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Lead Stories

On trial for harassing a prosecutor, British actor Michael Fabian acted as his own lawyer and presented a lavish, theatrical defense, including 12 workers he engaged from an employment agency to pose as spectators sitting in the gallery. He later left town without paying the agency, but in June he was brought to justice.

According to a dispatch this month from the Washington Post, the Jammu and Kashmir State Cable Car Corporation continues to run its gondolas at the mountain resort of Gulmarg, passing within three miles of the “line of control” that separates Indian and Pakistani forces in Kashmir. The gondolas occasionally pick up ground fire, and business is down considerably for skiing, hiking, and golf, but some frolickers show up….And according to a June report in Lebanon’s Daily Star, republished in the Wall Street Journal, Israeli and Hezbollah forces on the Lebanese border were standing down from live ammunition but exchanged fire with eggs, Ping-Pong balls, and paint-gun blasts.

Best in Show

Two months ago Simply Dapper, age six months, won four prize ribbons at the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association show in Costa Mesa, California. A Wall Street Journal report says the rat was valued for its “shiny beige coat, sweet temperament, and a blood line dating back 12 generations.” Contest rats have fancy names (e.g., “Himalayan” rat) but cost only a few dollars to acquire and are genetically the same as ordinary, Dumpster-diving rats….And in February, the same week the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show opened in New York City, the United Arab Emirates held their first-ever beauty contest for camels in Abu Dhabi, with total prize money of about $27,000.

Bright Ideas

Last month Baptist minister Roland Gray of Harvey, Illinois, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for faking at least 14 auto accidents to defraud insurance companies of more than $450,000. “I consider myself a man of God,” Gray told the judge, “[but] I got a little confused.”…And that same month in Turin, Italy, Mr. Andrea Cabiale was charged with arranging at least 500 bump-and-stop car accidents involving young female drivers, attempting to get dates. Found in Cabiale’s apartment were 2,159 photographs of female car owners and their damaged vehicles.

In March authorities in Los Angeles arrested 56-year-old John Patrick Bradley and three women for a scheme to defraud recent U.S. immigrants of as much as $25,000 for the promise of becoming citizens. The ruse involved an almost full-scale replica of the official immigration service process, including materials, tests, and a swearing-in ceremony; Bradley, dressed as a judge, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Waxing Waynes

Arrested for murder since March: Kenneth Wayne Hall Sr. (Gaffney, South Carolina), David Wayne Satterfield (Dallas), Shelly Wayne Martin (Baltimore), Jason Wayne Petershagen (Alvin, Texas), David Wayne Crews (Knoxville, Tennessee), Mark Wayne Lomax (Houston), Jeffrey Wayne Paschall (Draper, Utah). Convicted of murder: Mark Wayne Silvers (Anderson, South Carolina), Darren Wayne Campbell (Coquille, Oregon). Sentenced for murder: Michael Wayne Cole (Goldsboro, North Carolina). Murder conviction overturned and new trial ordered: Michael Wayne Jennings (Contra Costa County, California).

Drive Through

This past March 45-year-old Melodie Morsicato crashed her Nissan Stanza through the front door of a Target store in New Britain, Connecticut, at 4 AM and, once inside, drove around the store….The next month in Durham, North Carolina, a 37-year-old woman drove her Honda SUV into a Chinese restaurant called the Ginger Inn and, once inside, continued driving around the dining room….And that same month two men in their early 20s were arrested in El Dorado, Arkansas, for riding their horses around a Wal-Mart; police said alcohol was involved.

In the Last Month

In Bogota, Colombia, Leonardo Diaz was trapped in a blizzard in the Andes Mountains and had almost given up hope, but he was rescued after Bell South telemarketer Maria del Pilar Basto called him on his wireless phone, which had run out of minutes, to sell him more….In Napa, California, health inspectors arrested a 57-year-old man who had manufactured 30 pounds of “bathtub cheese.”…In Punjab province Pakistani officials arrested leaders of a tribal council that had ordered an 18-year-old woman gang-raped as revenge against her brother, who had been seen walking beside a woman of higher status….And in Prestonburg, Kentucky, vandals struck the First United Methodist Church, but their graffiti misspelled Satan (“Satin”) and rebel (“reble”).

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