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In January Rebecca O'Flaherty, a doctoral candidate in entomology at the University of California at Davis, mounted an exhibition of "maggot art" at the Capital Athletic Club in Sacramento; she and two colleagues created the work by dunking maggots in nontoxic paint and letting them writhe around on sheets of paper.

Government in Action

Revised public-housing regulations in Loebau, Germany, have reduced the size of the apartments certain welfare recipients are entitled to. But since there aren't enough apartments of the correct size available, Reuters reported in February, the tenants have been allowed to remain in their old, larger apartments so long as they only use the square footage permitted them under the new rules. Inspectors check regularly to make sure no one's cheating, and the head housing official said the tenants seem fine with the arrangement, but one 49-year-old woman told the Dresdner Morgenpost, "It feels stupid not being able to go into all the rooms of your apartment anymore."

Compelling Explanations

Sticking with the classics: Accused of numerous violent crimes (including bank robberies, carjacking, shooting at a police officer, and soliciting the murder of witnesses), Andre Henry was confronted by prosecutors at his February trial in Philadelphia with a recording of what seemed to be his confession to a cellmate who'd been wearing a wire. Unfazed, he testified that the speaker was actually his twin brother, with whom he'd earlier switched cells. (Henry, who according to prosecutors has no twin brother, was convicted on 27 counts.)

Physicians, Heal Thyselves

A pair of lawsuits went to trial in Los Angeles in February: psychiatrist David Martorano alleged he'd been unfairly denied a promotion by UCLA's medical school after he broke off an affair with his supervisor, Heather Krell, while Krell claimed in a countersuit that Martorano had slandered her by making up the affair story. Among the nine psychiatrists taking the stand were Martorano's own doctor, who testified that Martorano was "addicted" to making women fall in love with him, and several other female doctors in the psych department, who provided details of their sex lives after the judge agreed to assign them code names to protect their reputations. The jury ultimately ruled there had been an affair but that Martorano suffered no undue consequences, and no damages were awarded. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported, Krell's separate sexual-harassment suit against another male UCLA psychiatrist is scheduled for trial this fall, and Martorano, recently sued by a neighbor in Malibu for allegedly killing a dog, filed a countersuit alleging the neighbor had told his patients he was a dog killer.

Leading Economic Indicators

In an attempt to boost daytime traffic, the Pascha, a brothel in Cologne, Germany, introduced an early-bird special in March: patrons aged 66 and over get half off on all services rendered between noon and 5 PM.

Things People Believe

As part of a January guilty plea, 34-year-old Stacey Finley of Farmerville, Louisiana, admitted to defrauding 22 people of a total of nearly $1 million. Over a six-year period, prosecutors said, the charismatic Finley convinced her "middle-class, educated" victims (mostly her husband's friends and relatives) that she could protect them against serious illness by having an orbiting satellite scan their bodies for problems and then sending her fellow CIA agents to inject them with secret medicines while they slept.

Bert Brooks, a veterinarian in Sacramento, told local KMAX TV news in February about his treatment system, called "harmonic translation." After determining an animal's problem--typically by touching the body of a human medium who holds the animal on a leash, though he can also perform diagnoses over the phone--he sends its owner "electronic energy" supplements online via "e-capsules," colorful images downloaded to the owner's computer that the animal must watch for a half hour daily. Brooks admitted he wasn't entirely sure how the method works: "I didn't learn this in vet school."


After Clarence Horner of Lincoln, Nebraska, died last year at age 54, his family discovered a storage locker he'd rented containing 47 gravestones. According to a February Associated Press article, police guessed he'd been stealing them for years and had so far matched two with the graves they came from.

Police Blotter

According to the Daily Chronicle of Bozeman, Montana, a resident called the local sheriff's department in March to report "strange noises coming from underneath her house," which she attributed to "people from the 'Underworld'" who were trying to get her to leave. She said her house had at some point "been replaced by another house in the middle of the night," and that the original "was now being stored in an undisclosed location." She also said corned beef had repeatedly been stolen from her refrigerator.

High-Stakes Crime

Marshall Wolbers, 56, was arrested in Lake Bluff in February for allegedly ripping off at least 20 day spas in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. According to spa workers, Wolbers--whom they described as about six feet tall and possibly 300 pounds--would show up for a full course of treatment, receive manicures, scrubs, and other services, then skip out before the massage without paying. A pedicurist told the AP she planned to attend at least one court appearance: "I just want to look at him, like 'You jerk, you didn't even tip me. You made me rub your gross feet and listen to you for an hour and a half.'"

Least Competent Criminals

In January a 17-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly stealing a snowmobile from a Yamaha dealership in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. According to police, staff hadn't yet noticed the snowmobile was missing when the boy brought it back in for service the following day.

News That Sounds Like a Joke

Biologists at Germany's University of Jena announced in January that after three years they were terminating a research project on animal locomotion because they were tired of trying to get their subject, a sloth named Mats, to move around.

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

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