Only the Government: Stung by criticism in 2007 that they were neglecting severely wounded service members, the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs have now gone extreme the other way, routinely providing at least a half-dozen (and as many as two dozen) caseworkers per patient. A Government Accountability Office report in October said the result was “duplication, confusion and turf battles,” according to a November Washington Post story, leaving the members and their families often conflicted and overwhelmed about prognoses. At times the Pentagon (serving active-duty personnel) and the VA (ex-military) balked over coordinating their treatments. The agencies, however, told the Post that any duplication was intentional, even though the Post cited military families who each wished they had a single, authoritative case manager they could turn to. A GAO official called the situation “crazy” and “disturbing.”
Can’t Possibly Be True The U.S.-Pakistan relationship has reached “the nadir of absurdity,” wrote Wired.com, after a December report in The Atlantic revealed that Pakistan “secures” its tactical nuclear weapons by moving them around the country in ordinary unmarked vans (“without noticeable defenses”). It supposedly uses the “Econolines of Doom,” “hidden” in plain sight on the country’s highways, because it fears the U.S. (its “ally”) would steal the bombs if it knew where they were. Dizzyingly, wrote Wired, the U.S. funds Pakistan yet regularly invades it, though desperately needing Pakistan’s help in Afghanistan, even as Pakistani soldiers fight alongside Afghan insurgents against the U.S.
Least Competent Plans (1) L.B. Williams, a black man married to a white woman in Panama City, Fla., reported that the Ku Klux Klan had burned a cross in his driveway in November and left a threatening note. However, the note did not demand that the couple move from the neighborhood; it demanded that they stay. Since the Klan is not known for supporting mixed-race couples, the police were suspicious and ultimately charged Williams with making the threats himself — to frighten his wife into abandoning the divorce she had recently requested. (2) Paul Moran, possessing (according to his lawyer) “considerable intellectual ability,” nonetheless attempted a procedure to turn his own feces into gold (and was sentenced in October to three months in jail in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, after accidentally setting his apartment on fire in the process).
Cry for Help Math teacher Paul LaDuke, 75, was fired in November from the Schaumburg (Ill.) Christian School after a student reported seeing him brazenly masturbate, with his pants lowered, as he sat behind his desk in a full classroom. LaDuke had been at the school for 26 years, and police believe (according to a Chicago Tribune report) he had “committed similar acts at the school several times a year for a decade or longer.”
Bad Shots (1) A 22-year-old man was shot in the face on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in September; his companion on the camping trip thought he was shooting at a bear. (2) An 85-year-old man was shot in the face in Augusta, Ga., in September; a female acquaintance thought she was shooting at an opossum. (3) A 20-year-old woman was shot in Vilas County, Wis., in July; deputy sheriff Ty Peterson (a relative) thought he was shooting at a cougar.