The Outer Frontiers of U.S. Immigration Policy
The $125 million Jay Peak ski resort in Vermont, with 120-room hotel, ice arena, golf course and the Northeast's largest water park, is just months away from completion, thanks to half-million-dollar investments from each of 250 foreign nationals from 43 countries who, as part of the deal, were given conditional U.S. "green cards" (for permanent residency). At the other end of America's immigration conundrum, prosecutors in Snohomish County, Wash., dropped the rape charge in July against illegal immigrant Jose Madrigal-Lopez, 46, for lack of evidence and released him back onto the street. Madrigal-Lopez has been deported from the U.S. 10 times already but keeps returning.
Can't Possibly Be True
• Two-year-old Ardi Rizal of Banyuasin, Indonesia, has developed a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit, according to several news organizations that splashed his story around the world in May, with video of Ardi casually puffing away as he frolics on his tricycle. Said Ardi's mother, "If he doesn't get cigarettes, he gets angry and screams and batters his head against the wall." Ardi's father, noting the kid's pudginess, seems not to sense the problem: "He looks pretty healthy to me." An additional concern is financial: Ardi will smoke only one particular premium brand, at a cost of the equivalent of about $5.50 a day.
• With heroin too expensive for many African addicts, some ask an addicted friend for a temporary fix -- withdrawing a teaspoonful of the friend's heroin-tinged blood and injecting it into their own bloodstream. Evidence of this practice (called "flashblood") comes from anecdotes from health officials in Tanzania, Zanzibar and Kenya, reported in The New York Times in July. Doctors said they question the euphoria-producing quality of such tiny amounts of heroin, but are certain that flashblood will potently deliver any HIV present in the donor's blood.
• Motherly Love: (1) Ranay Collins, 49, was arrested in Las Vegas in June and charged with beating her 16-year-old daughter with a cane. The arresting officer quoted Collins' explanation: "That (expletive) owes me $50 for rent." (2) Police arrested Christina Muniz, 29, in Surprise, Ariz., in June, after being summoned to the home by Muniz's son, 11. Muniz had just informed the boy and his brother, 6, that she was abandoning them to move to California with her boyfriend to fulfill her dream of becoming a stripper. With police watching, the older boy approached Muniz for a hug, but Muniz slugged him in the stomach.
• Colin Hall, Lord Mayor of Leicester, England, visiting the Southfields library for its Summer Showcase on global understanding in June, apparently at some point experienced his pants falling down. His spokesman later said, "He was not wearing a belt, and the trousers came loose and fell."
• Jammie Harms, 34, who had been executive assistant to CEO John Smith of the developer Hearthstone Homes, filed a lawsuit against the Omaha, Neb., company in June for wrongful firing. According to the lawsuit, Smith told Harms that, after consulting with psychics, he was troubled by her pregnancy. He said he was feeling "negative energy" from her fetus, sensing that it was "hostile" toward him and causing him to be reminded of his own unpleasant experience as a fetus.
(1) An internal police inquiry concluded in April that it was an accident that an officer in the Utica, N.Y., courtroom of Judge Randal Caldwell shot Caldwell in the leg with his Taser gun. Investigators concluded that the officer was merely trying to re-holster the weapon to make it less uncomfortable, and it slipped. (2) Youth worker Cherie Beekman, 33, took a group of her kids to a bowling alley in Didsbury, England, in April for a diversion but got her thumb stuck in her bowling ball. She was taken to a fire station, where, for over two hours, rescuers used an electric saw, hacksaw and chisel to free her.
Things Aren't What They Seem
• Fine Point of Florida Law: David Lowe, 47, was convicted in Brooksville, Fla., last year of "lewd or lascivious exhibition" after he sat in his car, masturbating, outside a convenience store while ostentatiously holding a large dildo to his mouth in front of a woman and her child. In July 2010, a Florida appeals court reversed the conviction and freed Lowe, pointing out that conviction under that particular statute requires "sexual activity," which is defined as occurring between two or more persons.
• Vietnam's Version of an "Innocence Project": "Traditional medicine" practitioner Pham Thi Hong is credited with freeing three men who had been convicted of a rape in 2000 and were serving 16-year sentences. According to Hong, men with certain small spots on their ears are virgins, and since the men still have their spots, they could not have committed rape. (Although Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet was reportedly impressed with Hong's work and thus ordered the case re-opened, discovery of additional errors by police and prosecutors contributed to the recent release of the men.)
• Mark Seamands, 39, went to trial in May in Port Angeles, Wash., accused of the hot-iron "branding" of his three children, aged 13, 15 and 18. Each of the kids bore the mark "SK," for "Seamands' Kids." At trial, however, the kids testified that they not only consented to the branding but thought it was cool (despite the second-degree burns), and the jury dismissed an assault charge and deadlocked on two lesser ones.
(1) In July, Mike Morateck, 46, a self-described "man of science," won the Jefferson (Wis.) County Fair's annual cricket-spitting contest with a hock of 21 feet, 2 inches. His two main "scientific" secrets (he told Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel): "pick a big cricket" and "feet first on its back with the head pointing out because you don't want the legs dragging on the way out." (2) Juliana Bryant, 33, was arrested in Florala, Ala., in July after police were called to her home on a disturbing-the-peace complaint and discovered several open gasoline containers throughout the house. Bryant explained to the officers that she "like(s) the smell."
Least Competent Criminals
Allen Dawes, 28, and Jimmy Lee, 43, were charged as burglars in, respectively, York, Pa. (June), and Blackburn, England (July), after having left clues behind. Dawes had left his birth certificate at the scene and Lee his DNA-laden false teeth. 2) Officials at the Synergy Credit Union in Lashburn, Saskatchewan, have the surveillance video but not the perp. On April 13, a man in black with a curved sword jabbed at the ATM, then smashed his way through the glass front door, then roamed around, leaping over counters and jabbing at more things with the sword before departing empty-handed (and bleeding).
A News of the Weird Classic (December 1989)
Denise and Jeffrey Lagrimas, who were hosting a neighborhood watch meeting in their Oroville, Calif., home in December (1989) to discuss rising concerns about local crime, were arrested during the meeting after a neighbor spotted her recently stolen TV set in the house and then realized that Denise was wearing her stolen dress. Police officers were already on hand at the meeting to give a presentation and subsequently found $9,000 worth of stolen goods.