Smoking bus survives legal fight
LINCOLN, Neb., March 3 (UPI) -- The owner of a smoking bus parked outside a Lincoln, Neb., diner has won the latest round in what could be a long legal battle with the city.
Gary Walker calls the bus parked near the HiWay Diner the "Freedom Flyer," the Lincoln Journal Star reported. The bus gets electricity from the diner, which is owned by Walker's son, and is equipped with tables, chairs and ashtrays, although there is no food service. Lincoln's ban on smoking in bars and restaurants took effect in January 2005.
A district judge recently upheld a lower court ruling that the bus is not in violation of zoning ordinances.
City Attorney Dana Roper said Lincoln does not plan to appeal. But Walker believes he faces more legal problems and told the newspaper he believes the city is trying to force him into an expensive legal fight.
Roper denied any ill intent, saying Lincoln was obliged to pursue what appeared to be a violation. But he agreed Walker may not have heard the last of him.
"He may be in violation of other ordinances that we'll have to pursue," said Roper.
Demise of foam maker bad news for surfers
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla., March 3 (UPI) -- The demise of the California company that makes hard foam surfboard blanks could be bad news for many surf shops -- and surfers.
Clark Foam closed its doors abruptly in December, apparently because the owner, Grubby Clark, felt he could no longer cope with increasingly stringent federal and California environmental regulations. The factory's contents go on the auction block next week.
That leaves surfboard shops that make custom boards with no place to buy the blanks.
"What we're dealing with now is a guy who had a monopoly on the industry and now that's gone, and everybody's scrambling to find where they're gonna get boards from," John Brooks, a sales representative, told WFTV in central Florida. "But as long as there's surf and the ocean, there will be surf shops to sell surfboards."
Joe Armstrong, owner of Inlet Charley's Surf Shop in New Smyrna Beach, said he expects his shop will survived -- but he predicted that smaller stores will be in trouble.
Voter registration hanky-panky claimed
SANTA ANA, Calif., March 3 (UPI) -- A Republican effort to increase party registration in Southern California, by paying workers up to $10 for each new voter registered, may have backfired.
At least three dozen Democrats complained that either they were pressured into registering as Republicans, or their party registration was switched without their consent or knowledge.
"I told the gentleman that I was a Democrat, but he wanted to sign me up as a Republican so he can get credit for it," Xochi Avila of Anaheim wrote in a complaint. "I was not happy about it, but I went along with it."
Paul Hefner, a Democratic spokesman, called the registration drive "the latest Republican scandal," but Orange County Republican Chairman Scott Baugh told the Los Angeles Times his party is the victim of over-zealous or greedy workers.
"We have no interest in bullying people into becoming Republicans because that's lost bounty money, lost mailing costs, and they're not going to vote Republican," Baugh said.
Ponds at Scots Parliament get fenced in
EDINBURGH, Scotland, March 3 (UPI) -- The ponds at Scotland's prize-winning Parliament Building are getting barriers to keep tourists from falling in.
That comes after one visitor, transfixed by Enric Miralles' design, walked into one of the pools, The Scotsman reported. The tourist survived with no apparent harm and made no complaint -- the water is only inches deep -- but a security guard saw the incident and steps have been taken to prevent a repetition.
"The Parliament already has planned improvements to the pond edges in place and will discuss if any additional action needs to be taken," a parliamentary spokesman said.
The building was the last work by Miralles, a Barcelona architect who died in 2000 at the age of 44. Admirers say the building, while unmistakably modern, fits into its setting in an old city.
The anvil-shaped ponds are thought to echo the shape of the skates in one of the best-known 19th century Scottish pictures, Raeburn's portrait of the Rev. Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch.