $4 billion.
In Springfield, Mass., in April, Thomas P. Budnick became the most recent man who was convicted at a trial in which he had persuaded the judge to let him act as his own lawyer, to then argue with a straight face on appeal that his conviction should be overturned because his trial lawyer was incompetent. The decision is pending.
MORE COMPELLING EXPLANATIONS
Police in Morrisville, Vt., who arrested a teenager in April for allegedly removing a corpse’s head in a cemetery tomb, said the suspect had spoken of using the head as a marijuana bong. And a young woman who in December sued an Austin, Texas, distributor of steamy “spring break” videos, admitted that she had consented to be in a video topless, but now said she was a minor at the time and now fears the video’s circulation will hamper her in “college,” “career” and “church.”
Gay men resemble women in their approach to reading road maps (determining directions by, for example, use of landmarks, rather than the typical heterosexual male approach of spatial reasoning), says psychobiologist Oazi Rahman of the University of East London.
In January, a 69-year-old minister at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Oviedo, Fla., suffered a fatal heart attack right as he was quoting the scholar John Wesley, “And when I go to heaven….” And in April, at least 52 Hindu pilgrims drowned in India’s holy Narmada River when a power-generation dam upstream released water.