The skinny

1 man + 1 peanut + 1 squirrel = $50 fine + 1 song

kabul, afghanistan Off to the mountains With plenty of padding beneath them, Afghan Kuchi children travel on a camel Tuesday. The Kuchis are Pashtun nomadic herders who move to pasture lands in the mountains of central Afghanistan in the summer and spend the winter in warmer places.

Associated Press

kabul, afghanistan Off to the mountains With plenty of padding beneath them, Afghan Kuchi children travel on a camel Tuesday. The Kuchis are Pashtun nomadic herders who move to pasture lands in the mountains of central Afghanistan in the summer and spend the winter in warmer places.

Squirrels!

1 Man + 1 Peanut + 1 squirrel = $50 fine + 1 song

A Montreal blues musician who ignored a ticket for feeding a squirrel in a park for more than two years was given four months to pay a $50 fine Monday. Bruce Kert had — gasp! — tossed a peanut to a squirrel in Westmount in 2006, a violation of a bylaw to discourage the spread of vermin. Kert said that because he missed several court dates, the original $40 fine had risen to $455. He said he didn't know why it was reduced to $50 at Monday's hearing. He also complained he wasn't first given a warning by the public safety officer who ticketed him. To hear the story in Kert's own words, listen to Squirrelgate online at links.tampabay.com.

You saw a squirrel? No? Anyway, tell us

Scientists attempting to count the number of squirrels per ZIP code in the Chicago area are asking people to record sightings of the rodents on a Web site. The Chicago Academy of Sciences, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the University of Illinois at Chicago say data collected on ­projectsquirrel.org will offer insight into the rodents' behavior and the overall ecology of the region. Visitors to the Web site are taken through a checklist that asks for the date, time, location and other information. So far, so good. But the researchers are also asking area residents to report when they see no squirrels, as that can mean something, too. This will yield reams of useful data, for sure.

Smoke, or else

Economic health or actual health?

A Chinese county recently told civil servants and teachers to smoke 230,000 packs of the locally-made Hubei brand cigarettes each year or face being fined or even fired. "The regulation will boost the local economy via the cigarette tax," a member of the cigarette market supervision team in Gong'an county, Hubei province, said then. A newspaper speculated the measure was probably an attempt to shore up the Hubei brands against competition from cigarettes produced elsewhere. Local authorities were initially undeterred by health risks, but have backtracked after facing criticism. "We decided to remove this edict," a statement said Tuesday without elaborating.

Swine flu

Country's only pig now even lonelier

Afghanistan's only known pig has been locked in a room, away from visitors to Kabul zoo where it normally grazes beside deer and goats, because people are worried it could infect them with swine flu. The pig is a curiosity in Muslim Afghanistan, where pork and pig products are illegal because they are considered irreligious, and has been in quarantine since Sunday after visitors expressed alarm it could spread the new flu strain. "Most people don't have enough knowledge. When they see the pig in the cage they get worried and think that they could get ill," zoo director Aziz Gul Saqib said.

Compiled from Times wires and sources.

1 man + 1 peanut + 1 squirrel = $50 fine + 1 song 05/05/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 5, 2009 10:27pm]

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