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News of the Weird: Inmate tax experts and paint-by-numbers

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Swiss health officials have authorized construction of an assisted-living "village" of 1950s-style homes and gardens designed to "remind" patients withAlzheimer'sand similar afflictions of surroundings that they might actually recall and with which they might be more comfortable and secure than they are with modern life. The 150-resident grounds, near the city of Bern, will be similar to a Dutch facility set up in 2009 in a suburb of Amsterdam. "To reinforce an atmosphere of normality," reported London's The Independent in January, the Swiss caretakers will dress as gardeners, hairdressers, shop assistants and the like.

Can't Possibly Be True

• The varsity girls' basketball teams at predominantly white Kenmore East High School near Buffalo, N.Y., have, for several years, apparently, psyched themselves up in a pre-game locker-room ritual by chanting, "One, Two, Three, (n-word (plural))!" before running out the door and onto the court. Although the white players this year called the use of the word a "tradition" (passed down from year to year), and not a racial "label," the team's only black player not surprisingly had a problem with it and reported it to school officials. According to a December Buffalo News report, it was always a players-only tradition, and no adult was aware of the chant, but upon learning of it, officials immediately imposed player suspensions and team penalties.

• The U.S. Treasury Department's inspector general for tax matters revealed in January that the IRS certified 331 prison inmates as registered "tax preparers" during a recent 12-month period, including 43 who were serving life sentences. None of the 43, and fewer than one-fourth of the total, disclosed that they were in prison. (The agency blamed a 2009 federal law intended to encourage online filing of tax returns, noting that "tax preparer" registration can now be accomplished online by passing a 120-question test.) (USA Today reported in February 2011 that prisoners filing false or fraudulent tax returns scammed the IRS for nearly $39.1 million in 2009.)


• Christopher Bolt pleaded guilty in September to felony destruction of property in Loudoun County, Va., for spray-painting more than 50 vehicles. Some were marked with the number "68," which a sheriff's detective explained was probably because Bolt had initially sprayed "69" but realized it "didn't look right."

Fine Points of the Law

• Gayane Zokhrabov, then 58, was knocked down by the flying corpse of Hiroyuki Joho, 18, during a rainstorm in Chicago in 2008, and in December 2011 filed a lawsuit against Joho's estate for compensation for the various injuries she suffered that day (broken leg, broken wrist, shoulder pain). Joho's corpse was "flying" because he had just been fatally struck by a fast-moving train as he dashed through the storm across several tracks -- while Zokhrabov was waiting on a nearby station platform. A judge initially ruled that Zokhrabov's injuries were not a "foreseeable" result of Joho's crossing the tracks, but in December, a state appeals court reinstated the lawsuit.

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