Baking Soda Is Dangerous

Almost all law enforcement agencies in America use the Scott Reagent field test when they discover powder that looks like cocaine, but the several agencies that have actually conducted tests for “false positives” say they happen up to half the time. In October, the latest victims (husband-and-wife truck drivers with spotless records and Pentagon clearances) were finally released after 75 days in jail awaiting trial — for baking soda that tested “positive” three times by Arkansas troopers (but, eventually, “negative” by a state crime lab). (Why do police love the test? It costs $2.) The truck drivers had to struggle to get their truck back and are still fighting to be re-cleared to drive military explosives. [KUTV (Salt Lake City), 10-31-2016]


Chic magnet GaryZerola was arraigned in Boston in November on two counts of rape. He is a defense lawyer, former prosecutor, one-time “Most Eligible Bachelor” winner, and was a finalist in the first season of ABC-TV’s “The Bachelor.” He was also accused of two counts of rape in 2006 (but acquitted at trial) and another in 2007 (but the charge was dropped). [Los Angeles Times, 11-23-2016] [Boston Herald, 11-23-2016]

ν San Diego police officer Christine Garcia, who identifies as transgender, was turned away in November as she attempted to enter the Transgender Day of Remembrance at the city’s LGBT Community Center — because organizers thought the sight of a police uniform might upset some people. (Garcia herself was one of the event’s organizers.)

How to Tell If You’re Too Drunk

• On Nov. 16, Richard Rusin, 34, was charged with DUI in St. Charles, Illinois, after he drove off of a street, going airborne, hitting close to the top of one house, rebounding off of another, uprooting a tree (sending it onto a roof), and knocking out electricity to the neighborhood when the car clipped a utility pole guide wire — and his car landed upside down in a driveway. He was hospitalized. [Patch.com (Geneva, Ill.), 11-16-2016]

 Allen Johnson Sr., of Meriden, Connecticut, was driving a tractor-trailer up Interstate 89 near Williston, Vermont on Nov. 2 at 63 mph, when, said state police, he apparently tried to stand up in the cab in order to change pants (enabling the rig to roll over). Johnson registered .209 blood-alcohol; it was 9:30 a.m. [WVIT-TV (West Hartford), 11-3-2016]

The Passing Parade

 (1) Simon Berry, 24, of the English village of Bray, was recently acknowledged by the Guinness Book people for his bungee drop of 246 feet to precision-dunk a biscuit into a cup of tea. (2) A sign posted recently (apparently without fanfare) at the Castle House Inn hostel in Stockholm, Sweden, warns visitors: “It is a criminal offense to smoke or wank on these premises.” (“Wank” is British slang for self-pleasuring.) The sign contains the familiar “not permitted” circle over a crossed-out item — but just the cigarette. [BBC News, 11-17-2016] [The Local (Stockholm), 11-4-2016]

A News of the Weird Classic (February 2013)

ν Cliche Come to Life: The Kerry, Ireland, county council voted in January (2013) to let some people drive drunk. The councillors reasoned that in the county’s isolated regions, some seniors live alone and need the camaraderie of the pub but fear a DUI arrest on the way home. The councillors thus empowered police to issue DUI permits to those drivers. Besides, they reasoned, the area is so sparsely populated that some drivers never encounter anyone else on the road at night. (Coincidentally — or not — “several” of the five councillors voting “yea” own pubs.) [BBC News, 1-22-2013]

The Continuing Crisis

ν Groundbreaking Legal Work: In October, a court in Australia’s Victoria state began considering an appeal on whether three deaf people might be too intellectually challenged to have planned a murder. The prosecutor offered surveillance video of the three in a lobby planning the murder’s details via sign language as they waited for an elevator to take them up to the eventual crime scene. [The Age (Melbourne), 10-4-2016]

About the author

Jamie Moses

Jamie Moses founded Artvoice in 1990

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