An estimated 3.2 million kids aged five to 12 take mixed-martial arts classes, training to administer beatdowns modeled after the adults’ Ultimate Fighting Championships, according to a January report in ESPN magazine, which profiled the swaggering, Mohawked Derek “Crazy” Rayfield, 11, and the meek, doll-clutching fighting machine, Regina “The Black Widow” Awana, seven. Kids under age 12 fight each other without regard to gender, and blows above the collarbone are always prohibited (along with attacks on the groin, kidneys and back). “Crazy” was described delivering merciless forearm chest smashes to a foe before the referee intervened, and the Black Widow won her match in less than a minute via arm-bar submission. Parental involvement appears to be of two types: either fear of their child’s getting hurt or encouragement to be meaner.
BREAKING BAD (AND QUICKLY!)
Tyrone Harris, 26, reported for his first shift at Dunkin’ Donuts in Morristown, N.J., in January and received his name tag. Seven minutes later, according to police, he was on his way out the door with $2,100 from his supervisor’s desk. Apparently, the supervisor had opened his drawer a little too far when reaching for the name tag, giving Harris a glimpse of the cash.
Aubrey Ireland, 21, a dean’s-list senior at the University of Cincinnati’s prestigious college of music, went to court in December to protect herself from two stalkers–her mother and father, who, she said, had been paranoiacally meddling in her life. David and Julie Ireland put tracking devices on Aubrey’s computer and telephone and showed up unannounced on campus (600 miles from their home), telling officials that Aubrey was promiscuous and mentally imbalanced. A Common Pleas Court judge ordered the parents to keep their distance.
The mostly rag-tag army of Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime unveiled its first jerry-built armored vehicle in December. The “Sham II” is an old diesel car with cameras for navigation, a machine gun mounted on a turret with a driver looking at one flat-screen TV and a gunner another, aiming the machine gun via a Sony PlayStation controller. And video transmissions from drone aircraft rose stiflingly to more than 300,000 hours last year (compared to 4,800 in 2001). With input expected to grow even more, Air Force officials acknowledged in December seeking advice from a private-sector company experienced in handling massive amounts of video: ESPN.
THIS WEEK IN DOGS THAT DRIVE
Dog trainer Mark Vette showed off his best work in Auckland, New Zealand, in December: dogs driving a Cooper Mini on a closed course. Using knobs fitted to the dogs’ reach, Vette taught mixed-breed rescue dogs “Monty” and “Porter” 10 discrete actions, including handling the starter, steering wheel, gear shift, and brake and gas pedals, and then put them behind the wheel on live television. Monty handled the straightaway flawlessly, but Porter, assigned to steer around a bend, ran off the road.
Jorge Sanchez, 35, was arrested in Burbank, Calif., in February after walking into a Costco, brazenly stuffing 24 quart cans of motor oil under his clothing (some affixed with bungee cords), and heading for the exit. A security guard noticed him, but Sanchez fled and actually outran the guard (though some of his cargo came loose). Still carrying 15 cans, he made it eight blocks before police overtook him. Sanchez said he services cars part-time and that motor oil prices were just too high.
Gregory Bruni, 21, was arrested in North Fort Myers, Fla., in January after allegedly breaking into a residence at about 7pm (first scurrying across the roof and jumping on one resident who came to investigate). According to police, Bruni was naked, ran maniacally around screaming in gibberish, failed to be intimidated when the female resident fired three “warning shots” with a handgun, fell to the floor after the third shot and began masturbating, and defecated near the front door and in a hallway. Police soon arrived and Tasered him.
The issue of “background checks” for gun purchases occupies center stage in the current gun-regulation debate, even though, ironically, current federal law on such checks is apparently half-heartedly enforced. In the latest data available (from 2010), nearly 80,000 Americans were denied the right to purchase guns because their applications contained false information (even though applicants swear, under penalty of law, that all information is true). But The New York Times reported in January that of the nearly 80,000 applicants, only 44 were prosecuted for lying, and federal officials said the practice, well-known among applicants with shaky backgrounds, is known as “lie and try.”