Weird week: A prolific fraudster, an emotional support alligator, and more wild stories

Another week behind us, another week of the world being a strange, strange place.

  • An American woman who once posed as an Irish heiress to a $30m fortune was arrested in Maine on fraud and theft charges. Marianne Smyth, who was arrested in 2019 for scamming a Hollywood producer out of $100k+, now faces extradition for allegedly running a mortgage scam in Northern Ireland between 2008 and 2010. Say what you will, the woman has range: Over the years, she’s impersonated everyone from Jennifer Aniston and an NHL hockey coach, to a witch, a psychic, and an Irish mobster.
  • In Sri Lanka — a Buddhist-majority country where astrological predictions are used to determine auspicious dates — party planning is written in the stars… if you can interpret them. A group of 42 government-employed astrologers are divided over when to hold festivities for the upcoming Sinhala and Tamil new year. Official celebrations have been set for the night of April 13, but some dissenters warn of “disaster,” predicting the country will “go up in flames.” Hard to get into a party mood under threat of immolation.
  • A New York man wants his “emotional support” alligator back. Tony Cavallaro adopted Albert — a 34-year-old, 12-foot, 750-pound reptile — when he was just two months old. Over the past three decades, he’s spent $120k outfitting his home to accommodate Albert, installing heated floors, tropical plants, and an indoor pond complete with a waterfall and spa jets. Unfortunately, conservation officers took Albert away due to an expired permit and some broken rules (like going for a swim in the pool together). But according to Cavallaro, “He’s just a big baby.” Over 120k people have signed an online petition to free Albert.
  • Cambodia’s new prime minister says no more bopping, only beeping. Forty-six-year-old Hun Manet, who was appointed prime minister in August, is banning musical truck horns in favor of regular horns after seeing videos of people dancing in streets to their melodies. In a recent Facebook post, he wrote that such “inappropriate activity committed by some people, especially youth and children” threatens public order. You know what else can threaten public order? Oppression — clearly someone hasn’t seen Footloose.

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