It's been a while since we had any mascot-attack stories, but it still does not appear to be safe out there for the nation's brave mascots.
On March 1, McGruff the Crime Dog was passing out flyers to children in northwest Washington, D.C., when a city bus pulled up to the curb. The driver got out, calmly adjusted both side mirrors, and then calmly punched McGruff in the face. According to the report, "McGruff staggered, children screamed," and the attacker got back on the bus and drove away.
This did not appear to have been a premeditated attack. Had the guy meditated on it a bit, he might have realized that somebody in a McGruff costume is not unlikely to be a cop, and/or that other cops are likely to be nearby. This McGruff was in fact a D.C. police officer, and the officers working with him had the bus pulled over within three blocks. They arrested 38-year-old Shawn Brim, who was charged with assault.
McGruff was not seriously injured, but did call in sick the following Monday because of a bruised cheek. Brim reportedly told his supervisor he was "trying to be funny," but according to a D.C. Metro spokesperson, "nobody here finds it funny, believe me." (I think maybe she has not asked everybody yet.) She said Brim's career as a bus driver is "under review," a term that generally means "over."
This was at least the second mascot attack in the general area in as many weeks. On February 19, a Chick-fil-A Cow mascot was tackled in Fredericksburg, Virginia, by an unidentified man. Because of the configuration of his giant mascot head (the same reason McGruff could not see the punch coming), the cow said he had been unable to get a good look at his assailant.
Sure, it's nice to not have to worry about being late for your plane because you are a U.S. air marshal. Turns out they will hold the plane for you and even let you on if the gate has already closed. But if (1) you are only posing as a U.S. air marshal, and (2) there are genuine air marshals on the plane already, then you may have bigger things to worry about.
The Miami Herald reported on February 27 that Mark Rimkufski, late for a plane to Los Angeles, flashed a badge at American Airlines employees and said he was an air marshal. The employees stopped the plane and let him on. Unfortunately for him, real air marshals were already on that plane.
The report is pretty clear about there being more than one air marshal on the plane, but doesn't explain why. I am sure there aren't enough air marshals to go around, and so it seems like they really shouldn't double up. While the report doesn't say this, I am going to assume that the plane was completely full of air marshals on their way to an air-marshal convention, just because I like the thought of a fake air marshal trying to bluff his way onto a plane going to an air-marshal convention.
For whatever reason, Rimkufski must have flashed his badge on the plane as well, because something prompted one or more of the air marshals to inspect it. The badge did not read "Air Marshal" but rather "Fisher Island Chief of Police," and Rimkufski was kicked off the plane. He was not, however, arrested, which still has not been explained. I can't even joke about Osama bin Laden without being waterboarded, and this guy poses as an air marshal and walks away? I think maybe this confirms my theory about the convention -- if they were all in a hurry to get to Vegas, that might explain it. But for whatever reason, Rimkufski was free to go.
But he didn't. Pushing his luck, Rimkufski went to the "Admiral's Club" (raising another unsolved mystery -- why they have an "Admiral's Club" at an airport) to have a drink and "loudly complain" about not being allowed onto the flight. Whether he bragged about his fake badge and was reported by the other admirals or the air marshals had called the authorities is unclear, but airport police showed up at the bar and arrested Rimkufski.
It was probably an especially bad idea to get drunk and complain rather than making a getaway, since it turned out Rimkufski was carrying $14,000 in cash, also uses the alias "Harry Rimm," and was ultimately bound for Dubai. No offense to Dubai, but that seems awfully suspicious. For now, though, he is charged only with impersonating a law-enforcement officer.
There is no "Fisher Island Police Department," either.
Recently, a South Carolina judge ruled that poker is a game of skill and not a game of chance. The issue was before him because state police -- apparently with little else to do -- have been raiding private poker games, based on this extremely well-written 1802 law:
If any person shall play at any tavern, inn, store for the retailing of spirituous liquors or in any house used as a place of gaming . . . at (a) any game with cards or dice, (b) any gaming table . . . (c) any roley-poley table, (d) rouge et noir, (e) any faro bank (f) any other table or bank of the same or the like kind . . . or (g) any machine or device licensed pursuant to Section 12-21-2720 and used for gambling purposes, except the games of billiards, bowls, backgammon, chess, draughts, or whist when there is no betting on any such game of billiards, bowls, backgammon, chess, draughts, or whist or shall bet on the sides or hands of such as do game, upon being convicted thereof, before any magistrate, shall be imprisoned for a period of not over thirty days or fined not over one hundred dollars, and every person so keeping such tavern, inn, retail store, public place, or house used as a place for gaming or such other house shall, upon being convicted thereof, upon indictment, be imprisoned for a period not exceeding twelve months and forfeit a sum not exceeding two thousand dollars, for each and every offense.
S.C. Code of Laws sec. 16-19-40. Thus are state citizens defended against the evils of cards, dice, and most terrible of all, the roley-poley table.
In the case before Judge Larry Duffy, five men were on trial for running a "gaming house" in which people were "playing at cards." The state attorney general has taken the position that the law only applies if chance plays a larger role in the "gaming" than skill does, which is why the judge was considering this issue. But that distinction doesn't appear in the statute -- playing "any game with cards or dice" in your house is technically a violation. (Playing Monopoly in South Carolina? Go directly to jail.) So, although the judge found the evidence "overwhelming" that Texas hold'em is a game of skill (establishing that he's never seen me play it), he still found the defendants guilty.
In its previous session, the state legislature considered a bill that would have amended 16-19-40 to legalize in-home poker, "including, but not limited to, games commonly referred to as five-card draw, Texas hold'em, and seven card stud, and which are played for the sole purpose of recreational activity." HB 3201 (2007-08 session). This would not have provided any relief for roley-poley players, but the bill did not pass anyway.
Surprisingly, coverage at Poker News Daily was strongly in favor of the defendants.