News of the Weird March 19 2008

Lead Story: The divorce of Anton Popazov and his wife, Nataliya, is about to go through, but the couple is 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 who admitted they swiped money off the table of a Girl Scout selling cookies at a supermarket in Boynton Beach, Fla., in January told WPBF-TV later that they had no remorse. Said one (on camera): "We went through all that effort to get the money. 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 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 into his clothing as he prepared for a flight to Dubai.

Roy Chamberlin, 29, has been charged with 1,100 criminal counts in connection with what Pennsylvania police said was a series of nearly 200 rapes against a married woman in Potter Township (and had his first court hearing in January). According to the police report, the woman said she was too terrified ever to report the crimes to police or to her husband. Once, said the husband, he came home unexpectedly around 9 a.m. and found the bedroom door locked and a struggle occurring inside (hearing "Get off me!" and "You're hurting me!"). After the husband pounded on the door, Chamberlin walked out, leaving the wife "crying hysterically and trembling." However, the husband said his wife declined to explain the situation and that he didn't question her (not wanting to upset her further, since she had recently had surgery).

Inexplicable: In January, Derry, N.H., Town Administrator Gary Stenhouse told Thomas Souhlaris that he'd have to move his sausage stand because he was trespassing on city property. Souhlaris had set up the stand at the town's garbage transfer station, and Stenhouse said there might be municipal liability issues, especially if other food vendors followed Souhlaris and set up stands at the dump.

In January, Shafkat Munir, 26, was sentenced to 12 months in jail for an attempted hoax in Lancashire County, England, in 2007 after receiving three speeding tickets. Rather than pay the fines, totaling the equivalent of about $350 (and retain his license, since his record was otherwise clean), Munir created his own death certificate to get the charges dismissed. Said an official, "I have never known anyone to go to such lengths over speeding tickets." 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 18-degree 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 DVD players to watch movies inside their boxes, ate donated Dunkin' Donuts and pizzas, and ducked into the school's heated gym whenever they got too cold or bored.

When These People Vote, Theirs Count as Much as Yours: During the media hoopla on Feb. 5, about that day's 24-state "Super Tuesday" "national primary" for president, enthusiastic voters called election offices for the addresses of their polling places so they could run down and vote: 400 called in Virginia (but its primary would be the following week); 1,000 called in Dallas (its primary would be a month later); "hundreds" called in Florida (its primary was the week before). At least six people were lined up to vote by 6:30 a.m. at one precinct in Milwaukee (Wisconsin's primary would be two weeks later).

Recurring Themes: It's not quite the 2006 News of the Weird story of the kindergarten-bound Broward County, Fla., boy diagnosed with gender identity disorder at age 5, but there will apparently still be steep problems for parents, teachers and students in Highlands Ranch, Colo., when a second-grade boy soon enters third grade as a girl. One student's parent said there'll surely be an issue of, "Why are you in a dress this year when you were in pants last year?" Among the school's problems: building unisex restrooms and preventing bullying.

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 disrespecting 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).