Watercooler Stories

Feb. 6, 2009 at 6:30 AM
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Court gives union right to use rat balloon

TRENTON, N.J., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A union has the right to display an inflatable balloon in the shape of a rat during protests, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled.

The court found that an ordinance in Lawrence, N.J., banning inflatable signs isn't content-neutral because it allows businesses to use such displays for "grand openings."

The case began in 2005 when Local 269 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers protested outside Gold's Gym because of a dispute with a contractor. The union took a 10-foot inflatable rat to the demonstration.

A union official, Wayne DeAngelo, was given a summons when he refused to obey a police officer who told him to deflate the balloon. DeAngelo lost in municipal court, Superior Court and the Appellate Division before winning in the Supreme Court.

Lower courts found that the ordinance has a legitimate purpose -- keeping Lawrence safe and beautiful. The high court disagreed because Lawrence allows temporary signs including "grand opening" balloons and signs for yard sales.

Porn found on teen's new phone

TOOWONG, Australia, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- An Australian man said his complaints about pornographic images discovered on the cell phone he gave his daughter for Christmas have gone unaddressed.

John Roberts said the Nokia 6210 Navigator he purchased in November from the 3 mobile store in Toowong was found to contain images of men and women engaged in sex acts after his 14-year-old daughter took it out of its packaging on Christmas, the Brisbane Courier-Mail reported.

"I was really embarrassed -- it tears me apart, I don't know how to talk to her about that sort of imagery," Roberts said.

He said subsequent visits to the 3 store, and letters sent to both the store and Nokia, have failed to yield even a basic apology.

"When I first confronted them at the store where I bought it they thought it was hilarious," Roberts said.

"My daughter's pretty devastated over this," he said. "At the end of the day all I want is someone to say to me, to my daughter, they're sorry this happened."

Edwina Elliott, corporate public relations manager for 3, said the store is investigating the complaint.

Swedish government workers blast Web plan

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Swedish government employees have sharply criticized a proposal that would bar them from visiting Web sites featuring violence, racism and sexual material.

Jan Landahl, head of the Swedish government's administrative section, proposed that employees in government offices be barred from viewing Web sites with "horrible" contents and "criminal competence" -- including sites discussing drugs, hacking, racism, pornography and sexual material -- the Swedish news agency TT reported.

The proposal, which was submitted to government ministries for comment, would ban "pages which describe physical violence against people, animals, or institutions" and "pages with information on the purchase, manufacturing, or use of weapons."

Government employees have blasted the proposal as poorly conceived and a potentially illegal form of censorship. Ministry of Foreign Affairs employees said in opposing the plan that Landahl's directive would interfere with their duty to monitor several Web sites because the sites would be banned.

Landahl and the government's general counsel refused to comment on the matter, TT said.

iPhone game inspired by Blagojevich

CHICAGO, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A Chicago native has unveiled "Pay2Play," a Rod Blagojevich-inspired video game for the iPhone that allows players to sell U.S. Senate seats.

Juan "J" Rubio, 32, who lives in Vancouver, said he was inspired by the impeached governor to create the game, which places players in the office of Illinois governor with mounting debt and impeachment at their heels, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The objective of "Pay2Play" is to earn cash by buying and selling Senate seats and other "cushy jobs" before the end of the player's term in office.

"Growing up in Chicago and living in Mexico for a bit gave me all the ammo I had needed," Rubio said. "Now anyone can buy and sell Senate seats without having to worry about going to jail."

Rubio said he received a letter Monday from Apple informing him that the game needs "unexpected additional time for review." In the meantime, Rubio said he may post an "unrated" version of the game on his Web site for computer users.

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