WORTH THE COMMUTE
Downtown London residences are known to be staggeringly expensive, but media blogger Sam Cookney calculated in October just how much. Cookney said he can live in an upscale apartment in Barcelona, Spain, and commute almost every workday to London (700 miles away) for less money than a modest central London rental. (Sixteen commuter days over four weeks a month would run, in pound-dollar equivalents: $2,420 for a West Hampstead rental, $121 council tax, and $188 transit travel card, totaling $2,730. Barcelona, in euro-dollar equivalents: $938 for a three-bedroom flat with three balconies near transit, no tax, $47 daily round-trip on Ryanair, $32 a day in airport transportation, totaling $2,202–a savings of $528 a month.) Plus, he said, sunny Barcelona is on the Mediterranean. On the other hand, Cookney luckily can work on the plane, for each flight is two hours long.
CAN’T POSSIBLY BE TRUE
Lawyers for Radu Dogaru, who is on trial in Romania for stealing masterpieces last year from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands, said the heist was also the museum’s fault–for having such unimaginably lax security–and that if the museum did not admit that, Dogaru would sue. Museum officials said they had tracked some of the works to Dogaru’s mother, who is claiming ignorance, and the son’s lawyers hope to discount any insurance-company judgments against her by spreading the blame.
PEACE IN OUR TIME
Perhaps thousands of Baghdad residents have been killed by bomb couriers who had passed through supposedly secure checkpoints that were “equipped” with useless ADE-651 bomb “detectors,” but the devices were surely to be history following the April fraud conviction of the British scam artist who made $75 million selling them. (American officials had warned Iraqis for years that the ADE-651 was basically a novelty golf-ball finder.) But despite the debunking evidence brought out at trial, Iraqi police continue to use them, according to an October dispatch in London’s The Independent, with the September death toll at nearly 1,000 from bombers who passed through checkpoints, past silent ADE-651s. Even Prime Minister al-Maliki vouches that the ADE works “up to 60 percent” of the time.
UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT
In September, San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia Cookson, perhaps sensing an autumnal whiff of romance in the courthouse, agreed to perform the wedding ceremony, in her courtroom, of Mr. Danne Desbrow and his fiancee, Destiny–and even to serve the lucky couple homemade cake afterward. But Judge Cookson did all of this immediately after sentencing Desbrow to a 53-year-to-life term for first-degree murder and for threatening a witness.
PARENTS THESE DAYS
Many parents long for armed protection for their kids at school, but a few parents at Entz Elementary in Mesa, Ariz., have the opposite concern–and demanded that local cop (and parent) Scott Urkov not wear his service weapon, or uniform, when he drops his child off in the morning. The principal sided with the complaining parents (although at least one mother defended Urkov, albeit defining the issue primarily as “his right” to be in uniform as he heads off to work).
DEAF TO THE WORLD
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has been delaying a decision for months about whether to punish the Apache ASL Trails housing complex in Tempe, Ariz., for the sin of renting 85 percent of its units to the hearing-impaired–for whom the facility was actually designed (equipped with comfort and safety features to serve the deaf). But HUD has threatened to withhold federal funding because Apache is suspected of illegally discriminating against the non-hearing-impaired (who under guidelines should, HUD believes, occupy three-fourths of Apache’s units). State officials and Arizona’s congressional delegation have voiced pride in Apache’s mission, but the HUD secretary’s indecisiveness has left Apache tenants in limbo, according to a September Arizona Republic report.
This year, the Florida legislature passed the Timely Justice Act to cut short the legal dawdling that allows death row inmates to postpone their execution–sometimes for more than 25 years. Among the first “victims” of the act was to be Marshall Gore, set to be executed in September for two 1988 murders. But his date was once again postponed–because Florida’s tough-on-crime attorney general had scheduled a re-election campaign fundraiser that conflicted with her presence at the execution. (Gore will instead die in January.)
Prominent Los Angeles cosmetic surgeon David Matlock is himself a finely chiseled specimen of muscle and zero body fat, but he said that when patient “Veronica” came to him in 2007 for “vaginal rejuvenation” surgery, he instantly fell in love despite her somewhat-pudgy figure. He proposed marriage, she accepted, and with her consent, Dr. Matlock set out not only on the requested procedure but on what he called the “Wonder Woman Makeover”–diet, exercise, surgeries, suctions and injections. By August 2013, reported Huffington Post, the sculpted couple were competing in matching bodybuilding contests. But Veronica’s daughter Isabella, 9, is not on board, remarking, “Healthy food doesn’t taste good.”