? In Pakistan, feminists are protesting a recent court decision restricting women's ability to marry. The court has said that Islamic law requires that a woman, regardless of age, needs the permission of a male guardian to marry. Any marriages lacking such permission are legally invalid.
? In China, kids snap up 180,000 copies of Mickey Mouse magazine each month. This has the government worried. It's determined to stop "the unchecked spread of foreign comics." So the Chinese government is producing a series of comics that uphold traditional Chinese values. One comic book depicts the life of anti-opium crusader Lin Zexu. Another tells the life story of poet Li Bai. No word on whether that comic told kids that Li, who was one of the nation's most revered poets, was also a drunkard who drowned, inebriated, in a stream.
? The Justice Department has filed suit against the nation's largest architecture firm, Ellerbe Beckett of Minneapolis, under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It accuses the firm of designing sports arenas where the lines of sight from the handicapped seats just aren't as good as those of the other seats.
? Have allergies? Then you might want to move to Albuquerque. That city wants to stop the production of nasty pollen, so it has banned cypress, mulberry, elm, and male juniper trees. The prohibition becomes law later this year. A person can then get slapped with a $500 fine for planting, growing, importing, or selling such trees. Actually, experts say that the ban will have little effect on allergies, as people will just get sensitized to other types of pollen.
? The Clinton administration has set records for spending by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And no wonder. The agency has helped rebuild some pretty expensive properties. Some $268 million of our tax dollars have gone to replace blown-down trees on golf courses, rebuild yachting marinas, and repair horse trails.
? Cora Miller is a Jehovah's Witness. As such, she doesn't celebrate birthday parties. Her religion considers them pagan rituals. She claims that she was fired from a Baltimore Chi-Chi's restaurant after she refused to sing "Happy Birthday" to a customer. Now the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken Chi-Chi's to court for violating the federal Civil Rights Act.
? Some of us think that "The Times They Are A-Changin'" is a trite reminder of a time best forgotten. But for others the song apparently brings back fond memories. And those people are upset that the song is being used in ads by a big bank in Canada. Remember folks, your sons and your daughters are beyond your command. And so too is Bob Dylan.
? A wag once wrote that democracy is based on the idea that the people know what they need, and they deserve to get it, good and hard. With that in mind, consider the results of a poll of Americans' economic literacy. When asked the unemployment rate, the average answer was 20.6 percent. The real rate at the time of the poll was 5.4 percent. The average guess about inflation was 13.5 percent. The real rate, 2.9 percent. Sixty-one percent of respondents thought unemployment was either higher or the same as it was five years earlier. In fact, it was down by more than a third.
? When the candidates for the board of the Soil and Water Conservation District in Volusia County, Florida, didn't get their filings done on time to appear on the ballot, the ballot read, underneath the board's name, to "choose one" and "write in." Thousands of voters cast their ballots for either "soil" or "water." Water beat soil.