By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
*In February North Korean Woo Yong Gak, 69, was released from prison in South Korea, where he had been detained since 1958 and was the world's longest-held political prisoner. Still 38 years short of that record, in a jail in Bradenton, Florida, Palestinian researcher Mazen Al-Najjar just completed his second year of confinement without being told of the evidence against him. Al-Najjar, a U.S. resident for 15 years with three American-born children, faces deportation for some sort of association with a terrorist group, the nature of which the U.S. Justice Department has repeatedly refused to disclose, citing national security.
*In March for the first time, not only was the Miss Thailand beauty contest televised nationally, but so was the Miss Tiffany Universe contest, which is the equivalent for Thailand's male-to-female transsexuals. An April Associated Press report from Bangkok concluded, after polling many viewers, that at least one of the Tiffany Universe finalists made Miss Thailand look "positively mousy" and that the Tiffany Universe winner was "every bit as feminine" as Miss Thailand.
First Things First
*In April several fire trucks speeding down the Massachusetts Turnpike with sirens blaring and lights flashing, en route to help battle a brushfire around the town of Westfield, were delayed a few minutes when a tolltaker insisted on charging each driver. A turnpike spokesman said the tolltaker had been counseled. Similarly, in February, an ambulance rushing a severely burned man from Gibraltar to Seville, Spain, could not escape the $4 toll.
*Firefighters in Kawasaki, Japan, freed a five-month-old girl from a coin-operated locker in April after her parents had deposited her there while they had dinner at a restaurant. They were reprimanded but not arrested.
*Edmonton, Alberta, pizza delivery driver Thomasz Leszczewski, 26, was arrested in April and charged with a hit-and-run fatality. According to police, Leszczewski hit a 43-year-old pedestrian while out on a delivery but merely proceeded with his rounds, and police caught up to him dropping off a pizza a few minutes later.
The New PTA
*Richmond, California, March: The father of a fourth-grader stabbed her teacher in a disagreement over her progress. Danville, Kentucky, February: The grandmother of a middle-school student smashed the teacher in the head with the name plate on his desk in a disagreement about the student's progress. Boston, March: Disputing a D-minus in conduct received by his son, a man punched his son's teacher in the face, breaking his jaw. (The father is also an associate minister of the Greater Love Tabernacle.)
-- By Chuck Shepherd