John Gladney didn't get far after robbing the National City Bank in Columbus, Ohio, last month. Police found him walking strangely and in severe pain about a block away. Hampering Mr. Gladney's getaway: The stolen money he had shoved down his pants contained an explosive dye pack, which injured him when it exploded.
Cuts like a knife
Jayde Hanson of London, England, cut his girlfriend with a knife last week, but he won't face any charges. Over one million ITV viewers were watching as the circus performer and record-breaking knife thrower tried to show how many knives he could throw at his assistant/girlfriend Yana Rodianova in 60 seconds without hitting her. But one of the knives did graze her head, prompting horror in the studio as producers rushed to help the bleeding assistant. An ITV spokeswoman later said the wound was only "a nick" and Ms. Rodianova was "absolutely fine and recovering well." Ms. Rodianova has decided to focus on her hula-hoop act, but Mr. Hanson is confident that he'll be able to find another assistant: "In 11 years of performing, I've only hit my assistant on five occasions," he told the Daily Mirror.
"Tax Me More"
Tax revenue in Arkansas grew by 55 percent (adjusted for inflation and population growth) between 1990 and 2001, but apparently some Arkansans think that wasn't enough. For the past two years, the state has had a "Tax Me More" account funded by voluntary donations from taxpayers. The account has only taken in between $2,000 and $3,000, but lawmakers in Alaska, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Oregon are considering similar measures in their states. "We have to be innovative and think outside the box when it comes to generating new revenue," said Pennsylvania State Rep. Jeff Coleman, a Republican. But lawmakers continue to think squarely inside the box on the spending side of the ledger: The Cato Institute reports that general fund spending nearly doubled in the 50 states from $275 billion in 1990 to $506 billion in 2001, the last year for available data.
ACORN may want workers of the corporate world to unite, but it demands that its own employees stand on their own. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, a group that fights for "living wage" laws and other liberal causes, laid off employees who tried to join the International Workers of the World (the Wobblies of early 20th-century fame). The workers in question earned $18,000 annual salaries for 54-hour work weeks. They also complained about late paychecks, working on weekends, and safety. The workers filed suit and the National Labor Relations Board found that the layoffs were retaliatory. Kimberly Olsen, who heads ACORN's Dallas branch, accused the union of "trying to destroy" ACORN.
In St. Louis, a bad-hair day is worth $6,000. A jury last week awarded that amount to a suburban St. Louis woman after she sued a hair studio, claiming a bad hair treatment caused depression and forced her into early retirement. Geremie Hoff of Creve Coeur, Mo., says she received much more than just a hair relaxer and a wash at a local Elizabeth Arden Salon. She said when she returned home, clumps of her hair came loose resulting in bald spots. In addition to slipping into depression, Ms. Hoff testified the bad hair treatment forced her to retire early from a teaching position at a local university.
"The youngest ... are middle-aged, their numbers are dropping, and thousands are living solitary lives." This may describe Western European human societies, where youth populations have been in decline since the 1970s, but that quote from the website of Britain's Environment Agency is about pearl mussels in England and Wales. The Environment Agency's solution: a pearl mussel dating service, or "introduction agency." The government-funded group hopes to prompt breeding by relocating the pearl mussels. "In England and Wales adult freshwater pearl mussels don't get about much," says the website.
President Bush can call Islam "a religion of peace," and former President Clinton could express a preference for Quaker education by sending his daughter to Sidwell Friends. But Education Secretary Rod Paige last week apparently crossed a line. So grievous was this line-crossing, The New York Times said, that a "church-state furor" now "engulfs" the cabinet officer. His crime was praising "the strong value system" of Christian schools. Mr. Paige told Baptist Press that he prefers schools that have "a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community" where children learn that "there is a source of strength greater than themselves." Public schools, he said, had "different kinds of values." As proof of engulfing fury, the Times trotted out two of the usual suspects: Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York, who called on the secretary to repudiate his comments. Mr. Paige said he would not, adding: "I understand and respect the separation of church and state." He had told the Baptist Press that he would offer "my prayers" to his critics.
Reptile in peace
If a dog can be a man's best friend, can a reptile be a woman's son? According to a 53-year-old Thai woman, the lizard she buried this month was the reincarnation of her son who died two years ago. When the monitor lizard followed Jamlong Taengnian home after her 12-year-old son's funeral, she believed her son had come back as the lost lizard. So when the reptile died, Ms. Jamlong held a formal burial. She even placed a photo of her dead son, Charoen, beside the reptile's lifeless body. Hundreds of well-wishers gathered for the service.
Beer, baseball, and barbarian fans have long been a volatile mix, and the combination came to a head again last week in Chicago. Eric Dybas told police that he had been drinking all day before he rushed onto the field and attacked an umpire during an April 15 game between the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox. He was the fourth fan to run onto the field during the game. In a Royals-Sox game in Chicago last year, a drunken father and son also rushed the field and attacked Royals coach Tom Gamboa. Major league baseball executives last week promised to "spare no expenses" in beefing up ballpark security, but others in the sport admitted that extra security measures wouldn't guarantee safety. "You still couldn't prevent a person, one lunatic or whatever you want to call it, from trying to get his 10 seconds of fame," said Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.
Criminals have long dealt in laundered money, but a thief in Goteberg, Sweden, tried his hand at vacuuming it. Goteberg police arrested 44-year-old Mikael Persson after they saw him use a vacuum cleaner to pull coins out of two of the city's parking meters. Mr. Persson used stolen keys to open the fronts of the meters, then vacuumed the coins out of their small holding areas, which cannot be reached by hand. When caught, he had $260 worth of coins in his pocket. But Mr. Persson has come clean: He pleaded guilty to the crime and awaits sentencing.
Cheaper than eviction
Douglas Rau has tried just about everything to get his due. Now he's trying bribery. The Massachusetts landlord with about 100 renters has started awarding prizes to tenants who pay on time. "It's pretty bad that you've got to do this to get people to do what they're already supposed to do on their own accord," Mr. Rau said. "But it seems like everybody thinks somebody owes them something." In Mr. Rau's first-ever renters' lottery, tenant Pablo Gallero won a four-day trip to the Bahamas. The package cost the landlord nearly $1,000-or one-fifth the court and repair cost of evicting a non-paying tenant. Mr. Rau said the first prize wouldn't be the last, as four tenants chronically late in their payments have forked over their rent money promptly.
Tom Snyder of Murray, Utah, is a self-proclaimed atheist, but he wants to say a prayer to "Our Mother, who art in heaven," before a meeting of the Salt Lake City suburb's city council. The Utah Supreme Court this month decided to let him. If the city is going to have prayers before meetings, the court ruled in a 4-1 decision, then it must allow access to anyone who seeks it. Salt Lake City ended public prayer after a similar ruling in 1993.