Your Government Knows Best: A 2007 federal energy- independence law required companies that supply motor fuel in the U.S. to blend in a certain cellulose-based ingredient starting in 2011 — even though (as the Environmental Protection Agency well knows) the ingredient simply does not now exist. A New York Times reporter checked with the EPA in January and found that the companies will still have to pay the monetary penalties for noncompliance (and almost certainly the even-stiffer penalties for 2012, since the ingredient is still two or three years from development). "It belies logic," said a petrochemicals trade association executive.
-On Nov. 5, the 220 inhabitants of Coll, an island off the coast of Scotland, endured the first "crime" that any of the residents could remember. Someone vandalized the public lavatories at a visitors' facility, doing the equivalent of about $300 damage. A constable was summoned from a nearby island to investigate, but seas were rough, and he had to wait for two days for the ferry to run. According to a Daily Telegraph report, the culprit is "still at large."
-The U.S. Air Force Academy last year installed an $80,000 rock garden/fire pit on its campus for use by several "Earth-based" religions (pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and various Native American faiths). For the current year, only three of the 4,300 cadets have identified themselves in that group, but the academy is sensitive to the issue after a 2005 lawsuit accused administrators and cadets of allowing too-aggressive proselytizing on behalf of Christian religions. For the record, the academy currently has 11 Muslim cadets, 16 Buddhists, 10 Hindus and 43 self-described atheists.
-Just two weeks before the January worldwide Internet protest against proposed copyright-protection legislation, the Missionary Church of Kopimism in Sweden announced that it had been granted official government status as a religion (one of 22 so recognized), even though its entire reason for being is to celebrate the right to share files of information — in any form, but especially on the Internet. Swedish law makes such religious recognition easy, requiring only "a belief system with rituals." The Kopimism website demonizes "copyright believers" who "derive their power by limiting people's lives and freedom."
Least Competent Criminals
-In Bennington, Vt., in December, Adam Hall, 34, was accused of vandalizing his ex-girlfriend's car, including scratching the word "slut" into the hood (except that the word was spelled s-u-l-t). Hall initially denied any involvement until an officer handed him a sheet of paper and asked him to write the sentence, "You are a slut." Sure enough, Hall spelled slut "sult" and was promptly charged with malicious mischief.
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