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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

’Til Death Do Them Part

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The divorce of Anton Popazov and his wife, Nataliya, is about to be finalized, but they are still contractually committed to the Moscow State Circus, where their act includes Nataliya shooting an apple off of Anton’s head with a crossbow. The Times of London asked Anton during a show in Sheffield, England, in February whether he was afraid. “I still trust her because Nataliya is very professional,” he said. “…the show must go on.”

Can’t Possibly Be True
Two Park Vista High School girls admitted to stealing money from a Girl Scout selling cookies at a supermarket in Boynton Beach, Fla., in January. But they later told WPBF-TV that they had no remorse. “We went through all that effort to get (the money),” one of them said on camera. “We got all these charges (against us), and we had to give the money back. I’m kind of pissed.” Added the other, “I’m not sorry. I’m just pissed that I got caught.” The victim’s mother said that the girls returned to the supermarket the next day and taunted the little girl.

In February, a court in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, sentenced Briton Keith Brown, 43, to the standard four-year minimum term in prison for violating the country’s extreme “zero tolerance” drug laws, even though the only drug found was a “speck” (0.003 grams) of cannabis caught in the tread of his shoe and discovered only because the Dubai airport uses sophisticated drug-detection equipment. Previously, a Canadian man was imprisoned for “possession” of three poppy seeds (from a bread roll he had eaten at Heathrow Airport in London) that had fallen onto his clothing as he prepared for a flight to Dubai.

Inexplicable
In January, Shafkat Munir, 26, was sentenced to 12 months in jail in Lancashire County, England, for attempting to fake his death after receiving three speeding tickets. Instead of simply paying the fines, which totaled about $350, Munir created his own death certificate to try to get the charges dismissed. “I have never known anyone to go to such lengths (over speeding tickets),” one official said.” The judge also revoked Munir’s license.

Unclear on the Concept
On Nov. 30, for a social justice project at Cheektowaga Central High School (Buffalo, N.Y.), students spent an 18degree night in cardboard boxes on the school’s lawn, in supposed solidarity with the area’s homeless population. According to a Buffalo News report, the “suffering” students brought portable DVD players to watch movies inside their boxes, ate donated pizzas and donuts, and ducked into the school’s heated gym whenever they got too cold or bored. However, the effort did raise money for local organizations that provide aid to the homeless.

Names in the News
Arrested in October for vehicular assault in Tacoma, Wash. (after which he told a police officer that he had “definitely had a few”): Mr. Glen Alan Casebeer. Arrested for DUI near Burleson, Texas, in January (after crashing into a house): Mr. Bryan Scott Moron. Falsely accused of kidnapping a 17-year-old girl in Oshkosh, Wis., in November: a previously convicted sex offender, Mr. Pheuk Kue.

Creme de la Weird
In February, on “signing day,” when hundreds of highly recruited high school football players announced which colleges they would attend, lineman Kevin Hart of Fernley (Nev.) High School met local reporters with his coach at his side and dramatically chose the University of California over the University of Oregon. However, when reporters called the coaches at those universities for reactions, they learned that neither school had recruited Hart (nor had any other prominent college, for that matter). Two days later, Hart explained that he passionately wanted to play at a major school and that when no offer came, “I made up what I wanted to be reality.” Hart did not elaborate on what he thought the ruse would actually accomplish.

Thinning the Herd
A 39-year-old man fell to his death while trying to slide down a banister in the Hollywood & Highland Center mall in Los Angeles in January. And three more people died recently as a result of accidents on railroad tracks: a 42-year old man, hit by a train on tracks near Burlington, Ill., while listening to his iPod (September); a 31-year-old man, hit by a train in Berkeley, Calif., while talking on his cell phone (November); and another man, hit by a train in San Leandro, Calif., also while on his cell phone (December).

2008 Chuck Shepherd