Florida’s second-most populous county, Broward, announced in December it was removing the agricultural tax break for 127 properties because it appeared their “farming” work was a sham. Broward’s property appraiser estimated the county had lost “hundreds of millions of dollars” over the years granting the bogus reductions — as landowners were blatantly housing just a few cows (in some cases, merely renting them) to graze and calling that “agricultural.” The appraiser’s office, after auditing only a few of the exemptions, found, for example, that land occupied by a government-contract prison was “agricultural” (with a rent-a-cow arrangement).
The Ontario College of Trades ministry, finally implementing a long-ago reclassification of about 300,000 professionals, announced in November that barbers would immediately face fines if they had not acquired new licenses demonstrating proficiency with perms and highlighting and other aspects of women’s hairstyling. Even barbers who had cut men’s hair for decades and with no desire to accept female customers would probably need a costly study program for the upgrade, which one barber estimated at 2,000 hours and $5,000 or more. Said one exasperated old-timer, “We’re barbers, not neurosurgeons.”
A September report from the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that almost 9 percent of all federal government spending occurred during the last week of the government’s fiscal year, as agencies scrambled to buy things they previously had not needed but suddenly did — because the money would otherwise disappear. Further, the report found that contracts made during that perhaps-frenzied final week were from double to more than five times as likely to be poorly executed as contracts made earlier in the fiscal year.
South Africa has been slow to embrace the “performance art” that is a staple of American and European popular culture, but artist Anthea Moys is creating her own space, according to a December Wall Street Journal dispatch from Johannesburg. Recently she played an exhibition soccer game — alone against an 11-player lineup. Her “team” quickly fell behind, but sympathetic spectators wandered onto the pitch to help her, and she managed to lose by only 12-0. Before that, she had entered a 60-mile bicycle race in Johannesburg and, dressed properly in helmet and Spandex, she mounted a stationary bike at the starting line and began pedaling furiously as the other cyclists took off. “I’m not very competitive,” she said. “I’m interested in the joy of games and how people view them.”
Police in Denver said the same man (still on the loose), in his 50s and about 5 feet 8, robbed three banks in the area in December and faces up to 60 years in prison if caught. Either he employs a finely detailed disguise, or he is robbing banks under a significant disability, for in each job he wears a “medical mask” and lugs around a portable oxygen supply.
From the Nov. 11 weekly report of the Dakota County (Minn.) sheriff came word from the Hastings Police Department that a sergeant arriving to investigate a fight in a store’s parking lot in fact encountered only a single car with several young men inside. The sergeant said he strolled up to the car to ask about a fight, but was pre-empted when one of the men said, “I know why you’re here,” and pulled three pairs of pants, shoplifted from the store, from inside his shirt. He was arrested.
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