Motorist Catherine Donkers got a ticket in Portage County, Ohio, on May 8 for not having her baby strapped in, mainly because she was breast-feeding it while she drove. Rather than pay the $100 fine, Donkers' husband, Brad Barnhill, demanded a trial with himself as the defendant, in that his First Christian Fellowship for Eternal Sovereignty teaches that the husband must take responsibility for all of his wife's public actions. (That religion's principal focus, according to founder Christopher Hansen, is keeping "God-given rights" free of "encroachment of the Beast," which is defined as the government.) Barnhill said that at his next court appearance, he will make a citizen's arrest of the prosecutor.
Count your chickens
Increasingly, chickens are being kept as pets in suburban homes, according to an Associated Press writer in June (though reporting with scant evidence). A Bala Cynwyd, Pa., family has nine chickens, which are "aesthetically pleasing," said the owner, even "cool." A Cedar Hill, Mo., woman recalled the 38 chickens she has had over the years and said "the best part" was "knowing them as individuals." Another Bala Cynwyd woman said her chickens are faithful in the way they follow her around the yard and are "very sweet. They give back."
A Providence, R.I., high-school teacher, Michael Dame, was charged with assault in June when, being taunted by a truant student who had stuck his head in Dame's classroom, Dame slammed the door, catching the student's head inside.
In June, the St. Paul Pioneer Press profiled counselors Lynn Baskfield and Ann Romberg, who use the technique of "equine-assisted coaching" to help clients like Mari Harris, who wants to boost her singing career. In a typical session at a Stillwater, Minn., farm, Harris would ride and walk a horse until struck with some dramatic insight on how to achieve show-business success.
Said Romberg, "It's much less difficult to accept feedback from a horse than a human." Another client said that when his usually passive horse suddenly sped up in a frenzy, "It got me thinking." "I `had` let `my` business lead me," he realized, apparently for the first time, and thus started drawing a better balance between work and family.
Anthony Perks, an endocrinologist and professor of gynecology at the University of British Columbia, reporting in the July issue of Discover magazine, set out his unique theory of the symbolic meaning of the prehistoric Stonehenge monument in England: The paired, capped stones (one smooth, one rough) represent the female's smooth skin as against the male's rough skin. The smooth stones match the locations of the vulva's labia minora and labia majora, with an altar stone in the position of the clitoris. "Stonehenge," he said, "could represent the opening by which the earth mother gave birth to the plants and animals on which ancient people so depended."
America's most underrated highway safety problem appears to be senior drivers who mistakenly step on the accelerator instead of the brake: Henry Clax, 78, Jersey City, N.J., hit three lampposts and then 13 people coming out of a Jehovah's Witnesses assembly in April; Marcella Stahly, 63, of Albuquerque, tore through the front wall of a fruit market in March; Nahid Nainzadeh, 64, of New Fairfield, Conn., plowed into a bank in April; Leonard Borok, 81, of Coral Springs, Fla., crashed through the front of a post office in May; Waunona Reed, 85, of Crescent City, Ore., struck 26 people leaving an Assembly of God church in January.
The smoking scalp
A suspected burglar in Albany, Ore., apparently escaped in June after failing in his quest to break into a warehouse. But he left behind his bolt cutters, some burned clothing and part of his scalp. Police said the man had attempted to cut through a 480-volt line and probably had "severe" burns.
Don Juan de military
Investigative work by a scorned woman turned up more than 50 other women who were victims of the same man, 29-year veteran, U.S. Army Col. Kassem Saleh (who was most recently stationed in Afghani-stan). Saleh had struck up e-mail romances with the women and wrote "the most intoxicating love letters" one woman had ever read while assuring her (at the same time he was also assuring others) that they would soon marry.
The 5-foot-10 Saleh created at least one skeptical woman, though: Saleh had claimed to be 6-foot-5, but when a first-meeting date with the woman neared, he wrote that he had shrunk about 5 inches due to repeated parachute jumps. Saleh issued a public apology to the women after The New York Times outed him.
In May, Albert Jackson Dowdy, 22, in Grants Pass, Ore., took incompetence to a new level. According to police, he tried to smash a glass door with a paint can, but the can broke open. Dowdy eventually got into the home, said police (total take: a can of tuna fish and a box of oatmeal), but on his way out stepped in the spilled paint and created tracks to a nearby motel, where police eventually arrested him.