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From one set of ink-stained wretches to another, we offer condolences to our fellow scribes across the way in Santa Ana, as they are forced to end a March 6 news story by noting that a suspect "worked as an independent contractor delivering The Orange County Registerbefore his arrest." Thi Dinh Bui, who in an earlier career served as an enforcer at a postwar Vietnamese re-education camp, allegedly starved and severely beat several prisoners, killing at least two. With a rsum like that, we're surprised the Garden Grove resident hadn't been promoted to opinion-page editor.

GOD BLESS JOHN ASHCROFT'S AMERICAYou'd think the March 9 arrest of Caltech graduate William Jensen Cottrellin connection with last summer's vandalism at San Gabriel Valley Hummer dealerships would provide the FBI a perfect opportunity to apologize to former Brea resident Josh Connole. Agents busted Connole shortly after the crime spree, claiming he was a dead ringer for a vandal captured on surveillance cameras. But anyone outside the agency who saw the tape says it obviously isn't the 25-year-old Pomona resident, a committed peacenik who maintains he was singled out for his anti-war views. After Earth Liberation Front(ELF) representatives sent the Los Angeles Timesseveral e-mails taking responsibility for the vandalism and denying Connole's involvement, the feds reluctantly released him due to lack of evidence. (Now they claim to have irrefutable proof that Cottrell is tied to the ELF.) The false arrest turned Connole's life upside-down, and his friends had to throw yet another backyard-barbecue fund-raiser for him over the weekend to help defray his legal costs. The agents no doubt snooping from a safe distance away never showed up with that apology. CRIME PAYS, FRIES EXTRA As anyone who has seen recent Weekly coverboy Michael Moore's 1997 documentary The Big One knows, Corporate Americaemploys prisoners—not the kind the Registerassociate is alleged to have killed and tortured, but U.S. inmates—to call people who have fallen behind on their credit-card bills to get them to pay up. Proving there are companies that value the skills cons are learning on the inside, Disneyland Resort, Hometown Buffet, Irvine Suites Hotel, First Centennial Bank, South Coast Water Districtand several government agencies participate in the first-ever job fair at James A. Musick Jailin Irvine on March 10. The way the Bush economyis sending jobs overseas, keeping the U.S. job market stagnant and leaving crime an only option for many poor, jail may soon be the onlyplace to find employment (although we do hear the Register has at least one opening for an independent-contractor deliveryman). While Ozrejects apply for jobs, teachers from 37 Orange County schools trade their classrooms for posts behind McDonald's restaurantcounters on March 15 for a fund-raiser called McTeacher's Night. Students and their parents are urged to buy meals at participating Mickey D's when their teachers and principals work there, with a percentage of profits going to their respective schools. Of course, with mass school layoffs possible amid our f'd-up state economy, educators are learning necessary future job skills—that is, if they don't turn to crime. PAY TO PLAYWho says no one wants tax increases? The "State of Our State Parks" report issued on March 10 by the California State Parks Foundation, the only statewide advocacy group for the nation's leading state park system, finds 81 percent of Californians back a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax for our crumbling, overused, underfunded state parks. Respondents also reveal their favorite state parks, and while no overall winner is crowned, among the seven singled out is our own Crystal Cove State Park, whose state beach (straddling Laguna Beach and Newport Beach) also makes perennial appearances on the Weekly's Best of OC lists. DUBYA YOUR PLEASURE The Bush-Cheney presidential campaigndisables a tool on its website (GeorgeWBush.com) on March 11 that allows users to make full-size campaign posters customized with short slogans of their choice. After Ana Marie Cox, editor of the Washington political gossip blog Wonkette.com, reveals she made a poster with the official "Bush-Cheney '04" logo and the message "But not if you're gay!" about 200 Wonkettizens flood what Cox calls the Sloganator. Among the snarky slogans her readers render are "Run for your lives," "They sure smell like old people" and "A boot stomping on a human face forever." The president's webmaster at first tries to fight back by