Suzanne Levy is looking at a 15-day jail sentence. Her crime? She placed a standard-sized bird feeder in her back yard without permission from the city of New Rochelle, New York. After a neighbor complained, the city hauled Levy into court.
Meddlesome city governments aren't to be found solely on the East Coast. Huntington Beach, California, has made it illegal to drink beer in open spaces, even on private property. This means no one can enjoy a beer in his front yard. Even drinking a beer in your garage can get you in trouble if you leave the door open.
If you or I kill or harm certain migratory birds, we face jail time and a big fine. But the federal government doesn't. At least, that's the claim of the Justice Department. Several environmental groups have sued to stop logging in the Chattahoochee National Forest, saying it would kill 9,000 nesting songbirds. But the feds have argued that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act doesn't apply to them. So far, the courts have sided with the feds.
In Jacksonville, Florida, the Rev. Dale Shaw, president of the North Florida Ministerial Alliance, has embarked on a personal crusade. He's trying to get Richard Wright's autobiography Black Boy banned from local schools. He's also trying to get a teacher who assigned the book fired. The reason: The book, which recounts Wright's childhood in pre-World War II Mississippi, contains racially derogatory words.
The Communist Party USA is still out there, fighting for the proletariat. It intervened firmly in a recent steelworkers' strike against the WHX Corp. The CPUSA boldly pulled its multi-million-dollar investment portfolio from WHX's largest shareholder, Merrill Lynch & Co.
From our Maybe-They-Should-Have-Sought-Professional-Help Department: A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that psychiatrists are the type of doctor most likely to get divorced. The study followed 1,100 doctors over a 30-year period and found the divorce rate for shrinks is 51 percent. That's far ahead of second-place surgeons, who had a 33 percent divorce rate.
In Hurst, Texas, Michael Repp is looking at one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. It began when a friend complained that a neighbor was letting his grass grow too high. Repp told his friend he'd take care of it. So one Saturday night Repp knocked on the neighbor's door, flashed a badge and told him he was a policeman and ordered him to cut the grass. The neighbor explained that his lawnmower was broken. Then he called the real police. Repp now faces charges of impersonating a public servant.
The war against lookism and ageism has moved outside the United States. In Santiago, Chile, a restaurant has been fined $1,200 for refusing entry to five women it claimed were too old and not pretty enough.
uYouth baseball is a big deal in Lillian, Alabama, and local firms are proud to sponsor teams. But some parents aren't so proud of one local sponsor, C&J Video. C&J offers, in addition to the latest Hollywood blockbusters, a select assortment of adult videos. The store has sponsored a team for several years, but this year the parents of four kids on the team discovered what the store keeps in that room in the back. Instead of moving their kids to other teams, the parents filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Lillian Sports Association, claiming their kids' rights had been violated when they were "forced" to wear the C&J logo on their uniforms. Before trial, lawyers for the two sides agreed to disband the team and move the players to the other five teams in the league.
New car sales have been down in Italy for four years now. The government has decided that's a problem it has to address. So it's offering subsidies for new car buyers. Anyone who gets rid of a car more than 10 years old and buys a new one will get 4 million lire (about $2,550). Of course, automobile manufacturing isn't the only Italian industry with declining sales. The makers of motorbikes, refrigerators, and washing machines now want similar incentives for their products.