We'll get help from the audience and maybe even Vernon himself will weigh in on the topic. All we ask in return is a follow up letter to let us know how it turned out.
Dear Steve and Julie, I really need advice and there is no way I can afford a lawyer. My mother passed away a little over a year ago. She had 3 children, me and my 13 year old twin sisters. I am 22 and have been raising them since our mother died. I work 2 jobs and go to school part-time. It is tough but we get by. My sisters and I have different fathers. I don't like or trust their father, that was never a problem until recently. Before he never called, wrote and definitely didn't help with the expenses. Well, now he has decided he wants to be a Daddy and is threatening me with court, which I know I can't afford. I can't let him get them, I'm afraid he is only after their Social Security benefits from our Mom. Trust me it is no where near enough what it costs to raise 2 13 year old girls. I'm afraid he will take the money and leave them neglected, how do I fight when I can't afford to fight?
Floyd Johnson pleaded guilty to attempted murder in an odd scene in a New York City courtroom in November. Johnson has only one leg, and had been charged with stabbing a fellow homeless shelter resident who has no legs. Johnson's public-defender lawyer (who caught the case at random) has only one leg, also. Johnson said he was taking the plea in part because of excruciating leg pain -- in the leg he doesn't have ("phantom leg" syndrome), and Johnson's lawyer said he suffers from the same thing. (The lawyer subsequently filed to withdraw the guilty plea because the pain had clouded his client's judgment.) [New York Post, 11-9-2012]
-- Amber Roberts, 30, a resident of the unit for the criminally insane at Eastern State Hospital in Spokane, Wash., informed officials in November that "I (just now) murdered someone, but you're going to have to find him." As staff members searched the facility, Roberts offered to help by shouting "hot," "cold," "you're getting warmer," and so forth. Roberts yelled "Hot!" as they closed in on the room containing the body of a 56-year-old patient that Roberts then admitted strangling. (However, a few days later in court, she pleaded not guilty.) [Associated Press via KATU-TV (Portland, Ore.), 11-21-2012]
-- Tunisia's Ministry for Women and Family Affairs demanded in October that the government prosecute the publisher of the children's magazine Qaws Quzah ("Rainbow"), aimed at ages 5 to 15, for an article in the then-current issue on how to construct a gasoline bomb (aka the "Molotov cocktail" in America). The country has been rocked by the same kind of upheaval experienced in other Arab countries, except less so since its longtime president stepped down rather quickly in January 2011. [BBC News, 10-9-2012]
-- Notwithstanding its nuclear submarines, ballistic missiles and spy satellites, France maintains Europe's last "squadron" of military carrier pigeons. Legislator Jean-Pierre Decool lauds the pigeons and campaigns for their upgrade, warning that in the event of war or other catastrophe, the birds would be a valuable messaging network. (Pigeons have been used at times in the current Syrian civil war.) Until very recently, according to a November Wall Street Journal dispatch, pigeons wearing harnesses had been used by a hospital in Normandy to ferry blood samples to a testing lab (a 25-minute flight). [Wall Street Journal, 11-10-2012]