? The city of Clearfield, Utah, isn't exactly known as the gang capital of the world. And the city fathers are determined to keep it that way. For this year's Fourth of July celebrations, they banned the wearing of certain gang-related clothing in public places: baseball caps, baggy trousers, headbands, and the colors red and blue.
? In Norway, one 15-year-old's summer started off a bit hotter than he'd anticipated. The boy wanted to celebrate the last day of school by burning his textbooks. The fire spread. As a result, his school burned down.
? In Hawaii, the governor has vetoed a bill that would allow people to volunteer for jury duty.
? A French court has barred an advertising campaign by Philip Morris Companies. The campaign cited scientific studies that show secondhand smoke isn't much of a danger. The ads claimed that eating cookies is more dangerous to one's health. Apparently, cookie makers didn't get the point. They claimed that this was comparative advertising, which is banned by French law. They got the court to stop the ads.
? In China, the government now will require actors to get a license before they perform. It's an attempt to shield Chinese citizens from bad ideas, not bad acting.
? The Chinese have also barred businesses from using names from foreign languages. It says that such names undermine national culture. Hey, just who do they think they are? The French?
? Speaking of dictatorial Asian nations, the government of South Korea has threatened legal action against any of its citizens who access a Web site created by a Canadian college student. Seems the Web site contains official North Korean documents and propaganda, which are a no-no in the South. David Burgess recently visited North Korea and wanted to share what he had learned on his Web page. Burgess said he was "awestruck by the authoritarian and bizarre use of political power to suppress the thoughts and actions of people." He meant North Korea, not South Korea.
? Last year, an Osaka, Japan, court ordered a businessman to pay damages to a female worker he pestered for sex. So how has life under the threat of sexual harassment lawsuits changed Japan? For what it's worth, brothels report a rise in "sekuhara fantasies," where a customer molests a prostitute dressed as a secretary.
? Want to know what life is like in one of those states that have laws requiring the publication of the names and addresses of sex offenders? Ask John Young or Amy McGee. They are among at least two dozen Illinois citizens whose homes were falsely listed as the residences of child molesters. The list, complete with mistakes, was reprinted in local newspapers. Now they are worried that thugs acting as vigilantes might attack their homes and harm their kids.
? In Miami, Rafael Santiago and a friend allegedly broke into an apartment and tried to burglarize the place. Among the objects they tried to steal was a shotgun. Unfortunately for Santiago, the shotgun was loaded. While handling it, he shot his thumb off. The two fled, leaving everything behind, including the thumb.
? Responding to news that Seagram's has bought television airtime to advertise whiskey, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) has proposed a ban on all radio and TV ads for hard liquor. The Kennedys are noted for many things. A sense of irony isn't one of them.
? Members of the United Church of Christ are singing a different song these days. Well, actually, several different songs. The church recently revised its official hymnal, and it updated some of the language for the '90s. For instance, the gender of the baby Jesus is no longer mentioned in "Silent Night." Military language has been removed from some songs. God is referred to as "her" sometimes. Words that might offend minorities have been taken out. "Just As I Am" no longer contains a reference to the "poor, wretched blind," for instance. And the phrase "right hand of God" in one song has been changed to the "mighty" hand of God, lest lefties get offended.