A miles-long traffic jam on Interstate 20 near Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Jan. 25 and on into the next morning was caused by an 18-wheeler that jackknifed and overturned when the 57-year-old driver took his hands off the wheel to pull out a tooth with his fingers. Efforts to haul the truck from the roadside required an hours-long detour of traffic off of the interstate. (The driver had the tooth in his pocket when rescued.)

Unclear on the concept

Luis Moreno Jr., 26, was pursued by police in Fort Lee, N.J., after he entered the carpool lane approaching the George Washington Bridge in January because he appeared to be alone in his SUV. After ignoring several signals to pull over, he stopped and, when informed of his offense, told the officer, "I have two passengers in the back" and rolled down a window to show them (in the vehicle's third row), apparently satisfying the officer. However, as Moreno pulled away, one passenger began screaming and banging on the back door. Moreno sped off, but was subsequently stopped again and charged with kidnapping and criminal restraint (but no HOV violation!).

Mike Montemayor, until recently a county commissioner in Laredo, Texas, pleaded guilty to bribery charges in June and had argued in January 2015 that he should get a light sentence because, after all, he had subsequently helped FBI agents in a sting against three other officials accused of bribery. However, the prosecutor immediately countered that Montemayor had in fact tried to steal the recording devices and Apple computer the FBI had furnished him to do the undercover work. (He got six years in prison and a $109,000 fine.)

What researchers do

"Entomologists are not like other people," Wired.com reported in January, revealing that two of them had "proudly" issued "birth" announcements for the "Human bot fly" whose larvae one had let gestate beneath his skin for two months. Scientist Piotr Naskrecki and photographer Gil Wizen had been inadvertently bitten while on assignment in Belize and decided the egg-laying "attack" on a human was an important opportunity for research. After all, Naskrecki said, he had never seen an adult bot fly "crawl out" of its host.

New world order

Last year in Middle East school markets, the worldwide publishing giant HarperCollins was selling a popular atlas whose maps pretended there was no such country as Israel. The space that is Israel was merged into Jordan, Syria and Gaza. The company said it was merely honoring "local preferences" of potential atlas purchasers, whom HarperCollins presumed were Arabs wishing that Israel did not exist. (In January 2015, the company finally changed course, publicly "regretted" its decision and recalled all existing stock.)

In January, Mittens the kitten and Charcoal the Chihuahua mix made news as hermaphrodites whose veterinarians had recommended which gender the since-adopted strays should retain. Mittens, of the town of Heart's Desire, Newfoundland, was scheduled for "gender assignment" surgery to become solely male, and Charcoal, of Boise, Idaho, is recovering from mid-January surgery to leave her exclusively female. News reports did not disclose why "male" was chosen for Mittens, but the doctor said correcting Charcoal's pre-surgery problem, urination, would be less stressful as a female.

Fine points of the law

The Supreme Court of Canada turned down Joel Ifergan's appeal in January, leaving his winning-number lottery ticket from 2008 worthless. He had bought two tickets seconds before the 9 p.m. deadline on May 23 of that year, and the tickets had started to print on the store's machine, but only the first one carried that day's date. By the time the second one — with winning numbers for the $27 million jackpot — had gone through the lottery's central computer system and back to the store's printer, the program had already kicked over to the following day and to the next week's drawing.

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