Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (past editions):
THE WRONG HAIR, IN GAZA
It's been a tough week for the Hamas Fashion Police. First they faced the grueling assignment of cutting off the hair of any man who offends them, and now their own bosses are condemning their actions in the international press.
News of the Lookin' Good Unit spread this weekend when a pair of young men accused members of the police of abducting them from the street and shaving their heads. The style crackdown, which has been verified by a human-rights group, targeted at least two dozen dudes who had the misfortune of sporting longish hair or hair sculpted with gel into spikes. Reports the Associated Press:
Al-Sayed said he had just finished his work in Gaza City and was waiting at an intersection for a shared taxi when a police jeep approached. Al-Sayed said he was thrown into the jeep with more than 10 others already squeezed into the back of the vehicle. He said policemen cursed them on the way to the police station.
There, the detainees were lined up, and a policeman began shaving their heads. He shaved two lines, from front to back and from one ear to the other, telling the young men they could finish the job at a neighborhood barber shop.
Those who resisted were beaten, al-Sayed said. He said he asked the policeman to finish the job of shaving so he wouldn’t have to step outside with a partially shaved head.
Pretty extreme – you'd hate to think what they would've done to somebody with dreadlocks.
The forced haircuts seem to fall in line with other Hamas actions toward a fundamentalist society, such as banning women from running in a United Nations marathon and legislating separate classrooms for boys and girls over age 9. The police also reportedly have beaten male pedestrians on the backs of their knees for the offense of wearing skin-hugging pants.
However, Hamas politicians have distanced themselves from last week's hair Swatting, blaming a small group of arch-conservatives in the police force for abusing their official powers. That hasn't provided much consolation for the men who have been turned into cue balls. As a 19 year old told the AP: “The only thing I want to do is leave this country.”
GUNS FOR THE AVERAGE JOE, IN WISCONSIN
Civic gadflies in Racine who love arguing with politicians at public meetings might want to simmer down, seeing as how they're now outgunned. The city council just passed an ordinance banning weapons from municipal buildings, with a big exception for elected officials who have concealed-carry licenses.
If you're wondering how the vote split, it was 9 to 5.
The reasoning behind this uneven allotment of firepower is that crazed killers might be inclined to target politicians, like what happened with Gabby Giffords in Arizona. So the pols naturally require something shoot back with. A few of Racine's citizens are uneasy with this new law. As one local man said at a council meeting last week, according to the Journal Times: "When you deprive us of a constitutional right but then turn around and give it to yourselves – that is incomprehensible."
The council members who voted against this ordinance voiced similar concerns, with one saying he would've voted for the gun ban if there hadn't been an exemption.
A DEVIL WEED, IN NEW YORK
New York is fighting back against a fast-growing enemy that lurks beneath the waters: hydrilla, the kudzu of lakes.
The invasive species made its way into Florida in the 1950s probably as an aquarium plant and has since dominated waterways along the Eastern seaboard and in the South, growing as fast as an inch a day with tendrils up to 25 feet long. This insidious creeper enters lakes where it flourishes invisibly until the whole body of water is packed with its saw-toothed leaves. When the bulky biomass finally bursts through the surface, it acts as a shag carpet snaring everything it encounters: boat propellers, fishing hooks, swimming canines.
Florida spends millions each year to poison and harvest the stuff, and has toyed with turning loose a herd of manatees to munch up all the weeds. New York would rather not fight that war (except perhaps for the manatee part, because who would turn away those adorable things?). Yates County is set to become the fourth county in the state to ban hydrilla, with legislation pending that would throw 15 days of jail at people who introduce it into local waters – say, by dropping a boat into the lake that has bits of hydrilla clinging to it.
One local pol has already conceded partial defeat. District 2 Legislator Richard Willson claims that trying to prevent the weed from spreading is hopeless, because its seeds are blown on the wind or dropped by birds, and that the best thing to do is prepare a battle plan for when the dreaded plant arrives. He said simply banning it is just a “feel good thing,” according the Chronicle Express.