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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Leave Well-Enough Alone

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In April, police in Copley Township, Ohio, were called to a restaurant where Erik Salmons, 39, was allegedly intoxicated and annoying customers. Officers declined to arrest him but did insist that he leave his truck in the parking lot and call someone for a ride home. Salmons complied; however, at home, Salmons decided that he was insulted at being thought of as intoxicated, so he drove his daughter’s car to the police station and demanded a Breathalyzer test. Of course, he failed the test, and was subsequently arrested.

Coming Soon to Reality TV

 The CMT cable channel has scheduled an August premiere for "Runnin' Wild ... From Ted Nugent," in which the rock singer and avid hunter will spend five episodes training three novices on how to survive in the woods. Then Nugent and his 18-year-old son will try to hunt them down, with the last one to avoid capture declared the winner.

 Whoops!

 In April, sex offender Barry Whaley was under suspicion for failing to register his new address when he made things much worse. While being questioned at a police station in Fairbanks, Alaska, Whaley asked an officer to retrieve a laptop computer from his car so that it would not get stolen. When the officer brought it to him, Whaley mentioned an "amazing" flight simulator program he had been using, which the officer asked to see. As Whaley powered up the computer, a video of child pornography appeared, and Whaley was arrested.

Things People Believe

 Baltimore prosecutors were stuck in their case against cult leader "Queen Antoinette," 40, whom they had charged in the starvation death of a young boy who was being punished for failing to say "Amen" at mealtime. Prosecutors needed the cooperation of the boy's mother, cult member Ria Ramkissoon, 22, but she was refusing to flip on the Queen, whom she believed would eventually resurrect her son from the dead. Finally in March, the judge announced a breakthrough: Ramkissoon would cooperate, but prosecutors would promise in writing to drop all charges if the Queen eventually brings the boy back to life.

Recurring Themes

 People Different From Us: (1) Howard Sheppard, 30, of Deltona, Fla., was sent to Florida Hospital DeLand in January after he found some bullets on the ground and experimented to see what would happen if he struck one with a hammer. (He was shot in the arm.) (2) Eric Fortune, 19, was sent to the Ashtabula County (Ohio) Medical Center in March after nagging his brother into shooting him in the leg. According to a police report, Fortune told his brother that he had always wondered what it was like to get shot. (He found out that it was painful enough to make him cry.)

 Can't Possibly Be True

 Army Sgt. Erik Roberts, 25, was injured in Baghdad in 2006 by a roadside bomb, and his leg required 12 surgeries before supposedly healing. Last year, however, doctors discovered a life-threatening infection in the leg. Roberts underwent a 13th surgery that was covered by his private health insurance, but a costly, rigorous antibiotics regimen was subject to a $3,000 co-pay, so Roberts asked the Department of Veterans Affairs to take care of it. Instead, the agency repeatedly refused, saying that Roberts had gone outside the "system" to save his war-ravaged leg. Only when a CNN reporter called the matter to the attention of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in March did the agency relent.

 Unclear on the Concept

  • The Web site InformationAgePrayer.com offers a daily service of invocations (using voice-synthesizing software) for Catholics, Protestants, Jews or Muslims who are too busy to speak to their gods themselves. Starting each day "reciting" the Lord's Prayer (or the Islamic Fajr) is $3.95 a month. Hail Marys are 70 cents a day for 10. A Complete Rosary Package is $49.95 a month. Each prayer is voiced individually, according to a March report on LiveScience.com, with the subscriber's name on the screen. For Muslim prayers, the computer's speakers point toward Mecca.
  • A 2008 report on crime at U.S. colleges listed the University of California-Davis as having among the five worst rates in the country. Within the University of California system, Davis' rate of sexual assaults was higher than the rates of all other UC schools combined. Nevertheless, in February, according to Sacramento's KTXL-TV, the school's Student Judicial Affairs organization boasted that this record demonstrated the "openness" of the campus, in that students feel "comfortable" enough to report sex crimes.

  2009 Chuck Shepherd