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At least they have Footbol 

Brazilians armed against their poor

Panic rooms: Uncontrolled crime (eight times the murder rate of New York City) and a huge wealth disparity (most people either fabulously rich or appallingly poor, with few in the middle) have caused the 1 million wealthiest residents of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to protect themselves by living in 300 gated communities (and have caused some to avoid the city's crime and squalor by traveling exclusively by helicopter), according to a June Washington Post dispatch. About 4,000 people a year without helicopter access armor-plate their cars at twice the price of the car. One walled community (Alphaville) houses 30,000 people, protected by 1,100 armed guards who keep the grounds under constant surveillance and pat down the servants as they head home from work. Poor people skills: Among recent comments accompanying the confessions of criminals: Jermarr Arnold, in an interview shortly before his January execution in Huntsville, Texas, explaining his record of two murders and two dozen rapes, said: "Sometimes I feel paranoid and threatened, and I [lash] out. I'm not very good with people." And Pattaya, Thailand, police Sgt. Major Charchai Suksiri, 50, explaining why his wife of 25 years was still alive after he fired several shots at her and then several more later the same day in her hospital room: "Luckily, I ran out of bullets before [she could die]." Least competent criminals: Louis Papakostas, 35, was sentenced to eight years in prison on drug charges in Corpus Christi, Texas, in May. He had been convicted in 1987 and had gone on the lam for nearly 15 years, but he ran into his prosecutor at a restaurant in May and decided to say a nostalgic hello, apparently believing that authorities were not interested in him anymore. Papakostas even had to jog the prosecutor's memory, but once that was done, the prosecutor notified police. Latest cat news: Correctional Service of Canada was recently rethinking its policy of permitting inmates to keep cats in their cells in two British Columbia prisons after guards complained of dirty litter boxes during prisoner shakedowns and after several drug-sniffing dogs in the facility had gotten hurt tangling with the cats (Mission, B.C.; May). And a previously docile Siamese cat went nuts and mauled a family of four and its baby sitter over several hours, repeatedly launching itself at family members and clawing them bloody, until police subdued it (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; May). Forked up: In June, the Michigan House of Representatives considered banning tongue-forking surgery, but by 53-43 decided such bodily transformations were none of the government's business. (The issue had come to light when Bay City, Mich., tattoo artist Seth Griffin began publicly seeking a surgeon for his tongue-separation surgery after once performing it on himself only to see the tongue eventually fuse back together.) Our civilization in decline: The U.N. World Food Summit, devoted to helping the 800 million people starving worldwide, opened in Rome with a luncheon of lobster, foie gras and goose stuffed with olives for the 3,000 limousine-using delegates (June). Officials at California's Lawrence Livermore Laboratory decided that their brand-new, $62 million storage facility for low-level radioactive waste was not secure enough from terrorists and that until modifications were made, the waste would continue to be stored outside, underneath a tent (May). The principal of Franklin Elementary School (Santa Monica, Calif.) banned the game Tag at lunchtime, in part because, she wrote, whoever is "it" is a "victim," "which creates a self-esteem issue" (May).Also, in the last month: Opponents of a planned prison near Kaikohe, New Zealand, petitioned the High Court to halt construction because officials had not considered the environmental impact of "taniwha" (folkloric monsters in the area). The deputy director of Child Support Enforcement for the District of Columbia was sued by his own office for foot-dragging on support for his own 20-year-old, born-out-of-wedlock son. 2002 CHUCK SHEPHERD
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