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News of the Weird 4/11/13

by Chuck Shepherd

Undocumented Living 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.

Great Art! 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. {in}