*In February Michael Knowles, awaiting trial in Virginia for killing his wife, filed a $100 million lawsuit against advice columnist Ann Landers, charging that she had defamed him by publishing his letter on how tough the Internet can be on marriages. Wrote Knowles: "Today is my wife's 44th birthday, but she is not around to celebrate it. I took her life because of an affair that started on the Internet." Said Knowles's lawyer Max Jenkins, who had Knowles enter a not guilty plea, the letter "hurts my case."
*The Wall Street Journal reported in April about the growing academic discipline of "whiteness studies," whose pioneering professors and students met recently at the University of California, Berkeley. Among the aspects under study: Spam diets, gun shows, and the white dominance of shopping malls and the Internet. Said a doctoral student, rejecting the suggestion that whiteness studies lack seriousness: "They said that about ... 'Madonna studies' too."
The Continuing Crisis
*David Price, age 34, serving life in prison in Edinburgh, Scotland, for the 1984 rape-murder of his girlfriend on Valentine's Day, got a chaperoned, one-evening pass in February so that he could go downtown to attend the premiere of the opera Odyssey, which he had written while behind bars.
*In December store manager Wiley Berggren was presented awards for sales and productivity at a Southwest Convenience Stores company dinner in Odessa, Texas. About two hours later he was fired because of his actions the night before: When three kids tried to steal a case of beer and one of them attacked him, Berggren wrestled the attacker to the ground, thus violating the company's rule of not challenging thieves.
*In February anesthesiologist Frank Ruhl Peterson, age 45, was sentenced in Hazelton, Pennsylvania, to ten to twenty-three months in prison for severely diluting the narcotics given to twelve surgery patients, thus exposing them to virtually anesthesia-free operations. According to police, Peterson stole the drugs to feed his own habit and said he had actually shorted more than 200 patients.
*In January Ludwig Fainberg, the owner of Porky's strip club in Hialeah, was indicted as the middleman in various drug schemes, including the attempted purchase of a $5.5 million Russian attack submarine by Colombian drug lords, who allegedly wanted it to run cocaine to California.
*Ireland's first legislation permitting divorce took effect February 27, but a man in Dublin apparently was so eager to shed his wife that he petitioned a court in January for a divorce in advance, on the grounds that he was seriously ill and might not live to see his freedom. (In fact, he married again a few days after the court granted his petition; a few days after that he died.)
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Bad Times for Good Samaritans
*In January Ron Seaward, along with a police officer, stopped to help a driver whose car was in a ditch near London, Ontario. While he was pushing that car out, two cars hit his truck. As the officer was writing up the report for Seaward's insurance company, he discovered that Seaward's driver's license had expired (for which he was later fined).
*In December in Louisville, Kentucky, four men robbed a bank but were halted during their getaway by Danny Johnson; they dropped the money and fled. Despite the temptation to skim at least a little off the top, Johnson stood guard over all the loot until police arrived. The bank people called Johnson three days later and informed him that his loan application for $500, submitted before the bank robbery, had been denied.
-- By Chuck Shepherd