The Year in Rebuke

•Pixelon Corp., once such a dot-com darling that it spent $16 million for a bash in Las Vegas in 1999, hits on hard times when it is learned that company founder Michael Adam Fenne is really a convicted felon named David Kim Stanley who, as a con man, had been on Virginia's most-wanted list for three years.

•While home ownership is up across the U.S., it drops for the second straight year in OC, where many who work and live there simply can't afford a home.

•A study by Orange Coast College finds a 90 percent reduction in the quantity of sea organisms since 1975, with more than 100 species vanished from local tide pools altogether.

•According to the environmental group Pesticide Action Network, the use of "bad actor" pesticides (acute poisons, carcinogens, etc.) in OC has risen 51 percent between 1991 and 1998.

June, July

Hey, it was summertime.


The Orange County Register announces a "customer bill of rights" with a money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied with the accuracy or quality of the paper. As a result, many county residents are finally able to afford their own homes.

•Arthur Carmona, a county teen who lost two and a half years of his young life to jail and prison before his wrongful conviction was overturned this month, is warned not to screw up again by OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, essentially saying, "Don't try getting away with being an innocent victim of police and prosecutorial misconduct a second time."

•The record number of devastating forest fires that swept the country in the first half of the year may be a result of global-warming trends, experts warn.

•The University of California announces a new research study of the medicinal value of marijuana. Not to be outdone, the U.S. Supreme Court issues an emergency order barring Californians from providing medical marijuana to persons who are sick and in pain. While otherwise loath to interfere in states' rights, Scalia, in drafting the majority opinion, writes, "What the fuck do we care?"

•Meanwhile, scientists announce the efficacy of three microscopic fungi in strangling the vascular systems of marijuana, opium and coca plants. With U.S. drug officials pushing for its implementation in South America, some cranky ecologists wonder if the fungi will also decimate banana, cotton, bean, melon and other crucial crops. Well, let's find out!

•In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in some city or other, nominee George DUI Bush announces, "I will work to reduce nuclear weapons and nuclear tension in the world to turn these years of influence into decades of peace." In his next two sentences, he promises to ignore "outdated treaties" and implement the "missile shield" that experts assure will raise global nuclear tensions.


•Offering dramatic proof of OC Sheriff Mike Carona and other county law-enforcement officials' contention that peace officers were being outgunned by criminals, undercover Anaheim police dressed as gang members, cruising in Fullerton while reportedly on a drug investigation, open fire on suspected actual gang members after the youths toss a pomegranate at them. Laugh if you like, but pomegranate juice really stains.

•A senior engineer whistle blower at defense giant TRW claims the company engaged in fraud and cover-up in faking test results for components of the "missile shield" program to gloss over design flaws that would render the program useless in any real-world scenario.


•Irvine-based Land Rover airs a touching new commercial in which a well-dressed couple drives their splendid Land Rover SUV through driving rain. A closeup on a pair of choice opera tickets reveals their destination. The couple, however, spot a drenched but otherwise upper-crust dog on the roadside as the emotive synthesizer music rises and Peter Gabriel—or someone so like him that he gets the blame—intones, "I can't close my eyes," and they come to the pooch's rescue. The message: even though your hulking vanity-vehicle purchase shows contempt for the safety of other motorists and hastens the ecological doom of the planet, you still have time for a feel-good gesture or two, unless of course you just thought you'd sell the dog to a lab.

•After more than 100 deaths attributed to Firestone tires, unidentified U.S. senators accede to lobbyists' demands and block a John McCain-penned auto-safety bill, prompting the Republican Arizona senator to declare, "The fix is in for the special interests."

•Clear Channel Communications, America's biggest radio conglomerate, is fined a mere $8,000 by the FCC for violating payola laws, which LA Times writer Chuck Philips rightly contrasts with the millions of dollars other networks are fined for airing "indecent" material. The moral: it's not okay to talk about whores, but you can sure be one.

•A United Nations-sponsored report by top climate scientists concludes that temperatures on the Earth might rise by as much as 11 degrees in this century due to man-made causes. Even the previously estimated top rise of 6 degrees would be devastating to life on this planet. If true—and these are the top experts in the field—human life may all but end in the next several decades. This story barely makes it onto the Times' front page (where the big news is a 25-cent cut in California's sales tax) and goes unreported on most broadcast news shows.

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