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Getting the dirt on frisky plants



Auckland, New Zealand, biologist Larry Jensen and computer animationist Andrew Chung announced in March that they had produced a video depicting the sex lives of moss plants. Said Jensen, "Plants may not walk around and hold hands the way humans do, but they have ways of bringing eggs and sperm together that are very clever." For his next video, Jensen is talking to "two experts on fern sperm."

Put a sock in it

In a Liverpool, England, court in June, lovers Steven Bain, 27, and Steven Gawthrop, 31, were sentenced to 18 months in prison for gross indecency for various "perverted acts." Among the men's exploits revealed at trial: They are foot fetishists and had tricked thousands of people into giving up socks, claiming they were collecting for a charity. Police found the men's apartment to have an 18-inch-high "carpet" of socks and about 4,000 more wrapped in sandwich bags, each tagged with a donor's name.

Chief complaints

In February, according to a report on the Agence France Presse wire, Cairo lawyer Mustafa Raslan filed a $1 billion lawsuit in Damanhur, Egypt, against President Clinton, alleging that Clinton's alleged sexual antics make it more difficult for him to raise his own children with good moral standards. "I don't know what to tell (them)," he said. (In December, Sheik Buddy Rasheed, who is the mayor of Bassilya, Jordan, told reporters he wanted to sue Clinton for naming his dog Buddy, which has caused Rasheed a loss of prestige locally, but that he was having trouble finding a lawyer to take the case.)

Kid's stuff

Kid's stuff

In April, the CIA debuted its home page for children, featuring creative games and gimmicks such as allowing kids to put disguises on models' bodies and to maneuver virtual guard dogs to sniff for explosives. (On the other hand, a month later, the agency failed to detect that India was about to test a nuclear weapon.)

Hard sell

Hard sell

William Walker was charged in March in Albuquerque, N.M., with trying to hack through a man's apartment door with an ax after the resident said he wasn't interested in buying speakers from him. And in April, two women were preparing for trial after being charged with murder in Frankfort, Germany, for torturing and stabbing to death an underachieving male colleague in a door-to-door magazine sales group they were a part of.

Blade ruiner

According to a May report in The New York Times, biologists and New Jersey authorities still do not know why the plastic grass at Giants Stadium died last year. The Astroturf first turned from green to blue and then began falling out in large clumps, and the best guess so far is that a fungus of some kind infected it.

Lines of reasoning

In April, the city of Los Angeles, by a 9-to-1 vote of the city council, agreed to pay $9 million to five surviving victims of a drunk driver whose car wandered across a center line and hit the van in which they were riding, unbuckled. A court in 1997 awarded the victims $29 million and said the city had to pay 57 percent of that because if the yellow line in the center of the road had been brighter, the drunk driver might not have crossed over.

Full arrest

In May, the parents of Mr. Warren A. Wise filed a $100 million lawsuit against the Long Branch, N.J., police for the wrongful death last November of their son. According to police, Mr. Wise ran a red light, then sped away from an officer, then fled the car into the 45-degree waters of the Atlantic Ocean, where he soon lapsed into a coma from which he never recovered. The family believes the police should have risked hypothermia to swim out 200 yards and nab Mr. Wise, who, until he fell unconscious, was still trying to escape.

Cool customer

In a March 1998 story on internal theft in the local school system, The Times-Picayune in New Orleans reported on Edwards Elementary School employee Ernestine Falls, who stole a refrigerator from the school and then, when she realized it was broken, called the school's maintenance department to come fix it. Then, when the worker told Falls that he knew the refrigerator was stolen, Falls not only did not offer hush money but didn't even offer a tip for the repair job. Not surprisingly, he ratted her out.

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