Every Sunday my newspaper runs a full page titled The (almost) Back Page.
It’s a collection of short articles that aren’t worthy of big headlines or the front page, but still articles worth reading.
Here are three recent stories that prompted research on my part, and of course, my own spin:
Caught and Charged
The Charles Schwab Corporation is an American multinational financial services company whose motto is “Own Your Tomorrow”:
Kelyn Spadoni (pictured below, right), a Schwab client, appears to have done just that – owning her tomorrow by buying a new car and a house.
It seems that Spadoni, 33, of Harvey, LA had requested a transfer of $82.56 into her account.
Instead, Schwab transferred $1,205,619 into Spadoni’s account.
Spadoni, obviously a fiscally responsible person, noticed the$1,205,536.44 in additional funds, exactly as she should have. Aren’t money experts always telling us to “monitor your money”?
She then transferred the money into a different account and bought the house and car the next day.
Who wouldn’t be tempted to do the same?
Especially after the crap year so many have had?
Imagine the pleasure Spadoni felt, walking into that Hyundai dealership and writing a big, fat check for the Genesis SUV she chose. Imagine the thrill Spadoni felt, pointing to a house and saying, perhaps, “I’ll take that one,” a house she likely couldn’t have afforded on her salary as a 911 dispatcher for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The Schwab transaction, variously called a “software glitch,” “clerical error” and a “mistake,” came to Schwab’s attention and they, of course, contacted Spadoni.
Or tried to – she didn’t respond to their texts, emails or calls.
Now it appears someone besides Spadoni may be “owning her tomorrow”:
Schwab contacted the authorities and Spadoni was arrested on April 7. She was charged with fraud and theft – and also fired, the Sheriff’s Office said – and has since been released on a $150,000 bond.
Now, of course Spadoni knew what she was doing was wrong.
And we know it was wrong.
Wouldn’t you have been…
Caught and Killed
A violent death is never something to celebrate, and this was a violent death.
Still, I couldn’t help but give a small, inward nod when I read this:
Elephants: 1. Poachers: 0.
The location was Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa, one of Africa’s largest game reserves at 7,523 square miles.
Its high density of wild animals includes the Big Five: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos:
Its high density is a big draw for poachers, and a big menace for the Big Five.
Especially for rhinos, which, according to an April 20 Washington Post article,
“…are frequently targeted by poachers for their horns, which have been used as an ingredient in traditional medicines in Asian countries such as China and Vietnam for thousands of years. Aside from medicine, the horns are often seen as a symbol of high social status and purchased as gifts.”
Apparently the deceased alleged poacher and his two partners had entered the park, armed with axes and a rifle. They were spotted by rangers who gave chase. The men fled, dropping their weapons.
I think it’s reasonable to infer that the men were in the park for nefarious reasons.
I think it’s also reasonable to assume that they weren’t the brightest bulbs in the chandelier.
Because their escape route took them straight into a herd of elephants.
Now, I’m no expert, but I know that African bull elephants are big: up to 13 feet tall, and up to six+ tons.
And I know that breeding bull elephants have one focus, and they do not like to be disturbed.
And when some puny humans run into the herd and interrupt the…shall we say courtship, the bulls are likely to get annoyed.
And they did: The bulls and the rest of the elephant herd stampeded, and one of the men was killed.
Park rangers arrested another of the men, and apparently the third escaped.
The elephants resumed their breeding activities, unbothered.
It’s likely the dead poacher had family and if so, I’m sorry for their loss.
But I’m not sorry that in this one park, on this one day, we didn’t have one more of these:
The One That Got Away
The setting for this story is the Detroit River, which flows west and south between Detroit and Windsor, Canada, from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie:
In April, three biologists from the Michigan-based Fish and Wildlife Service office were in a boat on the river, putting out setlines with hooks to catch and survey the lake sturgeon population.
It was their version of just another day at the office, when one of them felt a tug on the line.
What they pulled in – and it took all three of them – was a lake sturgeon:
But not your typical lake sturgeon; this female measured 6-feet, 10-inches, had a girth of nearly four feet, and weighed in at 240 pounds, one of the largest ever caught in the country.
One of the biologists, who is 5’ 6”, obligingly laid down next to the fish to give us some perspective:
The group estimated the sturgeon’s age at about 100 years, and that in itself is amazing for a number of reasons:
People do fish for lake sturgeon, though the flesh is described at “edible but not prized.” It’s the sturgeon’s eggs that are in demand – caviar produced from sturgeon eggs can sell for more than $100 an ounce:
So for around 100 years – since 1920 – our wily female has evaded those who have wanted to eat her, or harvest her eggs.
In addition, according to a May 5 article in the Washington Post, there was…
“…a boom in commercial fishing that continued into the early 1900s, periods of over-harvesting, and habitat loss driven by shipping channel construction and the damming of tributaries.”
And, during World War II, Detroit was considered the “Arsenal of Democracy,” producing jeeps, tanks, bombers and airplane assemblies, artillery guns, ammunition, helmets, drugs, electronics, and other military items. Oil pollution was rampant, and they discharged not only oil but other toxic substances into the Detroit River.
Our wily female survived all that, as well.
And other hazards, like collisions with boats. Lake sturgeons are slow swimmers, and when it’s fish vs. boat…
It’s no wonder the fish are considered a threatened species in Michigan – in fact, in 19 of the 20 states where they’re found.
The three biologists from the Michigan-based Fish and Wildlife Service office tagged the female and released her.
Let’s hope our female continues to be…