Watercooler Stories

Britain pulls offensive personal plates

WORCESTERSHIRE, England, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Two of 1,600 personalized license plates to be auctioned by a British agency were pulled after a gay rights group complained, officials said.


Stonewall, a gay rights charity, objected to two registrations: F4 GOT and D1 KES. They said the tags could be read as FAGOT and DIKES, derogatory terms against gays and lesbians, The Mail on Sunday reported.

Each plate had a $1,434 reserve bid.

"All publicly funded bodies should act appropriately when approving language that is potentially offensive to any community," James Lawrence, a Stonewall spokesman said.

The auction is set for Wednesday. The controversial plates are listed in the catalogue, but will be pulled by the auctioneers.

The Britain's Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has a list of what it calls "suppressed combinations" or "potentially sensitive registration marks." These include 054MA, which could be seen to resemble the first name of al-Qaida mastermind Osama Bin Laden; H057 AGE (HOSTAGE); MA56 ACA (MASSACRE); HE58 0LA (HEZBOLLAH); and BU58 0MB (BUS BOMB).

Drive-through sukkah makes prayer easy

PINECREST, Fla., Oct. 5 (UPI) -- A Florida Jewish congregation has found that providing a drive-through sukkah can help connect an ancient holiday ritual with modern life, clergymen said.


The holiday of Sukkoth, which began Friday night and requires the faithful to say certain prayers within the shelter of a temporary structure called a sukkah, is being celebrated by Bet Shira Congregation in Pinecrest, Fla., in such a non-traditional way, The Miami Herald reported.

The congregation calls the drive-through structure "McBet Shira Sukkah," invoking the first part of the name of a world-famous fast-food restaurant chanins.

"This is a drive-through that will slow us down," Cantor Mark Kula, who conceived of the idea for the drive through, said.

Any member of the public who wishes can drive into the sukkah, park, lower the car window and say the special blessings for the harvest-oriented holiday -- which include shaking a collection of branches called a lulav and a citron, or etrog.

Congregant volunteers hand out snacks to motorists at the end of their visits.

Man to be under lock and key for keying

PALO ALTO, Calif., Oct. 5 (UPI) -- A man must spend at least a month in jail and face stiff probation conditions for keying a car owned by a millionaire in Palo Alto, Calif., a judge has ruled.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Joyce Allegro said in addition to probation and his jail sentence on vandalism charges, Howard Herships must complete psychiatric counseling and three months of anger management classes for scratching millionaire Steve Kirsch's car, the San Jose Mercury News reported.


Herships must also pay Kirsch $5,000 for legal fees.

Herships keyed Kirsch's Toyota RAV4 as it sat in a Palo Alto courthouse parking lot. The incident took place after the Silicon Valley millionaire won a 2005 court case against an unidentified friend of Herships.

Herships, representing himself, filed scores of motions during more than 60 court appearances. Even though the case was based on an act of vandalism, it involved seven judges and four prosecutors, thanks to Herships' legal efforts.

Officials want to rid Berkeley park of sex

BERKELEY, Calif., Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Officials in Berkeley, Calif., say they want men to stop having casual sex in Aquatic Park.

William Rogers, director of parks, recreation and waterfront, said the fact the south side of the Berkeley park has become a well-known location for public sex is hurting the city, The Oakland (Calif.) Tribune reported.

"It's ultimately a quality-of-life issue for residents, our staff and the wildlife being displaced," Rogers said. "There are very good historic reasons why venues like this exist, but this is a public park, and it needs to get addressed."

Parks Superintendent Sue Ferrera said numerous used condoms have been found inside 50 dens carved out of the park's bushes.


Officials told the Tribune that human feces and hypodermic needles have also been found inside the hideouts.

Berkeley police spokesman Andrew Frankel said to limit the number of individuals meeting to have sex, the park's bushes will be cut back.

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