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“Many of my young patients think about getting plastic surgery the way they’d think about getting their hair done,” explained Dr. David Alessi of Beverly Hills, Calif., who is still amazed at women’s willingness to endure “extreme” cosmetic alterations. “Vaginal rejuvenation” (labiaplasty) might be the most sensational procedure, but surgeons also do “forehead implants” and ankle and shoulder liposuction, break and reset jaws to tweak smiles, and lengthen or shorten toes (for “toe cleavage” with certain shoes). Alessi told a Glamour magazine writer for an April story that one 25-year-old recently asked him to “remove” her navel (whereas most umbilicoplasty patients merely request reshaping). Said a bemused colleague, “There’s some consensus about what makes for an attractive ... face, but we have no definition of the ideal navel.”


Gulfport, Miss., resident Michael Petro pleaded to a documentary filmmaker (in a clip later uploaded with his permission to the Internet) for help in recovering from his shattering loss during Hurricane Katrina, when his 115-year-old house was destroyed. Since then, he said on the video (reported by WLOX-TV in April): “Church groups have not come through, the government has not come through, insurance has not come through like was promised,” and “(S)omebody has to fight to get these things back and going.” According to WLOX-TV, the house that stockbroker Petro lost was 2,500 square feet, and the replacement he’s pleading for help with is 6,000 square feet. Said Petro to the station, “I’m not too proud to ask ....”

Jerome Kerviel told reporters in April that he is planning to sue Societe Generale bank in Paris for unfair dismissal, even though he is the “rogue” derivatives trader the bank says cost it the equivalent of about $7.5 billion by making risky, unauthorized deals that came to light in January and for which he is under indictment for fraud. Kerviel pointed to an independent investigator’s conclusion that SocGen management had ignored 75 warning signs about Kerviel’s trades and continued to support him, but SocGen said Kerviel doctored paperwork to disguise trades.


Cumberland County (Pa.) Commissioner Bruce Barclay resigned in April after disclosure that he had built a hidden video system in his home and recorded as many as 500 sexual episodes with unknowing men. While the videos may have violated state law (investigation is under way), one of them has exonerated Barclay of a separate rape charge filed by a 20-year-old man, in that the video evidenced a consensual relationship. (The young man has been charged with making a false police report.)

Instant Karma: In March in Leesburg, Va., driver’s license test-taker Nita Sureka was told by the examiner to park beside the Department of Motor Vehicles building, but she accidentally crashed into it, tearing a hole in the wall and forcing the department to close for the day.

Compelling Explanations

World’s Greatest Lawyer: Oregon public defender Ethan Levi agreed to represent Eric Kincaid, 29, who had been identified by DNA as the man (in a miniskirt, wig and fishnet stockings) who one night last year had hidden in the closet of a woman he did not know before fleeing. Kincaid denied that he meant the woman any harm, maintaining that he had been invited by a mysterious second woman, whom he also did not know, to have sex but had realized after seeing the first woman that he was in the wrong apartment, and he left. In April, Levi convinced the jury to accept Kincaid’s explanation and acquit him of all charges.

Well, That Explains That!: Gene Morrill, 57, hoping for a shorter sentence after his conviction for soliciting sex from teenage boys over the Internet, told a court in Fredericksburg, Va., in March about his rough life as a child, beginning with the time he was sexually molested by Bigfoot.

I Want My Rights!

Student Vinicios Robacher, 15, said in March he was preparing to file a lawsuit against school officials in Danbury, Conn., over an ear injury. Robacher said that, while he had his head down, sleeping in class, the teacher slapped his desk so hard with her palm, to wake him, that he still has constant pain.

Astrid Literski, in prison after pleading guilty to murdering her 4-year-old daughter in 2003, is due in tax court in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in May to argue that she should not have to give back $1,296 (Cdn) in tax benefits she was wrongly paid for the child during 2002. Actually, the girl was living with her father at the time, but Literski says she deserved the tax benefits, anyway, because she provided “emotional” support.

People Different From Us

What Housing Crisis? “This is heaven on earth,” said one resident living on burned-out lava rocks about a mile from the oozing Kilauea volcano near Kalapana, Hawaii, explaining the lure that he and his neighbors feel, having built houses by hand, collected rainwater to drink, installed solar panels for power, and planted vegetables between the rocks for food. Said one of the semi-hermit residents, to an Associated Press reporter in March, “I’m more scared of people than I am a volcano.”

Recurring Themes

Least Competent Criminals: (1) In March, Christopher Koch, 28, became the latest to wait outside a bank, building up his nerve to rob it, and then finally put on the ski mask and walk up to the front door (of the Citizens & Northern Bank, Liberty, Pa.), only to realize that it was by then 12:01 p.m., and the bank had closed at noon. (Employees got Koch’s license plate number.) (2) Angelo Trujillo, 20, became the latest, in March, to attempt to rob someone who was pumping gas (at a Smith’s store in Santa Fe, N.M.). The customer, Ms. Bernie Garcia, 83, calmly sprayed Trujillo with gasoline, sending him fleeing (but he was soon arrested).

That Sacred Institution: The Al-Shams newspaper in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, reported in March that Mohammed al-Rashidi, 11, had just married a cousin, who is 10, remarking: “I am ready for this marriage. It will help me study better.” And in April, in a courtroom in Sana’a, Yemen, a courageous 8-year-old girl walked in alone and demanded that the judge grant her a divorce from the 30-year-old man her father had contracted to marry her. The judge, rejecting tradition, granted the divorce.

Armed and Clumsy (all-new)

More people who accidentally shot themselves recently: Mr. Roland Scott, the victim of a street robbery, took away the perp’s shotgun and started beating him with it, but jarred the trigger, and it fired, hitting Scott, fatally, in the stomach (Baltimore, March). A 31-year-old man, fleeing police after a “pump and run” at a gas station, lost control of his car, and the collision jarred his gun, firing a shot into his abdomen (Morgan County, Colo., March). A 20-year-old man shot himself in the groin when he stuffed a shotgun (that he had allegedly just stolen) inside his pants (Seattle, April). A 44-year-old woman recanted her rape and assault claims, admitting that she shot herself in the knee while reaching for a flashlight (Springfield, Mo., December).