"The worshipful treatment of pets may be the thing that unites all Americans," wrote an Atlantic Magazine blogger in July, describing the luxury terminal for animals under construction at New York's JFK airport. The ARK will offer shower stalls for traveling horses, "conjugal stations" for penguins, and housing for nearly 200 cows — and passengers traveling with dogs or cats can book the Paradise 4 Paws pet-pampering resort. The ARK is a for-profit venture; said one industry source, quoted in a July Crain's New York Business report, "You hear stories about the crazy money that rich people spend on their [animals] … they're mostly true."
Government in action
Officially, now, it is "unreasonable" for a federal agency (the Bureau of Land Management, in this instance) to fail to say yes or no for 29 years to a drilling permit application. A company had requested to drill just one exploratory well in Montana for natural gas in 1985, but the bureau had delayed the proceeding six times since then. The federal court judge ordered the bureau in July to set a deadline for deciding.
Georgia, one of six states that make taxpayers shell out huge fees to access its databases of public records, tries so relentlessly to control its archive that, recently, in a federal lawsuit, it said opposition to its policy was basically "terrorism." Activists (Public.Resource.org) have been establishing workarounds to free up some databases for citizen use, and Georgia demands that they stop. Georgia even claims "copyright" protection for one category of important legal documents, calling them "original" and "creative" works.
In July, the mayor of the town of Ador, Spain (pop. 1,400), officially enacted into law what had merely been custom — a required siesta from 2 to 5 p.m. Businesses were ordered to close, and children were to remain indoors (and quiet).
At a traffic stop in Rockingham, Vt., on July 26, both driver and passenger were charged with driving under the influence. Erik Polite, 35, was the driver (clocked at 106 miles per hour on Interstate 91 and, according to police, with drugs in the car), and while he was being screened for intoxication, passenger Leeshawn Baker, 34, jumped behind the wheel and peeled off in reverse across the highway, nearly hitting the trooper, who arrested him.
Nathaniel Harrison, 38, was arrested in July in a Phoenix suburb on several charges, including possession of a deadly weapon during a felony, but he escaped an even more serious charge when a second "deadly weapon" failed to engage. Harrison reportedly intended to retaliate against a "snitch" by pointing a rattlesnake at the man, hoping it would bite him. However, the snake balked, and Harrison's attempted payback failed.
Daniel Baker, 40, and Robert Richardson, 19, were arrested in Altoona, Fla., in August after getting caught loading appliances from a vacant house. According to the arrest report, both men appeared incredulous to learn that items in a vacant house aren't just "free."
The joy of protest
An Aug. 1 demonstration outside Britain's Parliament protesting legislation to curb until-now-legal psychoactive drugs drew about 100 people — consuming their drug of choice, nitrous oxide. As organizers distributed gas-filled balloons for demonstrators to take hits from, "the group erupted in fits of laughter," according to the Guardian.
Funny Old World
The Welsh language is such a severe mutation of the English spoken in the Middle Ages that it is barely distinguishable from, say, Klingon. In fact, in July, the Welsh government, responding to queries about a possible UFO sighting near Cardiff airport, playfully issued its galaxy-friendly response in Klingon — "jang vlDa je due luq," meaning that further information will be provided. (In Welsh, for example, "I cannot understand Welsh" is "nad oes modd i ddeall Cymraeg.")
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