Last week, sympathetic souls around the world expressed shock and sadness over the case of David Barney, the 10-year-old boy in Edmonton, Canada, who watched while a group of teenage boys hanged his German shepherd from a playground slide. No sooner had Canadian authorities reported this "unprecedented act of cruelty" than pet lovers around the world opened their hearts to the Barney family, sending condolences, cash (for a reward fund to catch the culprits), and offers of replacement pets. "I'm really surprised," said David's mom, Donna, to the Edmonton Journal. "There is compassion out there." Well, today a whole bunch of that compassion shriveled into bitter disgust as an abashed David Barney confessed that his story was a big fat lie. Today's Edmonton Sun dished the dirt on the Canadian Pinocchio, whose web of lies began to unravel during an interview with a police sketch artist working on composite portraits of the alleged suspects. Suspicious of the boy's elaborate descriptions, the artist called in an investigating officer, who quickly got David Barney to spill the beans about his dog's death: While at the playground, Barney tied his dog Sheba to the top of the slide, ordering her to stay while he slid to the ground. Sadly, Sheba disobeyed, trying to jump onto the slide and hanging herself in the process. "I'm sorry for lying," a subdued David told officers tonight. "I've learned that if you lie, you get into trouble." Less subdued was David's mom, who apologized, then confessed, "I'm really scared people will take their anger out on my son, my husband, and myself. I don't need to be followed down the street and swore at." (A word of advice to the Barneys: Move.)

>>Speaking of liars, today ballot-initiative maverick Tim Eyman admitted to paying himself tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations and lying about it. And while Eyman's blubbery confession (aired on local newscasts) was infinitely entertaining, it ultimately raised more questions than it answered. Who is Eyman protecting with his "It was me and only me" schtick? Will voters ever trust him again? And why oh why does this supposedly straight guy act so classically faggy whenever a camera's around? If anyone knows the answers to these questions, please write


For centuries, CBS Broadcasting has provided America with a wealth of televised entertainments, from I Love Lucy to Everybody Loves Raymond. But next month, CBS dumps the love and goes for the grit with Camera at Ground Zero, a two-hour special featuring graphic, previously unseen footage of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The centerpiece of the sure-to-be blockbuster is footage shot by Gedeon and Jules Naudet, a pair of French filmmakers who were working on a documentary about the New York Fire Department just a few blocks from the WTC on the morning of September 11. Among the exclusive images fortuitously captured by the brothers Naudet is the only known footage of the first plane hitting the North Tower, along with 45 minutes of firefighters evacuating hundreds of freaked-out people from the North Tower's lobby; among the exclusive sounds are the sickening splats of bodies hitting the pavement after falling (or jumping) from windows above. CBS won't reveal how much it paid to acquire the rights to the Naudets' prize footage, but sources say the sum was less than $1 million, with the filmmakers announcing plans to donate most of the money to the Uniformed Firefighters Association scholarship fund. Camera at Ground Zero airs Sunday, March 10, at 9 p.m.--a fact that inspires Last Days' deep ambivalence. Broadcasting eyewitness accounts of history is one thing; interspersing such accounts with commercials for Meow Mix is something else. And while we'd like to imagine that the special would be viewed by solemn gatherings of sympathetic citizens, $50 says the core audience is beer-swilling gawkers who've worn out their Faces of Death tapes.


Today in Philadelphia, a police officer paid a visit to a fourth-grade classroom. When the students asked to see her gun, the officer said "sure," and her 9mm Glock semiautomatic was passed around the room. When the gun returned to the officer, she carefully reloaded the weapon, accidentally pulling the trigger and shooting a 10-year-old boy in the face. The boy required five stitches, the officer is being internally investigated, and The Philadelphia Inquirer is why we know any of this.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7On this day in 1926 Carter G. Woodson, son of slaves, teacher of high school, and founder of the American Negro Academy, established the first Negro History Week, which eventually blossomed into February's Black History Month. And while it may seem just like whitey to give African Americans the shortest month of the year, history supplies a wealth of non-insulting reasons for the selection of February, including the birth of badass teacher/author/activist W. E. B. Du Bois (Feb 23, 1868), the birth of segregation-busting Rosa Parks (Feb 4, 1913), the passage of the suffrage-bestowing 15th Amendment (Feb 3, 1870), the founding of the NAACP (Feb 12, 1909), and the assassination of Malcolm X (Feb 21, 1965).

>>In a coincidence so unfortunate we considered ignoring it, today MSNBC issued a formal apology for a typographical error that turned the name of an interview subject into a racial slur. On Monday, Republican consultant Niger Innis was interviewed by the news network in regard to the Enron scandal; during the interview, the onscreen graphic identifying Innis (who is black) added an extra "g" to his first name. "Media bias continues," said Innis when informed of the gaffe. "Just kidding. It's not the first time it's happened, but hopefully it's the last." Innis' good humor aside, today's blunder (along with last month's "accidental" tribute to James Earl Ray in Florida) illuminates a damning fact about race relations in America. Namely, if white people routinely insult and offend black Americans merely "by accident," imagine the horrors in store when we really put our minds to it, à la the Alabama Klan 50 years ago, or the LAPD 10 minutes from now.


In his State of the Union address last week President George W. Bush annoyed North Korea by calling the nation part of the "axis of evil." Today North Korea retaliated, calling the United States "the empire of the devil." George Bush responded by saying that North Korea's mama was so ugly, when she looked out the window she got arrested for mooning, inspiring North Korea to call George W. Bush's mama a "skank-ass ho."


Today in Tampa, Florida, a human cannonball was seriously injured when he accidentally soared past his target at the Florida State Fair. According to family members, Ermes Zamperla, a 20-year veteran of the circus cannon, flew 100 feet after being launched from a spring-loaded cannon. Then things got interesting: Overshooting his designated cushion by 25 feet, Zamperla landed on his feet, but was carried by momentum into a fiberglass wall. The Associated Press reports that Zamperla was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he was treated for head injuries and broken bones.


In honor of Valentine's Day, the week ends with a remembrance of true love from this day in 1863, when P. T. Barnum's "star midgets," Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren, were joined in holy matrimony. And if those little freaks can find love, so can you.

Send Hot Tips to