*The New York Times reported in October about the secret life of a 25-year-old British-born daughter of Pakistani immigrants living in Bradford, England, who has changed residences nineteen times in the last five years just to avoid death threats from her own father and brother. They're angry that she refused at age sixteen to accept a family-arranged marriage. The woman said that in her last conversation with her brother, he promised to track her down and kill her "slowly."
*Thomas Tillman pleaded guilty in September in Tampa to beating his son and stepson with a water-soaked leather strap; he videotaped the beating. Tillman said he made the tape so the boys could one day show it to their own kids as a disciplinary aid.
*In June Lake Zurich High School teacher Douglas Petrovitch, age 28, was indicted in Waukegan, Illinois, on six counts related to a scheme of awarding some students good grades if they would allow him to shoplift at stores in which they worked after school. In two instances, said the grand jury, Petrovitch arranged with students to pay about $100 for merchandise worth about $1000.
*Police in Edmond, Oklahoma, issued an arrest warrant in July for Edward M. Jennings, age 37, as the man who toured flea markets, pawn shops, and swap meets over the last two years attempting to sell his homemade box, rigged with computer parts, as an "atomic bomb" for one million dollars. Because Jennings was on the lam, he was unavailable to tell why he thought someone at the flea market might have a million dollars to spend on an atomic bomb.
*In December an industrial tribunal in Bristol, England, deliberated whether the 1996 firing of Gavin Rogers-Ball, age 30, a member of the Wells Cathedral Choir, was justified. The chief complaint against him was that he had bribed a schoolboy in the choir to feign illness on a long bus ride during a tour of Germany so the driver would have to stop, which would enable Rogers-Ball to take a cigarette break. A ten-year-old boy induced himself to vomit in the back of the bus and thus collected the award. His mother says she does not want the boy to grow up thinking this behavior is acceptable.
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*The Times of London reported in July that a $4500 telephone with a built-in stress-linked lie detector had gone on sale in England. The manufacturer said the most promising market is executives who would use the device to gather business information. In a test a reporter called a London nightclub owner to talk about his public claim that he has had sex with more than 2000 women. He scored low, meaning he was probably telling the truth.
*In November two professors from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, announced that, based on their study of ten journalists at the local Times Leader newspaper, Muzak playing at work not only reduced their stress but slightly benefitted their immune systems.
*In August, just after a Hudson Foods processing plant in Nebraska was closed down because of a highly publicized federal investigation that found E. coli bacterial contamination in ground beef, the company suffered another crisis. Hudson's Noel, Missouri, poultry-processing plant became the first American firm to be fined ($300,000) by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to provide sufficient bathroom breaks for employees.
-- By Chuck Shepherd