Alibi V.28 No.1 • Jan 3-9, 2019 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts asked a student to remove a sign that said, “Fuck Nazis” because it wasn't inclusive. According to The Boston Globe, UMass Amherst student Nichole Parsons placed the sign in her dorm window after an unknown vandal drew a swastika on a “Happy Hanukkah” sign that had been posted by a Jewish resident assistant. Parsons told reporters that the university failed to properly respond to the incident, so she took it upon herself to confront the unknown perpetrator. The sign goes on to say, “Nazis You Are Not Welcome Here.” On Dec. 18, Parsons was reportedly asked to remove the sign, but she refused. She then received an email from residence director Eddie Papazoni acknowledging that the sign was protected by the student's right to free speech, but asking her to remove it. Papazoni said that the sign should be removed “so that all students can be a part of an inclusive residential experience, as well as having a respectful environment to be a part of here on our campus.” In a written response, UMass Amherst spokesman Ed Blaguszewski told reporters that Papazoni's email had been “poorly worded” and said the student could continue to display the sign. However, he said the university was “sensitive to the use of profanity, which some may find inappropriate.”

Dateline: Canada

Last week, the Canadian government confirmed that Santa Claus is a tax-paying resident of Canada. Although the North Pole isn't officially owned by any country, numerous Canadian officials made statements affirming Santa's citizenship status, reports CTV News. While privacy concerns barred the release of official papers, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen's office was able to confirm that “Santa and Mrs. Claus are Canadian citizens and reside in the North Pole.” A spokesperson for the minister also noted that the Claus' traditional garb of red and white signaled a patriotic spirit. The Canada Revenue Agency provided this statement to reporters: “The confidentiality provisions of the Income Tax Act prevent the CRA from commenting on specific cases … However, on special exception, and with the kind permission of Mr. and Mrs. Claus (henceforth known as 'the Taxpayers'), the CRA has been permitted to share some confidential filing information.” The statement went on to say that the couple received tax reductions only available to those who have lived in the area for at least six months in the last year. They have reportedly filed on time every year for as long as the agency has been in operation. The agency confirmed that the Claus' finances have been investigated on a number of occasions, including over claims that they paid workers in “holiday cheer” and accepted payment in the form of cookies and carrots.

Dateline: Alabama

An Alabama Police Department has come under fire for blaming a spike in murders on Satan. According to AL.com, the Opp Police Department made a Facebook post last month blaming a recent increase in local homicides on the small community's young people and claiming it happened because the citizens of Covington County have “turned away from God and embraced Satan.” The post was made in response to two shootings that happened in as many days and resulted in fatalities. The post went on to say, “It is time to ask for God's help to stop this … There are sheep; there are wolves and there are sheep dogs. Which group do you belong to?” A Wisconsin-based group—the Freedom From Religion Federation—wrote a letter to the department, condemning its promotion of specific religious beliefs and mentioning multiple citizen complaints that had been lodged against it. “We write to ensure the department take down its promotion of religion (and contempt for one specific religion—Satanism) and cease including religious remarks in social media posts,” the letter said. The offensive post has since been removed.

Dateline: China

A bathroom in a Chinese park has been outfitted with facial recognition technology to curb paper waste and theft. Sputnik International reports a machine has been installed in a restroom at the Baotu Spring Park in the Shandong province that scans a user's face and dispenses around 27 inches of toilet paper. The gadget's scanning technology allows it to tell if a user is attempting to get more than their allotted share and will not dispense any more. Users have to wait at least nine minutes before they are allowed to receive more paper. The bathroom is reportedly using 10 fewer rolls of toilet paper than before the machine was installed. Toilet paper dispensers using facial recognition technology were first introduced in Beijing last year after local media reported on the large number of thieves stealing paper from public restrooms at the Temple of Heaven complex. According to Abacus News, more public restrooms in China are having the technology installed as a result of China’s president pronouncing a “Toilet Revolution” in 2015 to combat negative perceptions of the nation's restrooms. Some restrooms have reportedly been renovated with cell phone charging stations, electronic occupancy indicators and sensors that detect ammonium and release air fresheners.

Compiled by Joshua Lee. Email your weird news to josh@alibi.com.