News of the Weird
*The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority in Glasgow, Scotland, announced a cutback in services in March because there was only one sperm donor left in the city, and even he will face mandatory retirement after ten pregnancies. Although the donor was not identified or described, officials warned couples to lower their expectations about their genetic choices.
*In March the Seattle Police Department ordered the 26 employees in its fingerprint unit to attend a mandatory half-hour safety class in how to sit down. Recently, three of the unit's employees had filed worker compensation claims for injuries that occurred as they were attempting to sit in chairs with rollers. The proper technique, according to an internal memo, is: "Take hold of the arms and get control of the chair before sitting down."
*Only in California: In March the Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto began offering sushi (a vegetarian version, wrapped in seaweed) in its lunchroom.
*Constable Carol Hashimoto told the Edmonton Journal in January that she had recently ministered to, over the phone, a man who was severely guilt-racked that he had driven home to Valleyview, Alberta, four hours away, without his driver's license, which he had accidentally left in an Edmonton hotel room. And in Charlotte, North Carolina, at his February sentencing for laundering money others had taken in a robbery, John Calvin Hodge Sr., 69, revealed that indeed he had declared his $40,000 laundering fee on his IRS return and had paid the tax on it.
New Frontiers in Bearing Arms
*William L. Straiter, 26, was arrested in Durham, North Carolina, in December and charged with robbing the Centura Bank. The robber had presented a teller with a note demanding money and containing a finely detailed drawing of a gun, but Straiter did not actually have a gun and was not charged with armed robbery. However, Terry Williams, 23, was arrested in Oakland, California, in March after a road-rage collision in which he allegedly clasped his empty hands as if he had a gun, pointed at the other driver and yelled "Bang!" The prosecutor charged Williams with making a terroristic threat, in that his gesture would likely "provoke a retaliatory response from someone with a weapon."
Government in Action
*In November, the mayor of South Gate, California, adjacent to Los Angeles, proposed an ordinance banning the colors "wild orange, rose, lavender and turquoise" on houses. One resident said he'd paint over his colorful house only if the mayor had a good reason, "like if cars were crashing into each other because the drivers were looking at [my house]. Or if it hurt people's eyes." However, in January the Joliet [Illinois] City Council passed an ordinance requiring builders to make houses less boring by mixing up their aesthetic features and colors. Said City Councilman Joseph Shetina, who supported the ordinance because too many row houses look alike: "[Y]ou go home drunk, and you'd never know which house was yours."
-- By Chuck Shepherd
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