The annual National Basketball Association All-Star Game in February provided a windfall for the co-host arena's proprietor, James L. Dolan, whose family owns not only Madison Square Garden but also the NBA's richest franchise (the Knicks), hockey's second-richest (the Rangers) and the New York region's telecom juggernaut Cablevision. Among the government handouts Dolan receives is the 33-year (and counting) exemption from property taxes for the Garden's four square blocks ("among the most valuable (plots of land) on Earth," according to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio) — a government gift, in 2014 alone, worth $54 million.
Felons, and those convicted of domestic assault, and those with a history of mental illness, cannot by federal law buy firearms or explosive devices, but Americans on the National Counterterrorism Center's consolidated watch list can — and may possess an unlimited quantity. (In 2013 and 2014, 455 of 486 prospective purchasers on the list passed the background check, and going back to 2004, 2,043 of 2,233 passed, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.) Legislation to add watch listees as a banned category was introduced again this year, but has failed several times in the past.
The three-week February exhibition of Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera consisted of a blank wall in Chicago's West Loop gallery — with the artist present only in the sense that he was residing in a narrow, 10-foot crawl space behind the wall with only a single sign alerting patrons ("I am here, but you will not see me"). Diaz-Perera's "In the Absence of a Body" was designed, he said, to explore the boundary between presence and absence.
A motorist smashed into a power pole at 2 a.m. on Feb. 25 in Tukwila, Wash., because, he explained, he was "chasing an owl." (Police somehow found him to be sober and did not charge him.)
Officials in Salem, Ore., posted signs in February to warn joggers on a popular running path that they might be attacked by a rogue owl or owls, after four people were aggressively pecked at by dive-bombers. (One design for the sign came from cable TV personality Rachel Maddow.)
A bar called Annie the Owl was scheduled for a special one-week event in London in March, for patrons to sip drinks while domesticated owls perch on their shoulders. Interest was so keen that a lottery was required for tickets.
The continuing crisis
America's Least Interesting Couple: Bill Bresnan, 74, of Toms River, N.J., has written a love letter to his wife, Kirsten, also 74, every day for nearly 40 years — more than 10,000 in number — and continuing, according to a February "ABC News" report. "We've never had a fight," he said. Their romance continues over, for example, playing Boggle at breakfast or having candlelit dinners with wine. (Bonus: Kirsten has hoarded all of the letters, filed by date, in 25 boxes.)
Least competent criminals
Surveillance video released in February by the Irish Independent showed a small-time burglar trying to break into a car at 1 a.m. in front of the Pheasant bar in Drogheda, Ireland, by smashing a window with a brick — but also showed that the brick rebounded and knocked the man out, bloodying him. Gerry Brady, owner of the bar, was just closing up and found the burglar dazed, but the man departed before police arrived. Only when Brady later viewed video of the front of his bar did he realize what the man had been up to.
Least industrious criminals
Michael Cassano, 38, was arrested in Lodi, N.J., in February, after allegedly robbing the Hudson City Savings Bank of about $4,000. He was spotted minutes later, a block away at a Dunkin' Donuts, sipping coffee.
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