In Defense of Rollback Smiley

It's Wal-Mart's world, we're just shopping in it

The folks at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis took a controversial step in the January edition of their newspaper, fedgazette: They said something nice about Wal-Mart.

The hometown Fed elbowed its way into the shouting match over the notoriously imperial retailer this month when it published the results of an 89-county survey in Minnesota's Ninth District.

"Wal-Mart is widely believed to destroy local firms and jobs and to have a damaging effect on wages," the report noted. "But fedgazette findings suggest the opposite: firm growth, employment and total earnings were somewhat stronger in Wal-Mart counties and, in some cases, even in the retail sector."

Nationally, however, the average Wal-Mart worker makes less than $14,000 a year and requires $2,000 annually in public subsidies for school lunches, health care, and housing. And that's nothing to smile about. —Jeff Severns Guntzel


Networking for Narcs

Dozens of Eden Prairie High School students were tagged as underage drinkers last week when their party photos were discovered on Facebook.

After receiving the damning photos from an anonymous source, school officials updated the statuses of 13 student athletes from "active" to "suspended." One student was even stripped of her National Honor Society membership.

"In some ways, it's understandable," says an Eden Prairie senior who asked that her name not be used. "But I think the punishments were a little ridiculous."

Having seen the writing on the wall, she and others have deleted their Facebook accounts. Which means the next keg party will require the use of an old-fashioned phone tree. —Matt Snyders


Not Tonight, Deer

Is it illegal to have sex with a dead deer? What about a dead horse?

The conduct of Bryan James Hathaway, a 21-year-old Superior, Wisconsin, resident, has forced the courts to grapple with such furry issues in recent years.

Hathaway first gained notoriety in 2005 when he was convicted of killing a horse that he intended to have sex with. He was sentenced to nine months in prison.

Upon release, Hathaway found himself in trouble with the law again almost immediately. This time he was accused of sexually assaulting a dead deer he'd found in a ditch.

Hathaway's attorney argued that his conduct did not violate Wisconsin's laws. "The statute does not prohibit one from having sex with a carcass," lawyer Fredric Anderson wrote in a motion.

Unfortunately for the venison lover, Judge Michael Lucci disagreed, sentencing Hathaway to an additional nine months in jail.

Earlier this month he was back in court again. Hathaway received nine more months of prison time for violating his probation by having unapproved contact with a minor and sexual relations with another adult—both human, this time.

As of last week, an online petition circulated on Hathaway's behalf had garnered a paltry 154 signatures. (Among the signatories: George W. Bush, Ted Kaczynski, and Nancy Pelosi.) "His selfless devotion to fighting speciism (sic) and necrophobia in our society has led him to be brutally persecuted, tortured, and incarcerated," the petition reads, "all for a laughable 'crime' of 'sexual gratification with a dead deer on the side of the road.'" Laughable indeed. —Paul Demko


Your Pizza or Your Life

At least Abdi Ibrahim didn't go to jail hungry.

Late one evening last week, a woman carrying two pizzas was getting off the elevator in her Riverside Plaza apartment building when Ibrahim accosted her, according

to a criminal complaint. "Give me your pizzas or I'll kill you!" he threatened, throwing a punch that grazed the top of her head.

The woman dropped the pizzas and ran off.

Sadly for Ibrahim, building security found him just a few minutes later, greedily devouring the woman's dinner. The cops were called, and Ibrahim was placed under arrest. The pizza boxes are being held as evidence. —Jonathan Kaminsky

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