Tariq Khan, 12, of New York City, bubbled with enthusiasm to a New York Times reporter in August about his love of the Grand Theft Auto video game and the hip-hop music of Fat Joe, T.I. and 50 Cent—a month after becoming a prestigious hafiz by having memorized the entire Koran in Arabic, which he actually doesn’t understand all that well. He finished the regimen in less than two years of 40-hour workweeks, and if he retains his knowledge, he and 10 people of his choosing eventually get express passage to paradise.
University of Central Florida student Matthew Damsky was arrested in July and charged with starting a fire in his dormitory, just so that, he said, he could meet women during the evacuation. And during the Santa Ana, Calif., murder-conspiracy trial of Aryan Brotherhood prison leaders in July, the lawyer for defendant Barry “The Baron” Mills—who was convicted along with colleague Tyler “The Hulk” Bingham—made the point that the Aryan Brotherhood is more of a social club than a criminal gang and mostly enjoys just “playing cards, reading and crocheting,” according to a New York Times report.
OUR LITIGIOUS SOCIETY
Los Angeles psychologist Michael Cohn filed a lawsuit in May against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball team because he didn’t get a red nylon bag that the team was giving to women for “Family Sunday” on Mothers’ Day last year.
BILL OF RIGHTS
James Filson was fired as a Big Ten conference football referee in 2005, following a reporter’s disclosure that, after a bad accident and the installment of a prosthetic, Filson had been officiating games with one eye. Filson filed a lawsuit in July, pointing out that he had been refereeing well enough for the previous four years that no one noticed his condition, but the conference said that, now that the word is out, he would be a magnet for criticism on close calls.
PEDOPHILES FIGHT BACK
Three men in the Netherlands announced in May that they have formed the Charity, Freedom and Diversity party and will field candidates for office, advocating freedom to be naked in public and a reduction in the age of consent for sex to 12. The new party, said one, will give them “a voice” because “politicians only talk about us in a negative sense.”
Amarillo, Texas, officials, welcomed home eighth-place national spelling bee finisher Caitlin Campbell in June with a billboard, but misspelled her name as “Cambell.” And ExxonMobil, the company that announced jaw-dropping profits of $18.7 billion for the first half of 2006, said in June that it would fight the U.S. Justice Department over $92 million that the government said the company owes in the still-uncompleted 1989 Exxon Valdez oil-spill cleanup.
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS
The robber of a Bank of America branch in Tampa, Fla., in August is actually still at large, but according to witnesses, the bag of cash he took and stuffed down his pants as he fled had exploded, from the chemical dye pack inside, creating a temperature of about 425 degrees. Said a police spokesperson, “There’s no way that he was not injured.” In his spirited post-ignition dash, the man jettisoned almost all the money. MTW