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Among the lingering sex-based customs in Saudi Arabia is the restriction on women's working outside the home, which forces lingerie shops to be staffed only with males, who must awkwardly make recommendations on women's bra styles and sizes. The campaign for change, led by a Jeddah college lecturer, has enlisted even some clerks, who are just as embarrassed about the confrontation as the customers, according to a February BBC News dispatch.

Only in Japan/Only in Sweden: Sega Toys Co. reported in January that, in just three months, it had sold 50,000 units of the Pekoppa, a "plant" consisting of leaves and branches that flutter when "spoken to," the success of which the company attributes to the epic loneliness of many Japanese.

Advocates for children complained in April that Sweden's national library, acting on a standing order to archive copies of all domestic publications, has been gathering books and magazines of child pornography from the years 1971-1980, when it was legal, and, as libraries do, lending them out.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace commenced campaigns in February critical of the peculiar preference of Americans for ultra-soft or quilted toilet paper. In less-picky Europe and Latin America, 40 percent of toilet paper is produced by recycling, but Americans' demand for multi-ply tissue requires virgin wood for 98 percent of the product. The activists claim that U.S. toilet paper imposes more costs on the planet than do gas-guzzling cars.

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