The North Carolina Court of Appeals overturned the cocaine-possession conviction of Timothy Stone in September, ruling that a search of his person was unconstitutional even though he had given police permission. The judges agreed with Stone that when he consented, he never expected that the search would include the officers holding out the waistband of his sweatpants and shining a flashlight on his genitals, which is where he happened to be hiding a small container of cocaine.
The “Berkeley Pit” in Butte, Mont. is the nation’s largest environmental-disaster site, with 40 billion gallons of highly toxic copper-mine waste that the federal government has long feared too expensive to clean up. But Montana Tech researchers, writing in the Journal of Organic Chemistry in July, have found more than 160 types of “extremophiles” (organisms that thrive in toxicity) in the pit and have demonstrated that some are effective against lung and ovarian cancers.
Ricardo Meana, 81, was charged with attempted murder in November in Sun City, Fla., when his 82-year-old wife, who has Alzheimer’s, was found inside a van in a store’s parking lot struggling with the plastic bag over her head. Police were called, but Meana seemed unconcerned and even nonchalantly resumed shopping, saying that he often put the bags on when his wife felt sick, so that she would not vomit on herself.
In 2002, Jeffrey Klein and Brett Birdwell, both 17 at the time, trespassed onto a railroad yard in Lancaster, Pa., and climbed atop a boxcar to see what the view was like, but were severely burned by a 12,500-volt line on the roof and thus sued Amtrak and Norfolk Southern railroads for not having done enough to prevent them from trespassing. In October, a federal jury awarded the two men a total of about $12 million in compensatory damages plus $12 million in punitive damages.
THE LAWS OF IRONY
Federal prosecutors have insisted so far that any ill-gotten money that former Enron executives had squirreled away in their spouses’ names still can be fully recovered by the government, except for one executive. Michael Kopper, once a director of Enron’s global finance unit, pleaded guilty in 2002 to illegally obtaining $16.5 million, but he is openly gay. And since his home state of Texas does not recognize his union with his longtime partner, prosecutors cannot treat the partner as a “spouse” and have lumped him with “third party” transferees, whose assets are much more difficult to obtain (according to a November report in the Washington Blade).
PEOPLE DIFFERENT FROM US
A 41-year-old engineer in suburban Toronto has accumulated, and worn, about 800 pairs of sports socks over 15 years (half of them off the feet of professional athletes), according to a lengthy November profile in Canada’s National Post, which did not reveal his name. The worst part of his hobby, he said (besides having to keep it secret from his wife), is that he is often contacted by foot and sock fetishists, which he denies that he is, preferring to think of himself as sort of a “custodian of history,” wrote the Post. MTW