Dateline: Canada--The city of Richmond, British Columbia, under pressure for alleged sexual harassment within its fire department, will now be assigning gender-neutral underwear to it firefighters. The city has spent C$16,000 ($14,200) to buy six pairs of boxer shorts for each of the city’s firefighters in a bid to make firehalls in the Vancouver suburb more gender neutral. “We supply firefighters with various pieces of gear such as gloves, now it’s underwear,” city official Ted Townsend told the Vancouver Sun, saying it was all part of the “integration of the sexes in the workplace.” The underwear policy comes in the wake of a recent investigation of the department, which described its workplace culture as “characterized by juvenile and hostile behavior” toward female firefighters by their male colleagues. Firefighters strip off most of their clothes in order to don protective gear when responding to fire alarms.
Dateline: India--In a bid to curtail crime, the entire city of Aurangabad is being painted pink. Aurangabad is the center of a Maoist insurgency, and the town’s leaders hope the new color scheme will lift the morale among residents. The town’s subdivision officer, Arvind Kumar Singh, said, “What better color than pink, which symbolizes good mood, soothing sight and good feelings?” As of last week, all municipal buildings and about 80 percent of private homes were painted. The all-pink burgh is expected to be completed by early November.
Dateline: West Virgina--Meanwhile, in the town of Huntington, a man is in trouble for trying to paint a local bridge pink. Jason Sansom was walking by the bridge over Fourpole Creek in Ritter Park late last month when he noticed it needed a paint job. He decided then and there that he wanted to do something to help clean up the city, so he bought $50 worth of paint and went to work. Sansom said he chose pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. He got about an hour into the paint job before a park official wandered by and told him to stop. Jim McClelland, executive director of the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, said he became aware of Sansom’s deed when he got a call from his superintendent of buildings and grounds. After determining that Sansom’s actions were sincere, he asked the budding bridge painter to come back when the weather is warmer and repaint the bridge--this time using white paint. McClelland told reporters that, while breast cancer awareness is a fine cause, any colors used in the park system must be approved by the district.
Dateline: California--A judge in Riverside last week dismissed a case of indecent exposure against a woman accused of disrobing in front of a 14-year-old boy, saying that only men can be indecently exposed. Superior Court Judge Robert W. Armstrong said the law in question only mentions someone who “exposes his person.” Because of that wording, Armstrong decided that the law is “gender specific” and dismissed charges against 40-year-old Alexis Luz Garcia of Corona, who was cited in May after parents of a neighbor boy said she showed him full frontal nudity while he played basketball outdoors. Garcia had allegedly complained that the 14-year-old was making too much noise while playing basketball. In order to stop him, she went out on her sundeck and removed all her clothes. The boy ran inside and told his parents, who called police. “She threatened to do it every time he played basketball,” Prosecutor Alison N. Norton told the Los Angeles Times. Norton plans to appeal the judge’s ruling, noting another section of the state law that explicitly says “words used in the masculine gender include the feminine and neutral.”
Dateline: Indiana--If you’re going to fail, you might as well fail spectacularly. A 20-year-old girl taking her driver’s test in the town of Portage ended up crashing through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles office. The young woman was pulling into a parking space outside the license branch when she hit the accelerator instead of the brake, Assistant Fire Chief Mike Bucy said. The car jumped the curb and went into the building at about 1:30 p.m. last week. The vehicle tore out a large plate glass window, damaged a door and knocked down a low brick wall in the strip mall complex. Neither the driver nor the examiner, who were not identified, were injured. Bucy said a person in the building sustained a hip injury and was examined by emergency medical personnel but declined to be taken to the hospital. The driver’s car suffered damage to the hood and fenders. The building was shut down for the remainder of the day but reopened the next morning. The would-be driver was not issued a license. “I think it’s fair to say the customer did not meet the required criteria,” said Greg Cook, a Bureau of Motor Vehicles spokesperson.