A 200-exhibit installation on the history of dirt and filth opened in a London gallery in March, featuring the ordinary (dust), the educational (a video tribute to New York’s Fresh Kills landfill, at one time the world’s largest), the medical (vials of historic, nasty-looking secretions from cholera victims) and the artistic (bricks fashioned from feces gathered by India’s Dalits, who hand-clean latrines). Dirt may worry us as a society, said the exhibit’s curator, but we have learned that we “need bits of it and, guiltily, secretly, we are sometimes drawn to it.” Capping the exhibit: a broom with a diamond- and pearl-studded handle.
The CIA recently won two court rulings allowing the agency to refuse comment about its former contractor Dennis Montgomery. The rulings mean that issues involving Montgomery are “state secrets”—despite strong evidence that the main “secret” is how foolish the agency, and the U.S. Air Force, were to pay Montgomery at least $20 million for bogus software following 9/11, according to a February New York Times report. Montgomery, a small-time gambler who said he was once abducted by aliens, convinced the two agencies that his sophisticated software could detect secret al-Qaeda messages embedded in video pixels on Al Jazeera’s news Web site. According to the Times, Montgomery has not been charged with wrongdoing and is not likely to be, since the agencies do not want their gullibility publicized.
PLANS THAT BACKFIRE
For about a year, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has been facilitating Mexico’s increasingly bloody drug wars by turning a blind eye to U.S. gun sales to the cartels—even though those very guns account for some civilian deaths as well as the December fatal shooting of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. According to a senior ATF agent who supplied evidence to CBS News, neither the Mexican government nor many U.S. officials were aware of the program (called “Fast and Furious”) until mid-March. ATF allowed the sales so it could track the guns’ locations and help facilitate, at some future date, indictments against drug traffickers.
(1) Jason Davis was sentenced in December in Burlington, Iowa, to five years in prison for one crime, but still pending is his August 2010 arrest for shoplifting at Westland Mall, which ended with Davis passed out after making a crime-scene boo-boo in his pants. (2) Michael Trias, 20, was arrested in March in Mesa, Arizona, after a botched residential burglary. According to police, Trias came in through a window, landed in a clothes basket made of PVC and netting and became entangled. His flailing attempts to free himself alerted the homeowner.