A Darrow County, Colo., girl's twirling sticks have landed her in front of the school board. Marie Morrow, 17, was expelled from her high school on Feb. 5 under the state's zero-tolerance policy on weapons because passersby saw wooden replica rifles in the back of her car and misunderstood them as the real thing. In reality, Morrow twirls the wooden and duct-taped rifle replicas for her high school's drill team. Eventually, however, public sentiment swayed toward the honor student and school officials allowed her to return to campus.
With wait times like this, Indians with legal claims might just go vigilante. In a recent report from the top judge of the Delhi High Court, the chief justice says the court's docket is so backlogged, some cases may take up to 466 years to clear if the judges keep their present pace. Despite spending an average of 4 minutes, 55 seconds on each case presently, the Delhi High Court still has tens of thousands of cases in the hopper including more than 600 that are at least 20 years old. The Delhi court is indicative of a terminally backlogged national judicial system that the UN claims has over 20 million cases pending. One reason for the backlog? A shortage of judges. While the United States has roughly one judge for every 9,100 citizens, India has one judge for every 91,000 citizens.
Up on the farm
Forget the more urbane Match.com, rural singles looking for agrarian matches finally have a destination on the internet. With more than 100,000 members, three-year-old FarmersOnly.com puts a twist on traditional online dating services by focusing in on singles who prefer the rural or rustic lifestyle. In an interview with Online Dating Magazine, founder Jerry Miller said city folk who dream of moving to the country make up 10 percent of his clientele. Miller himself works in Cleveland, but he knows a thing or two about rural life: His public-relations firm handles farms across the Midwest.
High on Hayes
He ranked 33rd on C-SPAN's 2009 poll of historic U.S. presidents, but on Presidents Day this February, Paraguayans celebrated Rutherford B. Hayes as their favorite. Paraguay's affection for the United States' 19th president stems from an 1878 agreement he signed that ceded Paraguay 60 percent of its territory. In response, the nation set up a holiday in his honor, has a Presidente Hayes province (its capital is Villa Hayes) and put his visage on a postage stamp. The praise for Hayes catches even his American enthusiasts off guard. "It appears that they have sort of an inflated view of Hayes' importance in American history," said Tom Culbertson, executive director of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio. "One article said that they thought he was revered only behind Abraham Lincoln within the United States, which certainly isn't the case."
Name that driver
Irish police were on the lookout for a Pole named Prawo Jazdy. After all, the man had over 50 traffic offenses, and each time he gave authorities a different address. But it turns out that Prawo Jazdy is not a man; it's Polish for driving license. Police officers had apparently assumed that the two words listed at the top right corner of the licenses constituted the driver's name and recorded it as such. "It is quite embarrassing to see the system has created Prawo Jazdy as a person with over 50 identities," said a police memo obtained by Irish newspapers. About 200,000 Poles reportedly live in Ireland, attracted by its once-booming economy.
To bark for
Every dog has his day-especially if he's living it up on his owner's dime. Discriminating dog owners near Sydney may soon be dropping off their four-legged friends at PawPaws Urban Retreat, a luxury hotel and spa for dogs only. The idea, says Mandy Richards, PawPaws owner, is to give wealthy Australian jetsetters a luxurious place to leave their pooches rather than hire a dog sitter when the owners are traveling. While at the incense-filled resort, dogs bask in the customized spa, enjoy pet massages and special chef-prepared meals. "For me, it was all about creating something that was great for dogs and great for their owners," Richards told Northside, an Australian newspaper. "I used to ruin my holidays stressing about my dog while she was in the care of a kennel, and I wanted to remove that worry for other people.
A Salt Lake City burglar was apprehended by a method that probably brought back memories of junior high: the wedgie. The burglar was reportedly breaking into a car at the Brickyard Animal Hospital when hospital technician Yvonne Morris spotted him, gave chase, and caught him. She says that as he was squirming to get away, she grabbed his boxer shorts and pulled. She then subdued him with a headlock until help arrived. Police booked him on suspicion of vehicle burglary and other charges.
A very tall tale
A sensational yarn about a woman swimming across the Atlantic was inspiring enough to fool newspaper and wire editors across the world when they reported American swimmer Jennifer Figge had managed to swim from just off the coast of Africa to Trinidad in 25 days. Had editors reached for their calculators, they'd have discovered Figge's claim of swimming 2,100 miles in 25 days was a statistical absurdity. Assuming 16 hours a day of swimming, Figge would have had to maintain an average speed of 5.25 mph for the duration. Australia's Eamon Sullivan set the 100 meter freestyle world record at the Beijing Olympics averaging 4.75 mph. Soon after the story broke, the Associated Press ran a correction, saying Figge swam occasionally, but spent much of her time riding aboard a catamaran.
Fire me now
At least one Michigan resident won't be sorry when he's soon laid off. After all, he asked for it. Cheboygan Drain Commissioner Dennis Lennox campaigned for the office in November on a pledge that he would work to eliminate the position. His reasoning? Cheboygan County has no drainage ditches to regulate. The 24-year-old Republican convinced the county's board of commissioners to approve his request, but the state legislature has final say in the matter.
For every law, there's a cause. And in Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, eating your ballot means possibly facing charges of election fraud. Leading up to the constitutional referendum on Feb. 15 that allowed Chavez to stay in power ad infinitum, a general in charge of elections in the oil-rich South American nation warned anti-Chavez voters that eating their ballot receipts as a protest was a violation of election law. Under Venezuelan law, ballots are counted, but the ballot receipts must be collected also to ensure the electronic counts match the paper receipts.