Curses, Foiled Again
Two thieves stole $500 worth of Christmas decorations from a lawn in Sweetwater, Fla., that included a Mickey Mouse on a horse, hugging penguins, Snoopy on a doghouse and Santa on a sled. Police arrested two women who lived less than a block away after victim Inrid Alemendarez notified police that she’d spotted those same stolen items on their lawn. (Associated Press)
• While acting as his own attorney at his robbery trial in Lehigh County, Pa., defendant Philome Cesar, 32, asked a witness who’d been robbed at gunpoint to describe what the robber sounded like. “He sounded like you,” Daryl Evans testified. The jury broke into laughter. Moments later, Cesar asked another witness to describe the robber’s voice. “It sounded exactly like you,” Charlotte Sine answered. Cesar dropped that line of questioning. After a rambling closing argument, during which Cesar paraphrased a quote attributed to deceased Family Circle cartoonist Bill Keane (“The things that happened yesterday are history”), the jury promptly pronounced him guilty. (Allentown’s The Morning Call)
Kisses of Death
Merlin Holland marked the 111th anniversary of the death of his grandfather, the writer Oscar Wilde, by unveiling Wilde’s renovated tomb, now declared to be kiss-proof. The oft-visited Paris tomb had been closed for repairs because it was “being eaten away by lipstick” caused by “endless women kissing it,” according to actor Rupert Everett, who appeared at the unveiling ceremony. A glass screen now prevents visitors from touching the stonework, although tourists have already started leaving their lipstick marks on a nearby tree. (BBC News)
The Iranian-born owner of Eastern Shore Toyota outside Mobile, Ala., sued Bob Tyler Toyota in nearby Pensacola, Fla., after Bob Tyler’s sales staff branded their Alabama competitor “Taliban Toyota” and told customers that anyone who bought cars there was funding terrorism. Bob Tyler’s attorney argued that Shawn Esfahani failed to prove the slurs caused his sales to slump and suggested the jury clear Esfahani’s name by ruling in his favor but awarding only one dollar in damages. Unswayed, the jury awarded Esfahani $7.5 million. (Mobile Press-Register)
• Three softball players who were disqualified from playing for their team in the 2008 Gay Softball World Series filed a federal lawsuit against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, claiming discrimination because they are bisexual, not gay. The organization banned Stephen Apilado, Laron Charles and John Russ after other teams protested that their San Francisco team had exceeded the league limit of two heterosexual players per team. The NAGAAA settled before the case went to trial in Seattle by paying the players an undisclosed sum and awarding their team the second-place trophy it was denied. (Associated Press)
• Jesse Dimmick filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Jared and Lindsay Rowley, seeking $235,000 in damages. Dimmick, who was convicted of kidnapping the Topeka, Kan., newlyweds in 2009 while fleeing from police, contends that they reached a legally binding, verbal contract that they would hide him for an unspecified amount of money. Instead, they fled the house when he fell asleep, and the police rushed in. His suit claims that they reneged on their contract, “resulting in my being shot in the back by authorities.” Complaining the gunshot “almost killed me,” Dimmick stated that his hospital bills alone “are in excess of $160,000, which I have no way to pay.” (The Topeka Capital-Journal)
• A suit filed by the family of Agnes Zimmick charges that after her death, Zimmick’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter were at the cemetery and watched as graveyard workers “jumped up and down on the casket, apparently to force the casket into a gravesite which was not large enough for the casket … repeatedly walked along the top of the casket … [and] also repeatedly struck said casket with poles.” The suit against the Catholic Cemeteries Association of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh seeks a jury trial and at least $25,000 from each defendant. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
What Next: Pledge Drives?
China’s government has banned commercials interruptions in dramatic programs lasting at least 45 minutes. An official at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television declared that eliminating ads from programs would make the shows conform to “public interests and aspirations” and “help TV dramas develop in a scientific and healthy manner.” But the move also follows the Communist Party’s announced intention to raise TV’s entertainment and ideological value to hold the attention of people who’re increasingly turning to the Internet for alternate viewpoints. The new rule came after most advertising contracts for the new year had already been signed. TV advertising revenue in 2010 amounted to $78 billion, much of which supported the nation’s 3,240 TV stations. “The government could really take our lives if it bans all commercial breaks during the most-watched TV series,” one station executive said. (BBC News)
Walk a Crooked Mile
After Jack Johnson, 62, pleaded guilty to soliciting and accepting more than $1 million in bribes during his term as county executive of Prince George’s County, Md., his lawyers asked for compassion at his sentencing, pointing out that their client, who entered the courtroom using a cane, has advanced Parkinson’s disease and insisting that a lengthy prison term would amount to “a death sentence for him.” Prosecutors disputed the claim, citing photos from the U.S. Attorney’s office that show Johnson playing golf and carrying a full bag of clubs. U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte sentenced Johnson to 87 months in federal prison, labeling his crimes “a deliberate march down a long path of kleptocracy.” (The Washington Post)
The Gloves Are Off
Some Michigan residents have accused Wisconsin of stealing their state’s long-standing mitten image after the Travel Wisconsin Website posted a knit mitten shaped like Wisconsin. Michiganders have long held up a hand to show where they live, representing the state’s outline and sometimes adding the other hand showing the state’s Upper Peninsula to the one-handed state outline. “Wisconsin already took the Rose Bowl from us this year,” Dave Lorenz of Travel Michigan said. “They’re not going to take the Mitten State status from us.” Lisa Marshall of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism insisted the winter tourism campaign isn’t an attempt to usurp Michigan’s claim to be the mitten state. She explained that its fall promotion used a leaf shaped like Wisconsin and that it’ll have a new image for spring. (Associated Press)
Compiled from the press reports by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.