? Norwegian tax officials have presented Halvard Stensrud with a bill for 6,825 kroners, or about $1,000. Stensrud is a carpenter, and the bill was assessed for "professional services" he rendered–to himself. The tax office decided that work he did on his own house was covered by the law and assessed him based upon the market value of his work.
? In Plymouth, Massachusetts, Anthony Varrasso was called for jury duty. No big deal– except that Anthony is just 3 years old. His mother tried to tell officials that Anthony was a bit young to be deciding cases, but they insisted that he was 18. After all, that's what it said on a census form. His mother finally got things straightened out, but not without taking him to see court officials in person. In the past, Plymouth has called dead people, pets, and even a building for jury duty because of incorrect census information.
? A new survey of Russians has found good news and bad news. The good: Hatred of Jews has dropped in recent years. The bad: That's only because Russians are too busy hating others. Among the ethnic groups Russians now dislike more than Jews: Chechens, Azerbaijanis, Armenians, and the always unpopular Gypsies.
? Speaking of surveys, one closer to home brings interesting results. It seems that Christian teens are more likely to watch MTV than their non-Christian counterparts.
? In Livermore, California, the city has ordered a mother to stop selling hand-painted T-shirts from her home. The city says she isn't zoned for commerce. The woman is selling the shirts to raise money to pay her 16-month-old daughter's medical bills. The girl was born with life-threatening intestinal disorders.
? And in Monterrey, Mexico, the city has denied permission to build what would have been the country's largest Mormon temple. Local Catholics had complained that their children might be "contaminated" by Mormonism.
? Wade Miller of Santa Fe, New Mexico, called the office for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta to get tickets for the volleyball event. When Miller gave his address as New Mexico, the agent told him that they couldn't sell tickets outside the United States. Miller explained to the agent that New Mexico is part of the United States. Then he tried to explain this to her supervisor. The supervisor told him he'd have to try the Mexican Olympic Committee, or maybe the Puerto Rican committee–whichever his home country was.
? Miller isn't the only New Mexico resident with problems. The state recently discovered that 4,000 drivers are sharing 2,000 license numbers. The snafu has caused many innocent people to get tickets recorded and points charged against them because someone sharing their number has broken the law. And it has cost at least one professional driver several jobs because when employers checked his license they got information on another driver who isn't commercially qualified.
? The supreme court of Pakistan has ruled that male doctors may not perform autopsies on female corpses, saying it shows disrespect for the dead. In a perhaps telling choice of words, the court wrote, "The dead body is laid on a table in a naked condition where male members of the medical staff have free ingress."
? In 1994, police officer Mark Byers was a hero; we aren't sure what he is today. In '94 Byers rescued Jane Liberatore from her shotgun-wielding estranged husband Anthony, who had already shot to death her boyfriend. Now, Byers claims that injuries he sustained smashing through Liberatore's glass door have left him permanently disabled. So he's suing her. He says she's responsible for his injuries because she knew her husband was on his way to her house with a gun, but she didn't call police until he got there. Besides, she was also allegedly unfaithful.
? You may have heard of some of these software programs designed to keep kids from accessing sexually explicit parts of the Internet. They have a list of forbidden words, and if those words pop up on a Web site, access is shut down. Well, it seem one of these programs works a little too well. Users recently had trouble getting to the White House's Web site. The word that set off the alarm: couples.