Auckland, New Zealand, resident Geoff Upson doesn't like potholes, and he really doesn't like it when Auckland Transport is slow to repair them. So when he sees a pothole he spray paints around it, usually just a circle. But sometimes he paints a penis and testicles around the pothole. Auckland Transport has threatened to press criminal charges against Upson for vandalism and graffiti on roadways.
The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has suspended three students after someone reported a photograph on social media showing them at an event not wearing masks. The event was off campus and outdoors. The school barred the three from taking final exams, which means they gained no credits for the semester and lost their tuition.
The Rochester, Minnesota, school board has declared "Black lives matter," "Brown lives matter," "Indigenous lives matter," "Stop Asian hate," and the pride flag to be official "government speech." According to the board's attorney, that means the school system does not have to allow any speech opposing those statements. "So here with adopting the messages that you're adopting as government speech, you're saying these are the messages that we're communicating as a school district and by doing that we're not also creating a forum to allow other types of speech to enter the forum," said board attorney John Edison.
It took six months and the intervention of a local TV station, but officials in Washington, D.C., finally dismissed $5,000 in speeding tickets and penalties issued to Doug and Nancy Nelson, tickets for violations that were actually committed by the people who carjacked Doug Nelson and stole their vehicle at gunpoint. "I got a police report," said Nancy. "How simple is that to say, 'Oh, these are victims, let us help them.'" Police recovered the vehicle pretty quickly, but the tag was missing, and the city refused to issue a new one until the tickets were paid. That meant the couple has been unable to drive their only vehicle for the past six months.
Two firms have been fined $50,000 for leasing dogs in Massachusetts. Credova Financial and Nextep Holdings were providing customers with lease-to-own agreements for dogs, which is legal in some states but not Massachusetts. To settle a legal action filed by the state, the two companies agreed to waive more than $126,000 in remaining lease payments and transfer ownership of dozens of dogs to people who had leased them.
Four District of Columbia police officers were injured and two patrol cars were totaled after the officers engaged in a drag race while on duty. "They decided to drag race each other on Anacostia Avenue at 5 p.m. in the evening," said Sixth District Commander Durriyyah Habeebullah. The officers have been placed on leave pending a full investigation of the incident.
The Albany, New York, city council is considering a "good cause" eviction ordinance. The law would place a limit on rent increases and allow landlords to evict tenants only for specified reasons, such as failure to pay rent and "substantive" lease violation. Debbie Pusatere, president of the New York Capital Region Apartment Association, said the law would take away "the ability for the landlord to bring harmony to the building for the good tenants. If you think about what will happen down the road, the good tenants will leave and the bad tenants will stay."
Officials in Des Moines, Iowa, have ordered the owner of a property hosting a community food pantry to remove the shed housing the pantry or face a fine of $750 and $1,000 for each additional offense, with each day the shed remains on the property counting as an additional offense. City officials say the building violates zoning law, which limits "accessory structures" to side or backyards. The North Des Moines Community Fridge, which organized the pantry, says the city should have more pressing issues than dismantling a food pantry.
Police in Uttar Pradesh, India, have charged Shashank Yadav with spreading misleading information after he tweeted an appeal for oxygen for his dying grandfather. Officials insist there is no oxygen shortage in hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, though media reports indicate that COVID-19 has overwhelmed the healthcare system. Yadav did not reveal what his grandfather was suffering from. Officials said the grandfather died of a heart attack.
An Algerian court has sentenced Said Djabelkhir to three years in prison for insulting Islam, the state religion. Djabelkhir, an Islamic scholar, has argued the animal sacrifice during the Muslim festival of Eid is based on a pre-Islamic pagan ritual. He has also said parts of the Quran, such as the story of Noah's Ark, might be more myth than history.
Raphael Andre, 51, came to the Open Door shelter in Montreal, where he got a meal and a shower. Staff say he would have stayed the night, but due to local rules they had to turn him back out onto the street, where he froze to death. In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Quebec has barred the shelter from allowing people inside after 9:30 p.m.
Following complaints from some parents, Ritenour, Missouri, school district superintendent Chris Kilbride says he may reconsider a policy of sending armed police officers to the homes of students who are failing classes to discuss the reasons they are failing.
In March 2020, the government of Singapore rolled out its TraceTogether cellphone app, which can tell when two phones have been close to each other. It promised the app would only be used when someone tested positive for the coronavirus. The government now says the system is also used for criminal investigations. Singapore residents are required to download the app to enter many workplaces and stores.
When Topeka, Kansas, police came to Michael Scott Dodson's home seeking Michael Eugene Dodson, he told them they had the wrong man. He offered to show them his ID and asked to see their warrant. Instead, one of the officers shoved Dodson up against his truck, pepper-sprayed him, threw him to the ground, and handcuffed him. A few minutes later, they realized they had the wrong guy. They apologized, then gave him a citation for interfering with a police officer.
It took two years and the threat of a lawsuit, but -officials at Harrison High School in Westchester, New York, have allowed Luke Wong to found a campus chapter of the conservative group Young Americans for Freedom. Wong was turned down twice, for reasons he claims were never made clear to him. He says one -administrator suggested he join the debate club or write an op-ed for the school newspaper instead. After the law firm Alliance Defending Freedom took up his case, the school relented.
Hong Kong Broadband Network has blocked access to the news site HKChronicles because of a police order. HKChronicles, which covered last year's pro-democracy demonstrations and documented police abuse of protesters, became the first website blocked under a new public security law imposed by the Chinese government.
Authorities in Egypt have arrested a pastry chef for making cupcakes with penis- and vulva-shaped icing decorations. The arrest came after photos of women eating the cupcakes at a private birthday party at a Cairo club were posted to social media.
