U.S. Customs is on the job!: In August, U.S. Customs confiscated an SUV being used to smuggle Mexican immigrants into the country, but later admitted that their thorough search of it had overlooked a 13-year-old girl hiding inside; she was discovered 42 hours later. And in July, Adrian Rodriguez was imprisoned (but released by an appeals court a month later) because Mexican authorities found 33 pounds of marijuana that U.S. Customs had failed to find in a vehicle it had just sold to him at auction. That was the third time recently that someone had bought a vehicle from U.S. Customs that contained overlooked marijuana and for which the purchaser spent at least some time in prison (in one case, one year) before things were straightened out.
Our litigious society: Former Ball State University student Andrew Bourne, 23, and his parents filed a lawsuit in September against the school and the manufacturer of its aluminum football goal posts. Bourne suffered a broken leg and vertebrae when, during a raucous end-zone celebration after a 2001 victory over the University of Toledo, students pulled down the goal posts, hitting Bourne.Kevin Presland was awarded about the equivalent of US$150,000 by a judge in Sydney, Australia, in August because the Hunter Area Health Service psychiatric hospital released him too soon in 1995, after which he killed his brother's fiancee. This was not a lawsuit by the victim's family against the hospital; this was a direct payout to Presland, whose injury was that he was made to suffer temporary prison conditions after his arrest (he was acquitted because of his psychosis), whereas if he had never been released, he would have experienced only psychiatric-hospital conditions.
Recent Highway Truck Spills: A trailer full of toilet bowls, which accidentally came unhooked and overturned on Interstate 88 near Colesville, N.Y. (June). A trailer full of compressed paper and sex toys (including whips, plastic breasts and blow-up dolls), which spilled onto the northbound M6 highway near Castle Bromwich, England (June). And two tractor-trailers full of honeybees (80 million on Interstate 95 near Titusville, Fla., in April, and another measured at 500 beehives of "thousands of bees each" on Interstate 435 near Claycomo, Mo., in June). (Most of the bees were recovered by using smoke to put them temporarily to sleep.)
Give Them Points for "Style": A 17-year-old boy, after receiving a free Krispy Kreme doughnut at an Erie, Pa., store promotion, stepped back in line for another but was refused. According to the Erie Times-News, he returned a few minutes later with a McDonald's sack over his head and asked for a doughnut but was again refused. Then he fell to the floor and flailed his arms and legs, demanding another free doughnut, and was cited by police for disorderly conduct. In Edmonton, Alberta, in July, Bill Sokolik pleaded guilty to a 2002 robbery that went down this way: He had wrapped his head in gauze, covered his face with silicon putty and rouge (and oversized glasses), grabbed a Samurai sword, walked into a Jehovah's Witnesses hall, and screamed, "I am the evil that you have read about! This is the face of evil!" He was in the middle of collecting cash and credit cards from everyone when the police arrived. (A psychiatrist had testified that Sokolik had run out of medication several days before.)
(c) 2003 Chuck Shepherd