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In May the Center for Marine Conservation reported that items found on beaches as a result of recent ocean dumpings included a refrigerator in North Carolina, a washing machine in California, a car in Delaware, twice the number of medical syringes that were found in a similar survey in 1990, 59 packages of debris from 15 different cruise lines, and a container the size of a semitrailer full of melting ice cream. The average weight of trash collected per mile of beach was 667 pounds.

Government in Action

The Seattle Times reported in May that some federal agencies may erect hundreds of outdoor shelters designed to shield employees who smoke from the cold and rain. The shelters, which would probably resemble bus-stop shelters, would cost around $8,000 apiece.

For almost a year California's employment-disability agency paid wealthy physician Gershon Hepner of Century City $266 a month on his stress claim. The district attorney believes Hepner's "stress" was brought on by the fraud, grand theft, and tax evasion he's been charged with. Hepner pleaded guilty to all of them and is awaiting sentencing. State law entitled Hepner to the money because another physician certified that the stress was "job related."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in June that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's executive fleet of cars averages only 6.2 miles per gallon, significantly less than the federally mandated average of 27.5.

In June in Noblesville, Indiana, Judge William Hughes agreed to move his courtroom for one night to a van outside the Deer Creek Music Center so that fans arrested at a Grateful Dead concert for drug possession and other crimes could be processed immediately rather than having to wait overnight. Said the judge, "It's almost a courtesy to them."

A questionnaire that welfare officials in White County, Arkansas, required single mothers to complete in order to receive benefits called for the following information: when and where the mother first had sexual intercourse with the child's father; how often, when, and where after that first time; parties attended with the father; names of any motels, bars, or other places she went with the father; names of all other men with whom she had sexual intercourse while seeing the father; and the regularity and starting dates of her menstrual periods before the pregnancy. Use of the form was discontinued after the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette brought it to the attention of state officials.

Schemes

In May Rod Shealy, a Republican political consultant in South Carolina, was found guilty of violating state campaign laws after he hired an unemployed black fisherman to run for lieutenant governor in 1990 against Shealy's sister. Shealy admitted he did it to scare white voters into going to the polls to vote for his sister.

A bank robber in Reggio Calabria, Italy, made off with around $4,000 in an April robbery. According to police, he was unarmed but obtained the money by hypnotizing a teller.

Mikhail Maley, defense adviser to Russian president Boris Yeltsin, recently proposed that emergency-relief food and supplies be lobbed to remote areas of the world in SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles. In June Aviation Week and Space Technology reported Maley's suggestion and the information that six or seven tons of supplies would fit where the nuclear warheads had been housed.

In May, after Kristin Warford, 20, and Richard Payette, 22, survived a suicide pact, Warford told the Kenosha News that the adventure "was the singular most stupid act in my life." Said she, "After [Payette] sliced his wrists, I'll never forget him looking at me and saying, 'I don't like this. I don't like this at all.' After a while we looked at each other and thought, 'Whoa. This isn't fun. It's dirty. It's messy. It hurts.'"

The Weirdo-American Community

Patrick Tracy, 28, was sentenced in July to ten months in jail in Stuart, Florida, for indecent exposure. Betty Napier had accused him of peering in her window and masturbating almost daily for the last five years. She had called the police 30 times, but they were never able to catch Tracy in the act. She finally set up a video camera and provided the evidence herself.

The Diminishing Value of Life

Clarence Schreiner, 81, was charged in June in Winter Haven, Florida, with killing his wife of 61 years using a hatchet, rope, and butcher knife. Schreiner said his wife provoked him by denying him permission to buy a Cadillac.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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