Internet

Brickbats

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* Authorities in Kish, an Iranian island popular with tourists, have banned neckties, on the grounds that they're a symbol of decadent Western culture.

* The San Diego City Council has banned the word "minority" from city documents and discussions, arguing that the word is disparaging. No word yet on what they propose to call council members who do not vote with the majority.

* During Passover, Israeli inspectors searched cafés, restaurants, and bars for bread and other leavened products. Jewish law—and since 1993, Israeli law—bars the eating of such foods during Passover. But this is the first year the law has been enforced, and even some of the lawmakers who wrote the rule were upset.

* John Thoburn has been sitting in a Virginia jail for almost two months as this is written. His crime? Zoning violations. You see, when Thoburn built a golf course, he found that local zoning authorities couldn't make up their minds about how he should build it. Take one 365-foot man-made hill that's on the course. At first, the regulators said it was too tall. Then they said it was too low. They finally decided it was just right—but they want him to pay the fines accrued while they were dithering. They also insist that he put trees in the wrong place: There are 10 in one cluster, not the eight the zoning board wanted.

* In Davidson, North Carolina, police officer Scott Searcy searched a woman's car after noticing that it contained a publication whose cover featured a photo of a marijuana plant. He thought it was High Times; in fact, it was a local weekly that happened to include an article about police using helicopters to find pot. "He acted properly," insists Assistant Police Chief Butch Parker. "He had reasonable suspicion, and we do too." The search turned up nothing illegal.

* In response to an Internet campaign urging Aussies to list their religion as "Jedi" on the census—on the grounds that if enough people do this, the government will allegedly have to recognize the Star Wars order as a legitimate religion—the Australian government has warned citizens that providing false information on the census is a crime. But how will they prove someone isn't really a Jedi?

* Chinese customs officials have confiscated 16,000 copies of a book of photographs of Bill Clinton with world leaders and famous personalities. Seems that one of the photos shows him shaking hands with the Dalai Lama.

* A British court has found Steven Thoburn guilty of selling bananas by the pound; he now faces a fine of up to $1,500 for each offense. Under European Community rules, all goods except draft beer must be sold in metric measures.