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Seven Things I Didn't Know Were Illegal

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China's recent ban on reincarnation without government permission "“ "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation" "“ inspired our research editor extraordinaire Kara Kovalchik to dig up more examples of bizarre legislation on the books.

Being a Cow and Lacking ID in West Bengal, India

To prevent the smuggling of cattle into Bangladesh, Border Security Guards are issuing mandatory ID cards to cattle owners. The BBC explains: "Valid for two years, each laminated cattle ID card displays the picture of the animal and its owner. It also carries vital information about the animal, such as its color, height, sex and length of horns, the owner's name and address and sometimes other details about the animal "“ like one 'horn missing' or 'half tail lost.'"

This has not been easy on the cattle owners.

"I spent two whole days to get their pictures in a studio," Farid Hussain told the Toronto Star. "One of my cows damaged the lighting system of the studio and I had to pay 800 rupees "“ half of my month's income "“ in damages."

Wearing a Bullet-Proof Vest While Committing a Murder in New Jersey

bulletproof.jpgThou shall not kill. But if thou does, thou shall not have any unfair advantage. "A person is guilty of a crime if he uses or wears a body vest while engaged in the commission of...murder, manslaughter, robbery, sexual assault, burglary, kidnapping, criminal escape or assault."

Seeking West Virginia Political Office with a Duel on Your Resume

duel.jpgWest Virginians want elected officials who will metaphorically fight for their constituents. But not if they've ever actually fought. "Any citizen of this state who shall...fight a duel with deadly weapons, or send or accept a challenge so to do...or knowingly aid or assist in such duel, shall ever thereafter be incapable of holding any office of honor, trust or profit in this state."

Sagging Your Pants in Mansfield, Louisiana

sagging.jpgYou've got nine more days to show off your crazy, sexy and/or cool underwear in Mansfield, a Louisiana town of 5,500 located forty miles south of Shreveport. Starting September 15th, anyone caught wearing sagging pants that expose underwear will be subject to a fine of up to $150 plus court costs "“ or face up to 15 days in jail.

Discouraging the Use of Manual Flushing Devices for Urinals in Utah

urinal.JPGKeeping with yesterday's public restroom theme, don't let the Utah government tell you you can't flush it yourself. "The department shall not promulgate any rules which either directly or indirectly prohibit the use of manual flushing devices for urinals. The department shall take steps to encourage the use of manual flushing devices for urinals." Power to the pee-ers.

Wearing a Hooded Sweatshirt in the Bluewater Shopping Center in Kent, England

dukesweatshirt.jpgI would imagine you can find hooded sweatshirts for sale somewhere within this massive shopping mecca. But don't get caught trying one on. Since 2005, Bluewater has banned hooded tops and baseball hats to prevent thuggish teens from hiding their true identities from security cameras. I guess the mall security detail does not have the power to enact actual legislation, so this is more of a code-of-conduct kind of thing. Regardless, they've also banned swearing.

Chewing Gum Without a Prescription in Singapore

singapore.jpgSingapore's 1994 caning of American Michael Fay was a big international incident to me. Even though I rarely left New Jersey, I was terrified of accidentally winding up in Singapore and breaking a law I didn't know existed. Fay's punishment was for vandalism, but every news story seemed to mention Singapore's strict war on gum. The penalty for smuggling gum was a year in jail and a $5,500 fine. So this one I knew, but hadn't heard the latest.

As part of a 2003 trade deal with the United States "“ with lots of help from the powerful gum lobby "“ Singapore agreed to relax the ban. However, gum is only allowed with a medical prescription.

For more weird laws, check out Becky's previous post on this subject and all the great comments underneath. And if you know of or have been cited for breaking any strange laws, keep the list going.

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.

1. THREE IN FOUR AMERICANS BELIEVE IN THE PARANORMAL (2005)

According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.

2. ONE IN FIVE AMERICANS THINK THE SUN REVOLVES AROUND THE EARTH (1999)

In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.

3. 22 PERCENT OF AMERICANS ARE HESITANT TO SUPPORT A MORMON (2011)

Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.

4. MISSISSIPPIANS GO TO CHURCH THE MOST; VERMONTERS THE LEAST (2010)

This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.

5. ONE IN FOUR AMERICANS DON’T KNOW WHICH COUNTRY AMERICA GAINED INDEPENDENCE FROM (1999)

Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.

6. ONE THIRD OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GHOSTS (2000)

This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.

7. 5 PERCENT OF WORKING MILLENNIALS THRIVE IN ALL FIVE ELEMENTS OF WELL-BEING (2016)

This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.

8. THE WORLD IS BECOMING SLIGHTLY MORE NEGATIVE (2014)

If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”

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