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The Palm Beach Post reported last month that Pumpkin, a Chihuahua, was having an easier time walking after 12 ounces of fat were removed from its hips in liposuction surgery performed at Boca Greens Animal Hospital in Boca Raton, Florida. Even at 11.4 pounds, the dog is still among the estimated two-thirds of south Florida's pets that are overweight.

First Things First

In April, 17-year-old Carlos Chereza of Fort Myers, Florida, was arrested after he tried to hire an undercover detective posing as a hit man to kill his mother. According to the officer, Chereza asked that the hit be made to look like the result of a burglary but stressed the importance of not damaging the family's TV.

Oops!

Polygamist John Daniel Kingston, testifying in May at a custody hearing in Salt Lake City, insisted that he was "very close" to the multitude of children he's sired by his reported 14 wives. However, when asked to name the 13 children he had with one of them, he struggled through nine names before giving up.

According to a state audit in April, Rock Mueller, director of Nebraska's million-dollar smoking-cessation program, allegedly altered documents to make sure a major contract went to a particular company (which paid him $78,000 in fees), and thousands of dollars of the program's budget remain unaccounted for. Mueller was hired to run the program in 2001 while on work release from prison; he was serving time for stealing over $100,000 in checks from his previous employer. (Mueller hasn't been charged so far in the current investigation, though he was arrested in May for allegedly selling a mobile home he'd yet to pay for.)

Intro to Irony

James W. Dudley, 61, was hospitalized in May after being hit by a car in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Immediately before the accident he was standing at a bus stop, discussing with another person the relative probabilities of being hit by a car and being the victim of a theft.

Feuds

Salem, Massachusetts, police sergeant David Connelly was arrested in January for an alleged campaign of vandalism against Judge Howard Whitehead, who lives a few blocks away from him in nearby Lynnfield. According to police, Connelly was angry about a 2001 decision by Whitehead and so had driven by Whitehead's house and tossed empty beer cans into the yard at least 90 times over a period of two years. And in March, U.S. ambassador to Italy Melvin Sembler filed a lawsuit against Richard Bradbury for stalking. Bradbury, who (along with many others) says he was abused in a controversial drug treatment program Sembler founded and ran for 17 years, has been agitating against Sembler since 1987; last fall he found a discarded penis pump while rummaging through garbage outside Sembler's Saint Petersburg, Florida, home and promptly put it up for auction on eBay, making sure to identify its former owner.

South Carolina governor Mark Sanford took his budget battles with the state legislature to the next level in May when he staged a photo opportunity at the statehouse in Columbia: he complained to reporters about what he believes is irresponsible spending while holding in his arms two piglets (nicknamed "Pork" and "Barrel" for the occasion), which defecated on the carpet outside the house chamber and also on the governor's jacket and shoes.

The District of Calamity (continued)

The Washington Post reported in May that the principal of Lincoln Multicultural Middle School in Washington, D.C., was fired late last year after education officials concluded he'd used student activities money for the unauthorized purchase of numerous personal gifts as well as two school buses, one of which he may have sold to someone in Panama. And C & F Construction, which earlier this year was suspended from receiving D.C. government contracts because its president had been convicted of bribery as part of a scheme to overcharge the government for road-paving jobs, had its eligibility restored in April and in May was awarded a $3.1 million road-repair contract.

No Longer Weird

Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but which now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: (69) The responsible drunk who knows enough not to try to drive home but instead enlists an equally unqualified driver (usually a child, but last month in Peachtree City, Georgia, Michael Johnston recruited his blind friend Samuel McClain). (70) The construction worker who gets accidentally shot in the head with a nail gun and winds up with an impressive souvenir X-ray but only minimal injuries (as in the case of Isidro Mejia in Los Angeles in May).

More Things to Worry About

Jackie Tvedt kept her nurse's license even though she was fired in January from a nursing home in Newton, Iowa, for allegedly providing inadequate medical attention to patients God told her he would take care of. And in May at a dance in Mount Vernon, Washington, for middle school honor students, two girls, ages 12 and 14, were arrested for beating a fellow honor student unconscious.

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

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