Strange but True

Plutonium lasts forever, but the radioactive fallout from 2002 should be mercifully brief. Don your Rocky Flats moonsuits and jump in!

Exhibit B: In April, 27-year-old Abe Hagos was irked when a Denver District Court judge pronounced his sentence for first-degree murder. Hagos shared his displeasure by turning over the defense table with his shackled hands, then rushing toward the prosecution side. Stunned witnesses watched as Hagos succeeded in socking one prosecutor -- who suffered a black eye -- before Denver sheriff's deputies wrestled him to the ground and subdued him with a taser gun. Early release for this fellow looks like a long shot.

Red Leroy Harris, an enraged Grand Junction grandfather ticked off that a kindergartner had made an obscene gesture at him from a school bus, allegedly followed the bus in his truck, waited at the next stop, then climbed aboard to confront the culprit. In the melee that followed, one student hit his head on a metal bar, and four others were shaken by Harris, according to the Mesa County District Attorney's Office. Harris, who opted for a trial in December, pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of endangering public transportation and criminal trespass, as well as three misdemeanor counts of child abuse and harassment.

All Politics Is Personal

Greeley's Reverend David Meek didn't live up to his name when he delivered an anti-abortion prayer to the Colorado Senate last March. Although the benediction is supposed to be largely ceremonial, Meek took the opportunity to ask for divine help in overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal. As a beatific bonus, he asked lawmakers to accept Jesus. "That wasn't a prayer," state senator Stephanie Takis, a Commerce City Democrat, complained to a reporter. "I felt he used it for his own political views." Fellow senator Dave Owen, the Greeley Republican who'd invited the pastor of Glad Tidings Church to address his colleagues, apologized.

Legislators cracked down on press access to the Colorado House floor after a posse of Johnny Deadline wannabes claiming to be reporters disrupted a January hearing. While lawmakers debated a bill that would allow a jury to decide whether a person was fit to be a parent, several individuals blocked doorways and sang "God Bless America" -- typical reporter behavior. Supposedly reputable members of the Fourth Estate must now carry credentials from either the Colorado Press Association or the Colorado Broadcasters Association before they're allowed to get close to the legislative action.

A move to make March 9 "Frozen Dead Guy Day" in Colorado was killed off when Democratic members of the House failed to see the humor in representative Tom Plant's motion, and House Speaker Doug Dean declared the proposal dead. Plant, who represents tiny Nederland, had hoped to draw attention to that town's "Frozen Dead Guy Days," an event commemorating Norwegian Bredo Morstoel, who's been on ice for over a decade. But even without official recognition, Nederland drew several hundred people to its parade honoring the man whose body is preserved in a Tuff Shed.

Colorado Department of Transportation director Tom Norton was caught drinking on the job this year: He swallowed a CDOT cooler -- magnesium chloride diluted with water -- to prove that the state's de-icer was harmless. (Of course, the drink was 500 parts water to one part chloride.) A businessman who joined Norton for the chug-a-lug said the cocktail tasted like hydrogen peroxide. We'll take ours with salt around the edges.

CSAP=Colorado Schools Acting Poorly

Aspen, always on the lookout for ways to protect its residents from the dangers of life its own self, decided to ban coffee, tea and carbonated soda from its high school starting in 2005. In a three-to-one vote, the school board declared that caffeine-loaded drinks will no longer be available, although herbal teas will still pass muster. Don't expect to see Hunter S. Thompson at any PTO meetings.

Elizbeth Chapman, the mother of an eight-year-old "boy genius," was put in court-ordered treatment last spring after she admitted fabricating various feats -- including her son's supposedly perfect math SATs.

The Animal Kingdom

Richard L. Barber of Aurora had been warned about keeping Monty, an eleven-foot-long Burmese python, in his home, but he loved the pet. And Monty apparently shared those very strong feelings. The snake put the squeeze on 43-year-old Barber -- a safety engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation -- and killed him. It took seven rescuers to peel the snake off of Barber's neck. One Aurora firefighter, who wrestled with Monty, said it was "like being squeezed by a hydraulic arm." City officials subsequently noted that it is illegal to have a pet snake longer than six feet in Aurora.

Federal officials investigated the Denver Zoo on charges that it had allowed two Asiatic black bears, Sherpa and Moktan, to fight for years -- until Sherpa finally suffered a crushed throat in one of the scuffles and died. Zoo officials expressed surprise that the bears, which had been penned together for fourteen years, would engage in fatal combat -- but a government vet found records of three dozen fights occuring in just ten months. According to one USDA medical officer, it was "a serious case of incompatibility." The feds fined the zoo $700 for keeping animals in an unsafe condition.

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