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The Continuing Crisis

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In December, the city of Bangalore, India, staged its fifth annual marathon, with an elite group of runners that officials thought would bring the city recognition in the world racing community, but problems occurred, the least of which were the city's ubiquitous potholes and pollution. At about the 20 km mark, the leaders were chased down the street by barking dogs snapping at their heels. Twice during the race, runners were forced to stop and take breaks because impatient motorists were disregarding traffic controls to reclaim their roads.

Egypt's competitive spirit, combined with a recent surge in piety as some in the Middle East strengthen their commitment to Islam, have led many men to suddenly sport dark calluses on their foreheads ("raisins") as a signal of perhaps-overenthusiastic daily praying. The five prayers require, in all, 34 contacts with the ground (of forehead and nose), and additional personal prayers add to the total, according to a December New York Times dispatch from Cairo. Rumors persist that some men use sandpaper to darken the calluses to appear even more pious.

Noxious Substances: State and federal authorities descended on Quality Pork Processors of Austin, Minn., in December after 11 workers contracted a mysterious neurological illness, which apparently came from inhaling the mist that results from blowing hogs' brains out with compressed air.

New York City apartment house doorman Jonah Seeman was suspended in December after excessive complaints about his bad breath. His job, said a resident, is opening the door, "not ... his mouth."

Maurice Fox, 77, said in December he would comply with the wishes of the Kirkham Street Sports and Social Club of Paignton, England, to sit only by the front door so he could excuse himself when he needed to pass gas, which management said had become a problem.

A neighborhood yard sale in Cocoa, Fla., in December offering children's furniture and toys took place at a home at which two registered sex offenders reside with their mother (though it was unclear where the items came from). A probation officer checked periodically to see that the men did not venture outside, where some unsuspecting adults, and their children, browsed the inventory.

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