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News of the Weird



Lead Story

In August the South Florida Sun-Sentinel profiled Ruth Regina of Miami, an old-school showbiz wig maker (her big credit is The Jackie Gleason Show) who's now developing a line of hairpieces for dogs. Among the various clip-on bangs and braids (they're expected to cost between $18 and "hundreds") is one model that according to the reporter drapes "down over part of a dog's face, giving a glamorous look reminiscent of 1940s movie star Veronica Lake." It's a good style for a "sexy dog," Regina said. "There's some dogs that have the come-hither look."

Are We Safe Yet?

The Government Accountability Office reported in July that two of its undercover agents had been able to buy $1.1 million in "sensitive" military surplus from defense-department contractors, much of which--including shoulder-fired missile launcher parts, tracking and surveillance gear, and body armor--"could be used by terrorists." The Pentagon had failed across the board to enforce existing security controls governing such equipment, the GAO wrote; in the previous eight months at least 2,669 sensitive items that should have been destroyed were instead sold to the public.

A computer consultant hired by the FBI office in Springfield, Illinois, was sentenced in July to home detention after pleading guilty to exceeding his authorized access. Apparently frustrated by bureaucratic obstacles to the system installation he was working on, the consultant used free programs available online to obtain the passwords of 38,000 FBI employees--among them director Robert Mueller--and gained access to counterespionage and witness-protection files. Also in July, homeland security officials in Indiana warned Vermillion County it might lose federal money if it didn't stop using its electronic emergency message boards to advertise elementary school carnivals, fire department fish fries, and other community events.

Can't Possibly Be True

The Beijing News reported in July that to help ensure diners' health at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, an ID number will be assigned to every individual vegetable served in the city. Greenpeace has raised concerns about banned pesticides and other contaminants in Chinese produce, more than 5,500 tons of which may be eaten during the games; if a "safety incident" should occur, the ID system will allow officials to pull the dangerous vegetable's file and presumably track down others with the same origins.

Least-Competent Roundup

Least competent police: While pursuing a teenage suspect in a South Bronx apartment building in July a New York City officer was attacked by a pit bull and called for backup, which arrived within minutes. When the shooting stopped, 26 bullets had been fired, the dog was dead, and three officers had been wounded by ricochets.

Least competent bail bondsman: Thomas Samuel, who in June pleaded guilty to ten fraud-related charges after writing what investigators said were hundreds of counterfeit checks, got out of jail following his arrest using a counterfeit bail check; after one bail bondsman turned down a fake $2,300 check, Samuel convinced another to take one for $9,800.

Least competent lawyer: In Miami in July, Knovack Jones, who practiced law for nearly 25 years, pleaded guilty to stealing $300,000 from one of her clients; she testified that she'd planned to replace the money once the Nigerian doctor she'd wired it to sent back the payout he'd promised via e-mail.

Gross Art

In July the Guardian reported on prominent British artist Martin Creed and his piece Sick Film, in which 19 people vomit for the camera. Creed spoke to the reporter from Los Angeles, where a follow-up piece, Shit Film--shot in wide-screen CinemaScope--was soon to be part of a solo show.

The Classic Middle Name (All New)

Arrested recently for murder: John Wayne Lewis, 59 (McAlester, Oklahoma, June); Kenneth Wayne Beck, 34 (Warrenton, Missouri, June); Timothy Wayne Coalson, 44 (Senoia, Georgia, July); Charles Wayne Thomas Jr., 22 (Dallas, July); Ira Wayne Cloniger, 43 (Rappahannock County, Virginia, July); John Wayne Thomson, 46 (Victorville, California, August). Pleaded guilty to murder: Michael Wayne Nelson, 23 (Palatka, Florida, August). Executed for murder: Darrell Wayne "Gator" Ferguson, 28 (Lucasville, Ohio, August).

Life in Florida: Cheap

Eduardo Gonzalez, 19, was arrested in June for the shooting death of an 18-year-old who may have spilled beer on him in an Orlando bar; in August multiple conspiracy charges were added after Gonzalez allegedly had friends try to hire someone (an undercover cop, it turned out) to kill five witnesses to the incident. Also in June in Hollywood, Florida, 34-year-old Jorge Rivera refused to pay a $78 tow truck bill because the driver said he couldn't provide $2 change. After a heated argument the driver started to pull away with Rivera's car; according to witnesses Rivera jumped onto the cab, got his hands stuck when the driver rolled up the passenger-side window, and eventually was killed when he fell under the rear wheels.

No Longer Weird: A Look Back

Continuing a review of frequently recurring stories that have been retired from circulation: Number 21 on the No Longer Weird list is the person who gets jail time for overdue library books, followed by person ticketed for riding bike, horse, mower, etc while drunk; fire starts when smoker lights up while connected to oxygen machine; and gasoline thief uses flame as light source to check tank level, with predictable results.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Beslchwender.

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