Undocumented immigrant Jose Munoz, 25, believed himself an ideal candidate for President Obama's 2012 safe-harbor initiative for illegal-entry children, in that he had been brought to the U.S. by his undocumented parents before age 16, had no criminal record and had graduated from high school (with honors, even). Since then, however, he had remained at home in Sheboygan, Wis., assisting his family, doing odd jobs and, admittedly, just playing video games and "vegging." Living "in the shadows," he found it almost impossible to prove the final legal criterion: that he had lived continuously in the U.S. since graduation (using government records, payroll sheets, utility bills, etc.). After initial failures to convince immigration officials, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in March, Munoz's lawyer succeeded -- by submitting Munoz's Xbox Live records, documenting that his computer's Wisconsin location had been accessing video games, day after day, for years.
Government in Action!
-- Among the lingering costs of U.S. wars are disability payments and compensation to veterans' families, which can continue decades after hostilities end. An Associated Press analysis of federal payment records, released in March, even found two current recipients of Civil War benefits. Vietnam war payments are still about $22 billion a year, World War II, $5 billion, World War I, $20 million, and the 1898 Spanish-American war, about $1,700.
-- Each year, Oklahoma is among the states to receive $150,000 federal grants to operate small, isolated airfields (for Oklahoma, one in the southern part of the state is so seldom used that it is primarily a restroom stop for passing pilots). The payments are from a 13-year-old congressional fund for about 80 similar airfields (no traffic, no planes kept on site), described by a February Washington Post investigation as "ATM(s) shaped like (airports)." Congress no longer even requires that the annual grants be spent on the actual airports drawing the grants.
-- During the massive February Southern California manhunt for former Los Angeles cop Christopher Dorner, nervous-triggered LAPD officers riddled an SUV with bullets after mistakenly believing Dorner was inside. Instead there were two women, on their early-morning job as newspaper carriers, and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck famously promised them a new truck and arranged with a local dealership for a 2013 Ford F-150 ($32,560). However, the deal fell through in March when the women discovered that Beck's "free" truck was hardly free. Rather, it would be taxable as a "donation," reported on IRS Form 1099, perhaps costing them thousands of dollars.
-- Sculptor Richard Jackson introduced "Bad Dog" as part of his "Ain't Painting a Pain" installation at California's Orange County Museum in February. Outside, to coax visitors in, Jackson's "Bad Dog's" hind leg was cocked, with gallons of yellow paint being pumped onto the building. "We'll see how long it lasts," he told the Los Angeles Times, "but you never know how people will react." "Sometimes, people feel they should protect their children from such things, then the kids go home and watch 'South Park.'"
-- Australian dilettante David Walsh's 2-year-old Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart is acquiring a reputation for irreverence. Among the exhibits is Greg Taylor's "My Beautiful Chair," which invites a visitor to lie next to a lethal injection chair and experience a countdown, mimicking the time it takes for execution drugs to kill (and then flashing "You Are Dead"). Also, at 2 p.m. each day, a "fresh fecal masterpiece" is created by artist Wim Delvoye, in which a meal from the museum's restaurant is placed into a transparent grinder that creates slush, turns it brown, and adds an overpowering defecation-like smell. The resulting "masterpiece" is channeled into (also transparent) vats.
-- Career-Ending Jobs for Runway Models: British "design engineer" Jess Eaton introduced her second "high-fashion" collection in December at London's White Gallery, this time consisting of supposedly elegant bridal wear made in part with roadkill, cat and alpaca fur, seagull wings and human bones.
Democracy in Action
U.S. political consultants may recommend to their candidates gestures such as wearing an American flag lapel pin. In India, the advice includes creating the proper suggestive name for the candidate on the official ballot. Hence, among those running for office this year (according to a February Hindustan Times report): Frankenstein Momin, Hamletson Dohling, Boldness Nongum and Bombersing Hynniewta, and several Sangmas (related or not): Billykid Sangma, Mafiara Sangma, Rightious Sangma and Winnerson Sangma. More confusing were Hilarius Dkhar and Hilarius Pohchen and especially Adolf Lu Hitler Marak.
Some Third-Worlders eat dirt because they are mentally ill or have no meaningful food. However, diners at Tokyo's upscale Ne Quittez Pas eat it because it is a trendy dish prepared by prominent chef Toshio Tanabe. Among his courses are soil soup served with a flake of dirty truffle, soil sorbet and the "soil surprise" (a dirt-covered potato ball). (Spoiler alert: It has a truffle center.) Tanabe lightly precooks his dirt and runs it through a sieve to eliminate the crunchiness.
-- In some jurisdictions, a driver can be presumed impaired with a blood alcohol reading as low as .07 (and suggestively impaired at a reading below that), but according to a WMAQ-TV investigation in February, some suburban Chicago police forces allow officers to work with their own personal readings as high as .05. (While officers may be barred from driving at that level, they may not, by police union contract, face any discipline if they show up for work with a reading that high.)
-- From the Blotter: (1) Arlington County, Va., police reported in February that a resident of Carlin Springs Road told officers that someone entered her home and stole chicken from her simmering crock pot -- but only the chicken, leaving the vegetables as they were. The report noted that they had no suspects. (2) Prison guard Alfredo Malespini III, 31, faces several charges in Bradford, Pa., resulting from a marital dispute in March, when, presumably to make a point, he tried to remove his wedding ring by shooting it off. (The ring remained in place; his finger was mangled.)
Fetishes on Parade
Serving Pediphiles: In March, a 19-year-old New York University student described to the New York Post her one-night experience last year as a foot-fetish prostitute at a spa in which men paid a $100 entrance fee plus $20 for each 10 minutes of fondling and kissing young women's feet. She said the men wore business suits, which they kept on the whole time, and that the dressed-up women had to first pass a strict foot examination by the "pimp," seeking candidates with the desired "high arches and small feet." She guessed that more than two dozen men patronized the spa during her shift and that she earned $200, including tips.
(1) In March, Jose Martinez pocketed an $8,000 settlement with California's Disneyland after he was stranded on a broken It's a Small World ride for a half-hour in 2009. Because Martinez is disabled, he could not easily be rescued and was forced, he said, to listen to the "It's a Small World" song on an endless loop until help arrived. (2) A woman and her son doing yard work at their home in Texarkana, Texas, in March "cleverly" dealt with a menacing snake by dousing it with gasoline and setting it afire, but of course it slithered away -- under brush next to their house. Moments later, according to an Associated Press dispatch, the home caught fire and burned down, and their neighbor's house was heavily damaged.
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