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Lead Stories

According to a May report in the New York Daily News, dozens of moneymaking Web sites have been created by parents posting photos of their underage daughters (some as young as six) frolicking in frilly clothing or swimwear. The pages operate like pornography sites, with teaser photos and monthly subscription fees; members get access to the photo archive, "personal" messages from the "models," and in some cases chat rooms. One site gets 3,000 hits a day, and another had 32 million page-views in nine months. Parents quoted in the article said they were helping their daughters with modeling careers or future college expenses.

Toronto's Globe and Mail reported in May that the Chinese government is having trouble controlling the spending and leisure habits of the nation's youth and young adults. Party leaders still appear on "most admired" lists, but so do Bill Gates and the Taiwanese boy band F4. The government recently banned a TV show starring the band but backed down after state-owned TV stations said they needed the advertising revenue.

Shapers of Young Minds

In March middle school teacher Timothy Thomure of Sedalia, Missouri, admitted that he had rubbed a knife blade along one student's finger, among other acts of intimidation, in hopes of getting his students to "loosen up" and interact . . . . In April parents of an eight-year-old boy asked Houston school officials to provide counseling for their child, who was still troubled by an incident three years earlier in which a teacher disciplined him by dumping a cup of cockroaches on his chest . . . . The next month a middle school teacher in Pflugerville, Texas, was fired for allegedly throwing a chair at a student during a "behavior management" class . . . . And last month in Andover, Minnesota, a Sunday-school teacher was convicted of a misdemeanor after advising a teenage boy prone to masturbation to write "What would Jesus do?" on his penis.

The Litigious Society

A woman recently filed a $300,000 claim against Ventura County, California, after her husband, who had been sentenced to a work program for violating probation, stomped a palm frond down into a Dumpster and it snapped back and severed his ear . . . . And last month in Saint Joseph, Missouri, a local restaurant was sued by a couple who alleged that the owner responded to the wife's complaint about an overdone steak by slapping her in the head with it.

Least Competent Criminals

In LaPorte, Indiana, 24-year-old Edward O. Green arrived at the sheriff's station to bail out a friend, and after a deputy asked him to take a seat, he dozed off and began snoring. A deputy who tried to awaken him noticed several small plastic bags of rock cocaine in his open mouth, and Green was arrested for possession.

Unclear on the Concept

The Correctional Service of Canada, which is prohibited from conducting random drug tests, recently touted some prisons for designating certain wings as drug-free zones and allowing inmates to request transfers there. A similar situation has prompted Suffolk County, Massachusetts, to pay its prison guards an annual bonus of $1,000 if they test clean for illegal drugs.

Undignified Deaths

In April a 49-year-old prison inmate in Kingman, Arizona, was killed when he slipped on his own feces and struck his head on the floor of his cell . . . . In May a model-airplane enthusiast in Tucson died after being hit in the chest by his own radio-controlled plane . . . . And in April a 47-year-old woman died when the car she was riding in smashed into a "Welcome to Minnesota" sign on Interstate 94.

Our Civilization in Decline

Last month Brazilian drug king Fernandinho Beira-Mar managed to have a shoulder-launched antiaircraft missile delivered to his cell at Bangu One prison; it was confiscated by authorities . . . . And that same month in Bulls Gap, Tennessee, a federal environmental official warned that every pound of methamphetamine created in home labs produces five pounds of toxic waste.

In the Last Month

In the Algarve region of southern Portugal a man persuaded four different women to stand topless at their windows so that they could receive mammograms through cutting-edge satellite technology . . . . In Vernon, Connecticut, a guilty plea was entered by the "Barbasol bandit," a convenience-store robber who'd disguised himself by slathering shaving cream on his face . . . . And a 280-pound sea lion arose from San Francisco Bay, crossed two runways, and made it to a terminal at SFO airport before it was detected by security.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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