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Questionable Judgments

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In January, Prince William County, Va., supervisors told Robert Bird, the longtime chief of the volunteer firehouse in Gainesville, that it would be shut down if Bird and his wife and 19-year-old daughter didn't move out. They had taken up residence upstairs from the truck decades ago (a Washington Post reporter was not able to track down exactly when) and built a customized kitchen for themselves with room for 16 guests, a weight room, and a large family room with a 50-inch TV set. Said the chairman of the supervisors, "There is a difference between sleeping in the station and living in the station."

"This adds an extra dimension people will appreciate," said Hobart, Australia, mayor Rob Valentine in December, announcing that at the annual Taste Festival later that month, performance artists would entertain in the restrooms. According to Valentine, the performers would also supply soap and towels and would "recite (a) favorite poem, or tell ... a story" while concert-goers "used the facilities."

The Giza Zoo (the largest in Cairo, Egypt) is a broken-down version of its former greatness due to poor management, failed international inspections, animal sickness and attrition, and a deteriorating neighborhood, and among the problems now, according to a February Global Post dispatch, is that employees supplement their tiny wages with $2 bribes from visitors who want to fraternize with the animals. "(P)osing with elephants" and "feeding seals" are big attractions, but so are visitors' roaming the cages, "holding lion cubs" and "hugging bears."

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