• In Zambia, the speaker of the parliament admonished a cabinet secretary and ordered her from the chamber. Her crime: She was wearing slacks. Speaker Robinson Nabulyato said to Energy and Water Minister Edith Nawaski, "I would like to ask the minister to go out of the house and dress like a woman." As the 157-member chamber shouted, "Shame," Nawaski left. She returned an hour later wearing a black skirt.
  • How bad are the nation's schools? Just ask tour guides at the National Park Service. One question that comes up at the Petrified National Forest: "How long is the 17-minute film?" And visitors to the Grand Canyon have asked where the carved faces of the pr esidents are. Presumably, they have Mount Rushmore in mind.
  • Outraged by reports that some guests on daytime TV talk shows are phony, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) is taking action. She says she will introduce legislation banning talk shows from promoting bogus guests as real ones. Great, so now we'll know that the people who have their lives ruined on those shows really have had their lives ruined and aren't just faking it.
  • The Associated Press has found that a week after President Clinton took office a federal employees union gave the administration a list of workers at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The union claimed that the people on the list were anti-union, racist, or Republican. Since then, 11 of the 13 people on the list have been reassigned, had responsibilities taken from them, or been forced from the agency, says the AP. Almost all were career civil servants who are supposed to be immune from political pressure. The administration denies any wrongdoing.
  • Touchy, touchy, touchy. When Boston radio station WBCN began playing cuts from the album Hempilation, a benefit for the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, the Governor's Alliance Against Drugs sprang into action. They organized a protest against the station. They asked police officers to attend the rally and "bring [their] squad cars." The station charges that the government-sponsored event was an attempt to intimidate them. The government denies any wrongdoing.
  • Choi Sang-han fell in love with a girl and they planned to wed. The government of South Korea put a stop to those plans. The problem: They share the same surname. A 687-year-old law, written when most Koreans lived in small villages, prevents people with the same surname from marrying. Choi has researched his family tree for 15 generations and says that he and his fiancee share no common ancestors. No matter. The law is the law. Since most Koreans share a handful of names, thousands of couples are trapped by this law. The government recently provided a one-year amnesty to allow some couples to marry, but under counterprotest from religious conservatives, it refused to abolish the law outright.
  • The European Union's executive agency has accused Philip Morris of misleading advertising. The company ran a series of newspaper ads saying that antismoking laws reduce personal freedom. The agency says this is a lie, and if the company doesn't cut it out, it will ban all tobacco advertising.
  • Better check that first-aid kit and remove all the butterfly bandages. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has just declared them the equivalent of sutures, and only licensed medical personnel may apply them.
  • Mary Gunnels is going to trial for a second time. A jury deadlocked in her first trial. Her crime? The city of Brownsville, Texas, found out that she sells silk chrysanthemums to girls going to high school homecoming games. She sells about 30 each year. For that, she has been charged with "knowingly and intentionally operating a flower shop" in a residential area. If convicted, she will face a $500 fine.
  • And in Indiana, Pennsylvania, the city council has voted to ban residents from using furniture outdoors if it is "not specifically constructed for outdoor use." The law is intended to keep college students and others from putting an old sofa on their porch to sit on.