By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
By Richard Connelly
By Jeff Balke
By Casey Michel
By Craig Hlavaty
By Jeff Balke
Craig Baker owns a marble shop out in the Katy prairie, but that's not what he's most known for these days. Instead he's known for racing pigs.
Baker's the guy who got upset when the Katy Islamic Association purchased land next to his to build a mosque. Baker now has regular pig races on Fridays (a Muslim holy day) in order to annoy them pork-hatin' furriners.
He's gotten plenty of coverage from print and television media, and that soon will include a segment on The Daily Show. A spokesman for the show says they hope to air the pig-race piece February 27.
Baker says he knows what The Daily Show is all about, but -- somehow -- he thinks he won't be made to look a fool in the report.
Correspondent Rob Riggle, he says, "came out and had a blast. I don't know how it's going to come off, but Rob had a great time. He was quite hilarious because he was standing out here and messing with -- because the Muslims had a service that day, and he was standing out there on the corner shaking his fist at them back. It was hilarious...He was like, 'Hey man, are they trying to flip me off? Hey motherfucker!' I was like, 'Whoa.'"
The crew filmed for eight hours, with Riggle cheering on the pig races holding a beer and a sausage-on-a-stick. So yeah, combining that with the taunting of passing Muslims, we're sure Baker -- and all us Texans -- will end up looking just fine.
She Said He Said
Baker, by the way, tapes all his interviews with the media these days. He says he was burned badly by a reporter for the Associated Press.
The reporter -- to the world, she's Rasha Madkour; to Baker, she's "this little Muslim girl" -- interviewed him late last year.
Baker says the Katy Islamic Association told him it would be best if he moved; the KIA has said they only asked him to move some cattle he had allowed to graze on the vacant land next to theirs.
Baker's version of the AP interview: "She kept asking me, 'Is there any chance that you may have misunderstood what they wanted, that maybe they wanted to just move the cattle?' and I'm like, 'No, there's no problem with me moving the cattle because I moved them within 24 hours.' So she waits a couple of days and calls me back and...goes, 'Is there any chance that you misunderstood, because those guys, they're Middle Easterners and they speak with a heavy accent?'...And I'm like, 'No,' and she goes, 'Well, how about this: Is there a one-half of 1 percent chance that maybe you misunderstood?' And I go, 'Okay, I'll admit to one-half of 1 percent chance.' And what does she do?"
Madkour's story said that Baker agreed to move the cattle "but mistakenly thought the Muslims also wanted him off the land." Subsequent press reports have said "Baker conceded to the Associated Press" that he had been mistaken.
Wendy Benjaminson, news editor for AP's Houston bureau, says Madkour never mentioned "one-half of 1 percent" and that the wire service sticks by its story.
As to why the assignment was given to Madkour -- who wears a hijab and whose September marriage was the subject of a newspaper feature on how she was embracing her Muslim roots -- Benjaminson says it had nothing to do with her religion.
"She was assigned the story because frankly she was in the bureau when I walked in that morning," Benjaminson says. "You know how we work: 'Hey you, you're alive, go.'"
You're a convicted child molester. Is that any reason you shouldn't be able to drive around in a van tricked out to look like the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo?
If you live in Waller County, apparently not.
Ricky Stroble was arrested January 25 on charges of possession of child porno and illegal videotaping (his mobile home at one time had a camera in the shower). He'd earlier been convicted twice of indecency with children.
The arrest came after a tip to police, but one would think a bigger tip might have been the fact that for years Stroble had been cruising around in his homemade Mystery Machine (Ruh-rrrow, Shaggy!)
"Knowing his background, you and I both know why he had a Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine," says Waller County deputy sheriff John Kremmer. But by the time law-enforcement authorities noticed the van -- which would occasionally be parked near a school -- Stroble's parole had been completed.
Even after his recent arrest, authorities didn't impound the vehicle, finding nothing incriminating in it. (Stroble did, however, have Scooby-Doo "pictures, stuffed animals [and] magazine coloring books" in his house, Kremmer says.)
Officials note that if he gets placed on parole again or on probation, his supervisor will be able to prohibit him from using the kid-friendly ride.
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