This Week

Issue: "Y2K: Binary blowout?," Aug. 22, 1998

Sleeping with the enemy

Pamela Wiser was mad at the ex-boyfriend who infected her with the AIDS virus. So she decided to get even by passing on HIV to every man she could find. She says she spent the past year picking up men at bars in rural Tennessee. At first she bragged of flings with up to 50 men. Now she says there were "only" five, but police think the bigger number is closer to the truth. "We don't know who they are," says Michael Hunger, the local police chief. "Some we have first names, some we have no names." "I was just getting revenge for what he did to me," the 29-year-old divorcée and mother of two said from jail. She now claims she told her partners that she had the virus, but they didn't care. "The guys wanted to come home with me and I told them I had it," she says. "They didn't understand; they didn't care if they got it or not." A grand jury recently indicted Ms. Wiser on two counts of criminal exposure of sexual partners to HIV. In Tennessee, the charge carries a sentence of up to 12 years in jail. Right now, authorities are trying to find all her partners so they can be tested. In the first day after the story broke, police were swamped with about 80 calls from nervous men. Perhaps a lot more people should be nervous, because Ms. Wiser isn't the only person with AIDS to knowingly infect large numbers of others. The worst documented case was near St. Louis, where Darnell "Boss Man" McGee infected at least 18 women and girls. He had more than 100 known sex partners before he was killed last year in an apparent robbery attempt. Earlier this year, New York authorities said a drifter named Nushawn Williams infected 17 people, including several young girls.

Nation in brief

  • NASA disaster
    A Titan 4A rocket, reportedly carrying a top-secret spy satellite, exploded 22 seconds after liftoff Wednesday, showering toxic debris into the ocean off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla. The secretive National Reconnaissance Agency claimed ownership of the payload, though it would provide no additional details. Other sources, however, said it was a Vortex satellite with an antenna 300 feet in diameter, capable of intercepting transmissions from radios and cell phones. With a launch cost of $344 million and a satellite valued at $1 billion, the disaster was NASA's costliest ever.
  • S.F. shakes ...
    High-rise office towers in downtown San Francisco swayed Wednesday morning in the force of a 5.3-magnitude earthquake centered about 90 miles southeast of town. The quake, which occurred along the San Andreas fault, cracked freeways, halted commuter trains, and tossed boats moored under the Golden Gate Bridge. No serious injuries were reported, however.
    Despite pressure from Congress, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors last week expanded the city's controversial domestic partners laws. Businesses that offer family discounts for married couples must now do the same for unmarried domestic partners. Two weeks ago, the House cut off federal housing funds to the city because of its law forcing private companies with city contracts to provide domestic partner benefits for all employees.

Lower the bar?

Books with Johnny Can't Read titles have been staples of the education debate for decades now. But Massachusetts recently pinpointed one cause of educational illiteracy. We may be seeing a new book titled, Teacher Can't Read. While the NEA continues to claim teachers are underpaid, Massachusetts's new statewide exam showed they're actually undereducated. According to results released last month, nearly 60 percent of would-be teachers failed the exam, which tests recent college grads in reading, writing, and one specialty field. College deans were red-faced. Some immediately announced new crash courses on test-taking, while others promised to up the GPA required for graduation. Naturally, some educrats continued to defend the system. Said one provost, aghast at the thought of raising the GPA requirement: "There's not good research that shows a good correlation between GPA and teacher performance."

Kids these days

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

For anyone who has ever thought that the above headline is just the standard lament of old fogeys, last week offered conclusive proof that "kids these days" really are different. Namely, because some can't distinguish right from wrong-even when it comes to murder. In Chicago, two boys aged 7 and 8 were charged with brutally murdering an 11-year-old playmate because they wanted her blue bicycle. Ryan Harris disappeared July 27 after riding her bike around the neighborhood with the older boy. When police found her body, her skull was fractured, clothing was stuffed in her mouth, and leaves up her nose. "I cannot think of a more heinous and egregious act," said an obviously shaken prosecutor. The boys, however, didn't appear shaken at all. The 8-year-old ran home to watch cartoons when it was all over. In court, he and his friend drew pictures at the defense table and munched on Skittles. One boy cried only when the judge ruled he could not go home with his mother. The defendants were held instead at a psychiatric hospital. Meanwhile, in Jonesboro, Ark., two other youngsters, Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, were convicted of killing four classmates and a teacher in a schoolyard shooting last March. Mitchell turned 14 the day the trial began. "I am sorry it's on his birthday of all days," his mother lamented. "We can't give him any kind of presents, all we can give him is love." All four young defendants will receive a gift from the justice system in just a few years. Thanks to state law, juvenile offenders cannot be held beyond their 21st birthday, no matter how heinous their crime.


You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading


    Life with Lyme

    For long-term Lyme patients, treatment is a matter of…