FRENCH FULL-BODY HEALTHCARE
As the U.S. government’s role in health care is debated, the French government’s role was highlighted in February with a report on Slate about France’s guarantee to new mothers of “10 to 20” free sessions of “la reeducation perineale” (vaginal re-toning to restore the pre-pregnancy condition, a “cornerstone of French post- natal care,” according to Slate). The sessions involve yoga-like calisthenics to rebuild muscles and improve genital flexibility. Similar procedures in the U.S. not only are not government entitlements, but are almost never covered by private insurance, and besides, say surgeons, the patients who request them do so almost entirely for aesthetic reasons. The French program, by contrast, is said to be designed not only for general health but to strengthen women for bearing more children, to raise the birth rate.
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS
Two men were robbed in a motel room in Bradenton, Fla., in February by Cedrick Mitchell, 39, who pulled a handgun on them, but lost it in a struggle when the men started to fight back. One of the men pepper-sprayed Mitchell, sending him fleeing. He returned a few minutes later and begged to buy the gun back for $40, but all he got was another pepper-spraying. Police arrested Mitchell nearby.
DRILL, BABY, DRILL
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas may have been joking, but according to a February Washington Post story, he seemed serious at a Natural Resources Committee hearing when searching for yet more reasons why the U.S. should support oil drilling in Alaska. Caribou, he said, are fond of the warmth of the Alaskan pipeline. “So when they want to go on a date, they invite each other to head over to the pipeline.” That mating ritual, Rep. Gohmert concluded, is surely responsible for a recent tenfold increase in the local caribou population.
In assigning a bail of only $20,000, the judge in Ellisville, Miss., seemed torn about whether to believe that Harold Hadley is a terrorist–that is, did Hadley plant a bomb at Jones County Junior College? In February, investigators told WDAM-TV that the evidence against Hadley included a note on toilet paper on which he had written in effect, “I passed a bomb in the library.” However, no bomb was found, and a relative of Hadley’s told the judge that Hadley often speaks of breaking wind as “passing a bomb.” The case is continuing.
Melvyn Webb, 54, was acquitted in March of alleged indecent behavior on a train. An eight-woman, four-man jury in Reading (England) Crown Court found Webb’s explanation entirely plausible–that he was a banjo player and was “playing” some riffs underneath the newspaper in his lap. “[S]ometimes I do, with my hands, pick out a pattern on my knees,” he said. (On the other hand, the female witness against him had testified that Webb “was facing me, breathing heavily and snarling.”)
Earl Persell, 56, was arrested in Palm Bay, Fla., in February when police were summoned to his home on a domestic violence call. Persell’s girlfriend said he had assaulted her and held her down by the neck, and then moments later, with his truck, rammed the car she was driving away in. The subject of the couple’s argument was legendary singer Tina Turner and her late, wife-beating husband, Ike.