changing the program to outlaw certain words, but that just makes the whole thing more comical. For instance, while the updated Sloganator rejects "Not Hitler!" "The Ass-Fucking Stops Now!" and "910 Days Since Last Terrorist Attack," it allows "Fry 'em," "Fewer dead American soldiers than LBJ" and "Baby Jesus cries unless you vote Bush/Cheney '04." So the Bushies make their Sloganator automatically change offending messages—to even more offensive messages! Type in "Lookout Syria," and "It's ugly but so are you" is spit out. "Pole smokers for" becomes "WE HATE ASIANS, TOO!" Even something as innocent as "Birmingham, Alabama" automatically turns into "These candidates received NO BLOWJOBS." The Sloganator now only dispenses predetermined slogans. YOU'VE BEEN SERVED Our intrepid investigations editor R. Scott Moxley—the only journo around here who ever gets served subpoenas, adds another to his wallpaper collection on March 12 when a shaking young serverfor Irvine attorney Joseph G. Cavallopops into Weekly HQ and hands a summons to our receptionist. Cavallo represents Gregory Scott Haidl, the 18-year-old who stands accused of participating in the gang rape of an unconscious girl on a pool table in his father's Corona del Mar home. Dad is Orange County assistant sheriff and government-seized-automobile-sales magnate Don Haidl, who apparently is no fan of Moxley's coverage. When word of the subpoena reaches OC's legal community, some conclusions are reached: 1) the subpoena was improperly served as it was supposed to be handed directly to Moxley; 2) the document claims Moxley may possess information pertinent to the defense, which is odd considering our reporter was nowhere near the party where Haidl and his friends are captured on videotape inserting foreign objects into the passed-out girl's most-sensitive orifices; 3) the real intent seems to be to prevent Moxley from covering the trial's opening, as he's directed to appear at Cavallo's Irvine office at the exact time the trial is scheduled to start in Santa Ana; 4) Haidl now finds himself in good company, if by good you mean totally insane. Moxley received a federal subpoena in 1997 from Robert K. Dornanin connection with the ex-congressman's baseless voter-fraud investigation. LOVE THAT DIRTY WATER Do you suppose there could be some connection? The city of Aliso Viejois about to officially ban dihydrogen monoxide—turns out that's water—during the same week that marks the fifth anniversary of a meeting where federal, state and county officialsunveiled a multimillion-dollar plan to finally clean up chronically polluted Aliso Creek—a plan that is now deader than a puffed-out fish floating atop a stinky creek mouth. Truthfully, these events aren't related: one is a hoax perpetrated on the Internet, and the other is a hoax perpetrated on local taxpayers. Several years ago, the comedy duo Penn & Tellertricked the international environmental organization Greenpeace into backing a ban of a "deadly" chemical called dihydrogen monoxide. Like AIDS-infused needles sticking out of theater seats, the unclaimed fortune of Nigeria's crown prince and GeorgeWBush.com's Sloganator, the threat posed by dihydrogen monoxide lives on on the Internet and somehow reached the Aliso Viejo City Attorney's office, which drew up a law banning the dangerous-sounding stuff until those kind souls at the American Plastics Councilalert the city on March 12. D'oh!

It was March 17, 1999, when government officials joined together in Laguna Beach City Hall to crow about their ambitious plans for Aliso Creek, which they touted as a test project for clean-up programs across Orange County because, they claimed, the Aliso Creek problem was solvable. Roger von Butow, who chairs South County's Clean Water Now! Coalition, was the only person at that clusterfuck to call the whole thing a farce because no official could guarantee steady funding. He should now be regarded as the modern-day version of the kid who told the emperor he was wearing no clothes. After dumping untold millions into fancy documents, staff meetings and grant applications, the whole shebang was put on "hiatus" last year. "Hiatus," von Butow fumes, "is a bureaucratic code word for 'Help! There's no money and no financial assistance is on the way.'" He considers Aliso Creek and nearby, dirtier Doheny Creekas "Superfund-type candidates"—a Superfund-type candidate in the case of Aliso that a recent Laguna Beach community newspaper photo shows a young Mission Viejo mother and her boys, aged 2 and 4, frolicking in.

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