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Armed with scripture and a .38 

In April the Kentucky legislature approved a bill to permit preachers to carry concealed weapons in church. Some ministers had claimed they needed protection when transporting their offering-plate proceeds, but the executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches said she was "appalled" by the legislature's decision.

Sob story

On the day before Good Friday, reported the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Ernesto A. Moshe Montgomery consecrated the Shrine of the Weeping Shirley MacLaine in a room in the Beta Israel Temple in Los Angeles. Inspired by a vision he said he had while riding in the actress' private jet, Montgomery also said a large photograph of him with MacLaine was "observed shedding tears," which had inspired prayers and testimony of miraculous healings.

Unwise guys

Tape recordings played in March at the Detroit trial of an organized crime gang exposed two alleged soldiers as somewhat less than "wise" guys. FBI bugs planted in their cars and homes revealed, among other comical exchanges, that they got lost trying to find an expressway after shooting out a rival's windows, were not sure whether they needed to fill out federal forms to buy ammunition, expressed frustration that they couldn't conduct a shooting at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night because of heavy pedestrian traffic ("They're telling me Detroit's not safe? They got two old ladies walking"), and wondered about their wives ("I think she kind of knows. I think she knows we're gangsters").

Dam lies

In December, according to an exchange of letters excerpted in The Wall Street Journal, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, acting on the complaint of a neighbor, scolded a Montcalm County landowner for "construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond," reminding him that a permit is required for such "inherently dangerous" construction and threatening him against any further "unauthorized activity." Subsequent investigation by the department revealed the dams to have been built by beavers.

Spitting image

In March the town council of Tangier Island, Md., the proposed site for shooting the Warner Bros. movie "Message in a Bottle" starring Paul Newman and Kevin Costner, informed the producers that they were looking forward to the filming but that the script would have to be changed to eliminate all cursing, sex and alcoholic beverages. And Joe Paul of Sun City, Ariz., has been keeping score at Arizona Diamondbacks' games this year, not of runs and hits but of instances of baseball players spitting, which Paul says violates state law, enforcement of which he has demanded in letters to health authorities.

Wireless communication

Abby Kisling filed a wrongful-firing lawsuit in February in Des Moines, Iowa, against the telecommunications firm USA Global Link Inc., claiming she was terminated because she doesn't believe in transcendental meditation. Almost all of the firm's employees meditate on company time, and many are graduates of the nearby Maharishi University of Management.

Claims adjustment

Charles Cornell, 31, won his lawsuit at the High Court in London, England, in March and was awarded about $100,000 in damages. Cornell's insurance businesses failed when sales plummeted following his automobile accident. In the crash, he received a head injury that his doctors said left him with a gentler, more amiable personality that Cornell said is unsuited for the insurance business.

Figuratively speaking

In January, Professor Sandro Trotti invited a pair of 20-year-old women to be models in his Academy of Fine Arts class in Rome, Italy, to illustrate "Sacred and Profane Love" (Venus clothed vs. Venus nude). Trotti's move was met with protests by the academy's in-house models who have traditionally illustrated all the classes, nude or clothed, despite the fact that some have passed their 60th birthdays. The academy apparently compounded the problem by offering the older models options for alternative employment, such as cleaning ladies.

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