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Police Cooperation (11/21)
Hank Schiffer thought it was "weird" that a reporter and camera operator for a local TV station just happened to be on hand to pepper him with questions when he was stopped for a traffic violation. "The whole stop sure had a staged feeling to it," he said. That's because it was staged, according to the cop who stopped Schiffer. A memo from Sgt. Jeff Kelly says he was asked to follow Schiffer and stop him if he committed any infractions, so the reporter could "ambush him to do her story." Local media report Boca Raton, Florida, Police Chief Andre Scott ordered two assistant chiefs to find an officer to help WPLG-Channel 10 reporter Julie Summers get an interview with the contractor, who had been dodging her attempts to speak with him about faulty sidewalks in a community near Boca Raton.
Red Light (11/18)
When Edward Keegan got a ticket for running a red light, he knew it was a mistake. First of all, the Philadelphia man says he hasn't been through that particular intersection in years. Second, his car was parked in his garage when an automatic camera supposedly caught his car going through the light. Sure enough, the car in the photograph taken by the camera is black. His is red. And he says the photo is so blurry he couldn't make out the tag number. After reviewing the ticket, the city cancelled it. But City Parking Authority executive director Vincent Fenerty stands by the traffic cameras. "This is pure human error. The cameras themselves work," he said.
Eating Himself to Death
Iranian police shot 23-year-old Seyed Mostafa to death when he refused to pull his car over when they tried to stop him. Police tried to stop Mostafa when they spotted him eating during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The police enforced a dawn-to-dusk ban on eating, drinking or smoking during the month of Ramadan.
Don't DIY (11/16)
Plan on painting your bedroom on your day off? You could be breaking the law if you live in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The city council recently banned all "erection, excavation, demolition, alteration or repair of any building" in a residential neighborhood on Sundays. The codes director has informed them that language bans do-it-yourself work as well as commercial work. One alderman suggested changing the law to ban only work that requires a city building permit. But the building office reminded the council that most additions or renovations to existing homes—whether done by the homeowner or a contractor—require a city permit.
Our Bad (11/15)
Machal Lalung was sent to a state-run insane asylum in India 54 years ago. But doctors there recently made an amazing discovery. Lalung isn't nuts. His odd behavior was actually epilepsy. Human rights activists say it is common for people in India to be branded as insane and locked up for months or even years, but Lalung's case still stunned them. Lalung was freed, only to find most of his relatives had died. He lives with his late sister's son.
Something Fishy (11/14)
Will neighbors start reporting people whose dogs look at little plump? Rome, Italy, has passed a new animal cruelty law. Along with measures banning the declawing of cats and the clipping of animals ears and tails for cosmetic reasons, the law mandates that owners walk their dogs every day or face a $625 fine. The law also bars pet stores from displaying animals in their windows and forbids goldfish from being awarded as prizes. Those goldfish must now be kept in a full-size aquarium, not a bowl. It also forbids construction that may displace colonies of stray cats that have formed across the city.
Porn in the USA (11/11)
A provision inserted into the Children's Safety Act of 2005 would define many mainstream Hollywood films as "pornographic." Currently, any film that has explicit sex must maintain records of the real names and ages of performers in those films. But a clause inserted into the House of Representatives version of the Children's Safety Act by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) expands that requirement to any film or TV show with simulated sex or "lascivious exhibition" of genitals. The requirement is retroactive to 1995. The bill also denies tax breaks designed to stop "runaway" film production to films that must meet the record-keeping requirement. The record-keeping requirement isn't in the Senate version of the bill, and the two must be reconciled.
Tribal Thinking (11/10)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ordered a U.S. missionary group that works with indigenous peoples to leave the country. Chavez accused New Tribes, which works in remote areas of the country, of "imperialist infiltration" and "taking sensitive and strategic information."
A Hearty New Orleans Welcome
They billed it as "Welcome Home New Orleans," a day of entertainment, free food and medical care and a chance to clean up Washington Square. But two New Orleans Police Department officers showed up demanding to see a permit for the event. They weren't satisfied when they were told organizers had oral permission from the New Orleans Department of Health, and they reportedly became belligerent when asked to identify themselves. In fact, they tossed a reporter who took pictures of the confrontation out of the park after he refused to erase the photos. The two officers quickly departed, however, after members of the Missouri National Guard showed up.
You Guys Are Retarded! (11/8)
Melissa Hart says she has convinced school officials in Wethersfield, Connecticut, to confiscate ink pens that spout phrases from the movie "Napoleon Dynamite," including "Freakin' Idiot," "Yesss," "Sweet," and "You guys are retarded." Hart, whose three-year-old son has Down Syndrome, objects to that final phrase. She says the pens violate the school system's zero-tolerance policy on harassment.
Want to sell something over the Internet? Better bone up on you speed talking. North Dakota's Public Service Commission is considering forcing those who sell things on eBay for others to obtain auctioneer's licenses. They'd have to pay a $35 fee, get a $5,000 surety bond and obtain training in voice control, rapid speech, hand gestures, and other topics. The courses, which must be at state-approved schools, range from $796 to $1,625 and last from seven to 10 days.
Flying Pork (11/4)
Since it was created less than three years ago, the Alaskan Fisheries Marketing Board has received about $30 million from the federal government, thanks to Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, who just happens to be the father of the board's chairman. Where has that money gone? Well, $500,000 of it went to paint a giant salmon on an Alaska Airlines jet.
Walk This Way (11/3)
Police in Malanda, Australia, ticketed Pat Gallen for crossing the street too slowly. Gallen is 83-years-old and uses a cane. After a public outcry, police rescinded the ticket.
We Don't Need No Stinking
Religious news sources report that the town council in San Nicolas, Hidalgo, Mexico, has voted to expel about 40 families, all evangelical Protestants, from their homes. Those sources also report that officials in the town of San Antonio Las Rosas, Chiapas, have declared that only Catholics may live there and have cut off electricity to evangelical families.
Fratello Maggiore Is Watching
Under new anti-terrorism laws, Internet cafes and others that offer telecommunications services in Italy must photocopy the passports of all their customers. Café owners must also record which computer a customer uses and each user's log-in and log-out times. They must also install software that tracks all of the Web sites users visit, and they must periodically turn those lists over to police.