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 V.21 No.14 | April 5 - 11, 2012 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: New York

The NYC Department of Education is generating controversy over its attempt to not generate controversy. The department released a list of 50 banned words and topics that publishers around the country should avoid if they want to be considered for the job of revamping standardized math and English tests in the city. Among the list of topics are obvious taboo areas such as violence, drugs and pornography. Mention of any religious holiday is forbidden. Halloween is banned because fundamentalist Christians think it’s Satanic. Birthday parties are similarly unmentionable because Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate them. The word “dinosaur” cannot be used because it might remind creationists of evolution. Poverty, divorce and any form of disease are not allowed because a child might be experiencing one of those topics in his or her own life. Bodily functions, celebrities, computers in the home, dancing, junk food, “expensive gifts, vacations and prizes,” politics, rap, rock ’n’ roll, television, video games, vermin, and war have also been given the boot. Officials say the listed topics could “evoke unpleasant emotions” or “appear biased.” Avoiding sensitive words on tests is nothing new, says the Department of Education, and the standards are exacting because NYC has such a diverse population.

Dateline: Tennessee

Shortly before 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, Clint Earl Sims entered the lobby of the Madison County Jail and told officers he wanted to turn himself in. A quick records check came up empty for the 32-year-old Jackson resident. “The deputies basically said, ‘We don’t have a warrant for you,’ ” Madison County Sheriff David Woolfork told the Jackson Sun. “Sims said something to the effect of, ‘You will have in a minute.’ ” Sims then stole a gumball machine from the jail and left the building. He walked next door to the Criminal Justice Complex and broke out two windows. Sims then returned to the county jail and turned himself in. He was charged with burglary, felony vandalism and theft of property. He was briefly remanded to a mental health facility for evaluation but was declared OK.

Dateline: Kentucky

A bitter basketball rivalry boiled over when opposing fans got into a knock-down, drag-out brawl in a Georgetown dialysis clinic. Police say the altercation began on the morning of Monday, March 26, with a verbal exchange between a 68-year-old Kentucky fan and a 71-year-old Louisville fan. At the time, both college teams were battling it out for a spot in the NCAA Finals. Both men were in the clinic being treated for kidney problems. Despite being hooked up to machines, the two escalated their argument over which was the superior basketball team. The Kentucky fan allegedly flipped off the Louisville fan, at which point the Louisville fan punched the Kentucky booster in the face. Police were called to the clinic, but no charges were filed.

Dateline: California

A woman is suing McDonald’s—not because the food is unhealthy, but because the fast-food giant allegedly turned her into a prostitute. The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles federal court by Shelley Lynn, who claims that she was hired to work the counter at the Arroyo Grande, Calif., McDonald’s by franchise owner Keith Handley. Lynn says she was wrongfully terminated from the minimum wage job by Handley, who then pressured her to become a hooker. Lynn got a job servicing “up to 12 men a night” at a legal brothel in a desert town on the California-Nevada border. Apparently, she worked as a prostitute for several years and eventually married Handley. Now divorced, Lynn says it’s McDonald’s fault for offering low wages and subpar health insurance and for not properly investigating Handley before selling him the franchise in the first place. According to Courthouse News Service, Lynn’s suit alleges sex trafficking, negligent supervision and racketeering, among other violations of federal law. She’s seeking lost wages, compensatory damages, punitive damages and more.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. Email your weird news to devin@alibi.com.
 
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