The Texas Department of Public Safety issued an amber alert telling people that Chucky, the killer doll from the Child's Play movie series, and Chucky's son Glen were missing. Officials say it was a test of the system that was accidentally sent out.
Jeanne Pouchain has spent the last three years trying to prove to the French government that she is still alive. In 2017, during a long legal dispute, Pouchain was declared dead by a court in Lyon after a former employee claimed she had died. As a result, Pouchain can no longer get a driver's license, a bank account, or health insurance.
Two Hialeah, Florida, motorcycle cops are facing several counts of official misconduct. Prosecutors say Ernesto Arias Martinez and Armando Perez issued multiple citations to drivers they never even pulled over. One woman says she received a letter from the state telling her her license would be pulled because she had not paid six tickets. All were issued on the same day.
In Bulverde, Texas, Brian Johnson decided his daughters Indiana, 10, and Phoenix, 8, should learn about business and start saving money. During the February snow storm that shut down much of the state, the girls gave the extra eggs laid by chickens they raise to neighbors. After it was over, their father set up a bank account and the girls began selling the eggs and saving their money. Well, until someone ratted them out and they got a cease-and-desist letter from the city. "The selling of chicken eggs or any other animal products produced on the property, from a residentially zoned lot is a violation of city ordinance, regardless of the age of the person conducting the sales," the city said in a statement sent to a local TV station.
Body cam video shows two Colorado Springs, Colorado, police officers using their Tasers on Chad Anderson Jr. as he stood in his daughter's hospital room after he refused to give them his phone. Anderson's lawyer says the man was not under arrest and the cops did not show him a warrant for his phone. Anderson's daughter was accidentally struck by a vehicle as his fiancée pulled out of their driveway, and cops were trying to take his phone as part of an investigation of how the girl was injured. Andersen was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer. Those charges were later dropped. Neither he nor his fiancée were charged for the daughter's injury. The police department declined a local TV station's request for comment, citing Anderson's lawsuit against the department.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit last spring, Louis Goffinet, a teacher in Connecticut, started a Facebook fundraiser to buy groceries for families affected by the disease. He raised more than $40,000, which he used to fund 140 family grocery trips, 125 family dinners, 80 Thanksgiving pies, 31 Thanksgiving dinners, and rental assistance for five families, as well as helping 20 people buy Christmas gifts for their children. And this February, the IRS sent Goffinet a 1099-K form, telling him the money he raised was taxable income. He owes $16,000, but with the help of an accountant he hopes to fight that bill.
The Minden, Louisiana, police department says it is investigating after video showed officers punching and kicking a man they were trying to subdue. Officers had responded to a call of a man down in the street. They say the man was incoherent and appeared to be under the influence of some substance and when they tried to help him he began to struggle with him. The man's family says he was walking his grandchild to school and had a seizure. The child can be seen nearby in video of the scene. One officer, who was seen in the video kicking the man, has been placed on administrative leave.
Scottish police gave Maureen Hogg, 82, a £60 ($83 U.S.) fine for breaking a COVID-19 curfew by attending a friend's 70th birthday party. Hogg's granddaughter says Hogg has been vaccinated for the disease as were all of the other attendees at the party. Those people were also fined by police for attending the party.
Hope Cozart says her 11-year-old son Maddox was given an in-school suspension and confined to an isolated cubicle for more than a week at Raymond Mays Middle School in Troy, Texas, because he wore his hair braided atop his head. Cozart says school officials told her the hairstyle violated a rule in the student handbook that says boys' hair "may not be worn in a ponytail, top knot, bun, or similar styles." Troy Independent School District Superintendent Neil Jeter told a local TV station he could not comment on disciplinary actions taken against any student.
One Loveland, Colorado, police officer has been put on paid leave and another moved to desk duty after a 73-year-old woman sued the department for an arrest in which her attorney says she suffered a broken arm, dislocated shoulder and sprained wrist. The attorney says the woman has dementia. Staff at a local Walmart called cops after Karen Garner reportedly tried to shoplift $13.88 in merchandise. Garner left without the merchandise. Body cam footage shows Officer Austin Hopp calling to her outside the store. When Garner refused to speak to him, he grabbed her and threw her to the ground. As Garner repeatedly says "I am going home," Hopp and Officer Daria Jalili handcuff her.
Australia's borders have been closed since March 2020 in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, and Health Minister Greg Hunt says he can't guarantee the borders will reopen, even if the entire country gets vaccinated against the disease. "We still have to look at a series of different factors: transmission, longevity [of vaccine protection] and the global impact, and those are factors which the world is learning about," he said during a press conference. Some 36,000 Australians remained trapped overseas because of the border shutdown.
In New York City, Brooklyn prosecutors say they will ask for as many as 90 convictions in cases investigated by police officer Joseph Franco to be thrown out. Prosecutors in the city's other boroughs are expected to also ask that cases, most involving low-level drug offenses, handled by Franco be thrown out. Franco was charged with perjury and misconduct after investigators in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office found video that showed several drug buys Franco claimed to witness did not happen or he was not in a position to see them if they did.
A man in the Philippines died after police forced him to do 300 squats for breaching a COVID-19 curfew. Darren Manaog Peñaredondo left his home to buy water. But he was caught by police and forced to perform exercises in punishment. Human Rights Watch says people violating COVID-19 restrictions in the Philippines are being abused, saying that officials locked five young people in a dog cage and have forced people to sit in the midday sun for breaking the rules.
The British government is allowing pubs to reopen, with one catch. Drinkers will have to present their phones to pub staff to show they have registered on the National Health Services COVID-19 test-and-trace app. The app alerts people if they have been close to someone who tested positive for the disease. Pubs that don't comply with the requirement may be fined up to £1,000 ($1,370 U.S.).