Part-time Devon, England, vicar Gavin Tyte, who serves churches in Uplyme and Axmouth, recently produced a rap video of the Nativity, in which he plays a shepherd, an angel and the narrator. Sample lyrics (about Mary placing her baby in a cattle trough and angels calming the frightened shepherds): "No hotel, motel, custom baby-changer / She wrapped the baby up and laid him in a manger" and "Chill out, my friends, there's no need for trepidation / Got a message for the world, and it's elation information."
Government in Action!
• Apparently, not only will there be fewer overall resources for disabled people in Greece (due to government austerity), but the resources will be spread over a larger number of recipients. The Labor Ministry in January expanded the category of eligible "disabled" (with reduced-amount payments) to include pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists, sadomasochists, pedophiles, exhibitionists and kleptomaniacs. The National Confederation of Disabled People said the changes would inevitably reduce funds available for the blind and the crippled and other traditional categories of need.
• Even at a time of schoolteacher layoffs nationally, the Buffalo, N.Y., school system continues to cover all costs for cosmetic surgery for teachers. The benefit was established in the calmer 1970s, and no one, it seems, anticipated the facelift and liposuction crazes that subsequently developed. The annual expense in recent years, for about 500 benefit-takers a year, has been from $5 million to $9 million (equivalent to the average salaries of at least 100 teachers). The teachers' union said it is willing to give up the benefit in a new collective bargaining agreement, but a quirk in New York law lessens the incentive of teachers to negotiate such a contract (in that the current, highly lucrative contract remains in force until replaced).
• In February, Kenneth Gunn, of the U.K.'s Scottish Borders Council, decried the budget cutbacks that closed down local offices that had previously posted marriage notices. By making it more difficult for the public to be aware of specific marriages, Gunn feared an inevitable increase in incest. "I am aware in my own ward of brothers sitting beside sisters they do not know in primary school." (The problem is more serious in Iceland, whose 300,000 people are far more self-contained. However, a new website containing genealogical data back 1,200 years is expected to help reduce the risk of incest.)
Least Competent Criminals
• Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) An unidentified man fled and is still at large after attempting to break into the change machine at the Busy Bubbles laundromat in Winter Haven, Fla., in January. The surveillance video showed the man shooting at the machine four times with a handgun, but no money came out. (2) Two men were arrested in Albuquerque in January after being caught in the act of a home burglary by a neighbor, who called the police. The men were apprehended with various burglarized goodies as they made their getaway in a grocery store shopping cart.
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