? Michael Anthony Horne tried to convince police that the powder they found in a container in his truck was the ashes of his cremated grandmother. But they didn't believe him, and when the powder tested positive for methamphetamine, they arrested him. Later tests proved that the powder was indeed human remains, but that was too late for Horne, who spent a month in a San Antonio jail. By the time he was released, he'd lost his job, his pickup, his apartment, and his military reserve status. He also lost his grandma. Repeated testing of the powder destroyed most of her remains.
? You've heard about people who get upset because their neighbors don't take care of their yards. In Charlotte, North Carolina, some people are upset because Mike Perkins cares too much for his lawn. In fact, the homeowners association in Pullengreen has threatened legal action if Perkins doesn't stop cutting his grass. The association hires a landscaping firm to mow all of the yards in the neighborhood. But Perkins feels he does a better job, plus he like to putter around on his riding lawnmower. He has no problem paying his monthly landscape fee; he just wants to do the job himself. Tough luck. "If I didn't like the rules, I'd go somewhere else," said Wilson Haney, a member of the homeowners association board.
? Eric Jacoby and Paul Pollock have filed a class action suit against Ogden Entertainment Services, a concessionaire at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium. The two claim that when they bought beer at a Phillies baseball game Ogden didn't fill their cups to the brim. The suit asks for unspecified damages and an injunction against selling beer in "misadvertised, misrepresented or misleading quantities."
? Perhaps there will be a place for Jacoby and Pollock in the American Museum of Tort Law. That's right. Ralph Nader wants to start a museum in Connecticut dedicated to civil lawsuits. Among the exhibits will be Thalidomide, silicone breast implants, and other products that have been the subjects of lawsuits. Nader also wants to install a mock courtroom where mock lawyers will re-enact great product liability lawsuits from the past.
? When Congress mandated the V-chip for televisions, it promised broadcasters that sporting events and news programs wouldn't have to be rated and that the chip wouldn't block unrated shows. Well, the second half of that promise appears to have been broken. Manufacturers say that the first sets containing V-chips will allow people to block out unrated programs. So broadcasters will either have to rate news and sports or risk viewers' blocking the shows out of their homes.
? You'd think Quebec officials have enough to do trying to stamp out all traces of the evil English language from their province. But they're also busy trying to keep parents from giving their children unusual names, a policy that is typically enforced with little fanfare. Two parents recently ran afoul of the Registrar of Civil Status by naming their daughter Ivory. At first the government refused to allow the name. But the parents hired a lawyer and started a public relations campaign, and the registrar backed down.
? In Hong Kong, two democracy activists were convicted of desecrating the Hong Kong and Chinese flags at a rally calling for the end of one-party rule in China. Defacing the flags became illegal when Hong Kong was handed over to China. The judge who convicted the two said the Chinese flag is "a symbol which represents the state, her people and her land" and "should remain as a sacred symbol respected by all Chinese regardless of their social, political or philosophical beliefs." Funny, I could have sworn I heard members of the U.S. House of Representatives saying something very similar a few months ago.