? Raymond Holcomb has muscular dystrophy and can barely speak. So when he won a concert by John Mellencamp in his own backyard from music channel VH-1, it must have really made his day. And when he got a bill from the IRS, it must have really confused him. The IRS considers the prize taxable income worth $11,700. The concert left Holcomb $2,496 in the hole to Uncle Sam.

? Four years ago, Hurricane Andrew hammered Dade County, Florida. Now the state trust fund established to get the area back on its feet is pretty much tapped out. No wonder. An investigation by The Miami Herald found that at least one-sixth of that money went to projects outside the region. For instance, distant Ft. Lauderdale got $106,000 in relief to make up for lost parking ticket revenue.

? Dade County resident John Crouse can't blame the hurricane for his problems. His dog died back in 1995. In 1996, the county sent Crouse a notice to have the collie's license renewed. He told the control officer that his dog was dead, and therefore he didn't think he needed to register it. When he didn't renew the license, the county fined him. So Crouse again reported that the dog was dead, and had his veterinarian send in a copy of the death certificate. County officials responded by notifying Crouse that if he didn't pay the fine, which was now $500, within 30 days, they'd slap a lien on his house. They also notified his mortgage holder of their intent.

? In China, fellow prisoners severely beat dissident Wei Jingsheng, who is serving time for advocating democratic reforms. The prisoners were reportedly promised reduced sentences if they attacked Wei.

? Daniel Bowden is a military police officer who has undergone training on handling bank robberies. It seems the military's training may be inadequate. Bowden entered a credit union in Virginia and tried to wire $2,900 in cash to Texas. The teller recognized him as the man who had robbed her just a few days earlier. It was an easy identification, since the bank robber hadn't worn a mask. The serial numbers on the cash he had brought matched those on money taken in the robbery, and Bowden was arrested.

? In Alabama, a federal judge ruled that a marketing firm working for the re-election of Gov. Jim Folsom violated federal law by having black employees call only black voters and white employees call only whites. U.S. District Judge William Acker said federal anti-discrimination law bans such tactics. He also said the law might well prevent advertisers "from employing, based on race, actors to solicit products to a certain group" and the "exclusive hiring of black actors to play such roles as Othello."

? Boris Yeltsin is considering banning the use of foreign words in advertising to promote the purity of the Russian language.