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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

The Arizona Republic reported in April on Marc and K.K. Dubowy of Scottsdale and the ten people they had hired--manager, publicist, voice coach, two acting coaches, hair and makeup stylists, musical transcriber, photographer, and Web master--to help advance the prospective show-business career of their 16-year-old daughter, Marissa Leigh, whose biggest dramatic role had been Dorothy in a community-theater production of The Wizard of Oz. The Dubowys spent more than $150,000 on a birthday party/showcase that MTV filmed for its series My Super Sweet 16, but although other episodes have featured songs performed by the birthday girl, Marissa's musical numbers didn't make it into the broadcast. "She's spoiled," K.K. told the Republic, "but hopefully, it's a grounded spoiled."

The Litigious Society

While celebrating her mother's birthday last year at her parents' home in Darlington, Wisconsin, Carriel Louah slipped on ice in their driveway and broke her ankle; this July a judge in Madison ruled that the 25-year-old Louah could proceed with a $75,000 lawsuit against them for negligence. (She claims that her parents failed to adequately maintain their property, citing an apologetic letter sent after the accident in which her mother wrote that they should have made repairs "years ago.") And in June Jaime Pinedo filed a suit in Hackensack, New Jersey, against the estate of his late brother's late girlfriend, Xiomara Ortiz; according to the suit, poor security measures at Ortiz's home made it possible for her jealous ex-husband to (as authorities allege) catch her and Daniel Pinedo together and shoot them both execution-style.

Max Foster, 18, told the Daily Telegraph in June that after he called police in Bath, England, to report that he'd just seen some kids ride away on his moped, the responding officers said they weren't allowed to pursue the vehicle because the suspects hadn't been wearing helmets and the force didn't want to be sued if one of them fell off and got hurt. (Authorities confirmed that declining to chase a helmetless rider was one of the "options available" to officers in such cases.)

Ironies

In July 30-year-old peace activist Christiaan Briggs was arrested in London after he allegedly punched 19-year-old Billy Leeson, who hit his head on the ground and went into a coma; according to police, witnesses said Briggs was laughing as he ran away. In May the British pollution watchdog organization Environment Agency was fined the equivalent of $14,000 after the subcontractor who built the group's monitoring station on the Exe River was found to have released toxic waste into the water, killing hundreds of fish. And in the same month 63-year-old Colin Watson, whose numerous violations of wildlife-protection laws had made him the UK's most notorious collector of rare bird eggs, was killed when he fell out of a 40-foot larch tree in a forest near Doncaster, England.

What goes around, comes around: According to a July Boston Globe article on intolerance in Provincetown, Massachusetts, some residents have complained of being harassed after it became public (via a list at the Web site Knowthyneighbor.org) that they had signed a petition calling for an amendment to the state constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage.

Arab News reported in June that the government of Saudi Arabia--home of 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers--was offering scholarships enabling Saudi men and women to travel to the U.S. and pursue studies in "air traffic control, flight safety, and other majors related to the airline transport industry."

People With Issues

Betty Jean Barachie of Kunkletown, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in June to 27 months in prison for embezzling $1.5 million from the credit union where she worked, much of which went toward her compulsive shopping habit; her thousands of purchases included 58 coats, 3,000 books, 16 chain saws, two snowmobiles, and a $25,000 tractor. According to her lawyer, she rarely used many of the items but instead hoarded them in her house (with tags still attached), sold them for a fraction of their value at garage sales, or simply gave them away.

According to court documents Christopher Irvin, a former nurse arrested in April on sex abuse and child pornography charges, told police that the first time he molested a semicomatose four-year-old girl at Children's Hospital in San Diego it was "to see if he liked it." He did it a second time, he said, because he still "wasn't sure if he was interested in children"; he said he concluded afterward that no, he wasn't interested.

Least Competent Criminals

In June a federal appeals court affirmed the conviction of Asante Kahari for defrauding a Michigan woman he'd met in a chat room of $38,000 via a counterfeit-check scam. Specifically, the appeals court ruled that the trial judge had not erred when it allowed the prosecution to enter as evidence portions of a book, The Birth of a Criminal--written and published by Kahari and advertised on his Web site as his "new autobiography"--that described in detail the scam he was accused of operating. "I would get on line," he wrote, "meet a broad and be mailing her the check the next day."

The Good Fight

In June marines veteran Christopher Marlowe, working security at a New Orleans hotel, and army vet Erik Beelman got into a dispute over which branch of the service was tougher; the 25-year-old Marlowe allegedly wound up beating the 30-year-old Beelman with a collapsible baton, then shooting him in the face. Also in June, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that according to police a 47-year-old man had stabbed a 54-year-old man with whom he'd been "arguing about not having an argument." And on Memorial Day police in Wood Dale, Illinois, had to step in when two parade spectators, 23-year-old Pamela Majdan and her 31-year-old sister Joyce, got into a fistfight over who had caught the most Twizzlers thrown into the crowd by marchers.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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