EVERYTHING’S BIGGER IN TEXAS—INCLUDING INJUSTICE
In March, juries in Smith County and Matagorda County in Texas sentenced Henry Wooten and Melvin Johnson III to 35 years and 60 years in prison, respectively, for possessing small amounts of drugs (but enough under state law to allow jurors to infer an intent to distribute). Wooten, 54, had 4.6 ounces of marijuana (same penalty as for 5 pounds), and Johnson had 1.3 grams of crack cocaine (about half the weight of a U.S. dime). (Wooten’s prosecutor actually had asked the jury for a sentence of 99 years.)
WELFARE THEE WELL
Under the British government’s Local Housing Authority, Essma Marjam, age 34, unemployed and the mother of six, is entitled to rental assistance for a five-bedroom home, and the only suitable one she could find is in an exclusive London suburb in which her neighbor is Sir Paul McCartney. Luckily, the generous allowance (equivalent of more than $9,000 a month) covers the rent on the nearly $3 million (U.S. equivalent) mansion. (Additionally, according to the Daily Mail, Marjam’s non-housing government benefits total the equivalent of about $22,000 a year.)
WAIT, COLLEGE STUDENTS HAVE SEX?
In February, the undergraduate dean’s office at Yale University disclosed that it was formally soliciting anonymous, first-person reports of student sexual experiences to publish on a school Web site, as “strategies for creatively navigating Yale’s sexual culture,” according to an advisor. “There is a real need for students to have space to think about what happens to them and what they want to have happen,” she said. “Sex@Yale” would contain “70 to 80” specific perspectives, she said, but critics suggested the anthology might grow to resemble Penthouse magazine’s often-ridiculed “Forum” section of lascivious fantasies.
The entertainment manager at Thorpe Park in Surrey, England, announced in February a contest seeking foul-smelling urine. The park has introduced a live action horror maze based on scenes from the Saw movie series and decided that it was missing a “signature stench” to “really push the boundaries” of disgustingness. Manager Laura Sinclair suggested that submissions’ pungency would be enhanced after consumption of such foods as garlic and asparagus and offered a prize of the equivalent of about $750 for the winning urine.
Seventh-grader Rachael Greer was suspended from River Valley Middle School in Jefferson, Indiana, in February, even though she apparently did exactly what her parents and the school want kids to do (“just say ‘no’” to drugs). When a classmate handed her a prescription pill in gym class, she immediately handed it right back. Nonetheless, an assistant principal, after investigating the incident, suspended her for five days because she had touched the pill. (He expressed regret but said it is school policy.)
LESS MONEY, LESS PROBLEMS
A recent epiphany caused millionaire Austrian businessman Karl Rabeder, 47, to be depressed about his wealth, and by February, he was in the process of giving away an estate worth the equivalent of about $5 million. Two luxury properties are for sale, with proceeds going to charities he established in Central and South America, and he plans to move into a small hut in Innsbruck. “Money is counterproductive,” he told a reporter. “I had the feeling I was working as a slave for things that I did not wish or need.”
(1) In March, on duty on opening day of the jail at the new Adair County judicial center in Columbia, Kentucky, sheriff’s deputy Charles Wright accidentally locked himself in a cell and was fired after he tried to shoot open the lock. (2) A Collier County, Florida, sheriff’s deputy suffered a broken ankle when he and a colleague accidentally locked wheels while patrolling in Naples on their Segways.