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News of the weird 

Smoking ban, government in action! and more

LEAD STORY: In November, a judge upheld a rule passed by a condominium association in Golden, Colo., prohibiting owners from smoking even inside their own units (in that neighbors had been complaining for five years that a couple's cigarette smoke had been seeping into their town houses). A few days earlier, Belmont, Calif., became the first American city to ban smoking everywhere in the city limits, including condominiums and even cars (but not detached, single-family homes). (A day before that, however, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to instruct the police to treat marijuana-smoking as the city's lowest law-enforcement priority.)

Government in Action!: Bright Ideas: The City Council of Greenleaf, Idaho, passed an ordinance in November to require nearly all residents to keep a gun at home in case the town becomes overrun by people relocating after Gulf Coast storms. Also in November, a report from the Missouri House's Special Committee on Immigration Reform blamed much of their state's acquiescence to illegal immigration on the fact that since Roe v. Wade in 1973, 80,000 potential Missourians have been aborted, thus helping to create job vacancies for aliens.

The Powys County Council in Wales warned the maker of Welsh Dragon sausages in November that it must label its product better, such as by marking it "pork sausages" (so as not to mislead about the type of meat it contained).

Great Art!: "I've always had the desire to play [the cello] naked," said Ms. Jesse Hale, a music major at Austin Peay State University (Clarksville, Tenn.) and member of the CJ Boyd Sexxxtet of nude cellists who play their experimental, chant-like songs in concert around the country. Hale, who says she's been playing naked since sixth grade, explained to Austin Peay's newspaper in September that cellists "make full body contact with [their] instrument," and their legs even "wrap" around it so that "[i]t just feels natural."

The magazine Time Out New York reported in September on the "artistic palettes" of the Sprinkle Brigade of artists who dress up dog droppings on New York City streets with glittering candy bits and colorful toothpicks, for "urban beautification."

Police Squad: At the county jail in Dubuque, Iowa, in November, Michael Kelley Jr., 29 and accused of attempted murder, was swapping stories with inmate Jamie Brimeyer, 34, when he asked about Brimeyer's facial scar. As Brimeyer described being stabbed in the cheek by an unknown assailant in 2005, Kelley realized that he was the one who had stabbed him and recalled the incident so well that he corrected some of Brimeyer's recollections. Brimeyer later reported Kelley, who is now also charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

Election Roundup (continued): Libertarian Steve Osborn finished second in the U.S. Senate race in Indiana to incumbent Richard Lugar, more than 1 million votes behind, but two weeks later asked for a recount in 10 precincts. And Utah officials are investigating results in Daggett County, where 947 people were registered to vote on Nov. 7 (compared with the county's entire 2005 census population of 943). And in tiny Waldenburg, Ark., the mayor and his challenger tied at 18 votes each, with the only other candidate, Randy Wooten, receiving zero, which Wooten said was impossible because he had voted for himself.

Least Competent Criminals: Amateurs: A teenager, 17, was placed in a juvenile detention center in Lynnwood, Wash., in October after he got his arm stuck in the dog door of a house he was allegedly attempting to burglarize. (Experienced burglars avoid houses with dog doors because that usually means that a dog is present.) And in Sheboygan, Wis., in November, police arrested Leah Jerolimek, 21, and charged her with trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a gas station, even though the bill (made with a computer and printer) was blank on the back.

Death by Snake: 1) A 48-year-old woman died from a timber rattlesnake bite during services at the East London Holiness Church in London, Ky., in November. The church features a monthly snake-handling service, during which people can prove they are true believers by not getting bitten. 2) In Shamokin, Pa., in October, Terry Jackson, 36, kept police at bay in a suicidal standoff in which she wielded five poisonous snakes (from an aquarium in her home). They bit her hand and face numerous times, leaving her bloody, until police subdued her with a Taser gun. She was hospitalized in critical condition but survived and will face charges for threatening police.

© 2006 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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