According to police in Bethlehem, Penn., four kids (ages 9 to 14) grabbed a donation box in August at RiverPlace park (contributions to an organization that maintains the park’s portable toilets) and ran for nearby woods, with several police officers in pursuit. Three boys were caught, but the other made it a little ways into the woods before falling into a manure pit built by homeless people at their encampment.
    About 10 years ago, reported LA Weekly in July, Southern California was awash with hysteria over household “toxic mold,” in which lawyers convinced jurors that a wide range of illnesses was caused by fungi that previously had been minor irritants controlled by ordinary cleansers. (Centers for Disease Control maintains there is no basis for such hysteria and that the only at-risk people are a tiny number vulnerable to specific fungi.) Among the mold alarmists then was announcer Ed McMahon, who famously received a multimillion-dollar settlement by claiming that mold killed his beloved dog. Recently, McMahon even more famously publicly lamented his potential bankruptcy, in large part because no one wanted to buy his house (although the reason now seems more the mortgage credit crisis than the home’s alleged toxicity).
 
COMPELLING EXPLANATION
    Jonathan Williams, 33, was convicted of cocaine possession in England’s Guildford Crown Court in July, as jurors rejected his explanation that the pants he had on (containing the cocaine) were not his.
    That explanation also failed in August in Naples, Fla., for Richard Obdyke, 19, when police found a stolen debit card in his pants. (In both cases, the men said they had no idea whose pants they were wearing.)

RECURRING THEMES
    The Texas criminal justice system continues to astonish. In August, federal judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio ordered a final-hours’ stay of execution for Jeffrey Wood based on serious concerns about his sanity, that the Texas state courts had somehow summarily dismissed. Judge Garcia said substantial evidence supported at least holding a hearing on the issue but that state law seemed to require the inmate to prove his insanity first in order to obtain a hearing on whether he is insane. That, said Garcia, is “an insane system.”

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