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Column: Grocery shopping with lizards in Utah

by Betsy Marston & High Country News
| July 9, 2009 12:00 AM

In Utah, the Beehive State really let its hair down recently, finally permitting people to drink liquor without having to join a gentlemen’s club first. Before that, the state Legislature approved a bill allowing people to go out in public with “emotional support animals.”

But after receiving complaints about flying squirrels and hamsters accompanying people to supermarkets and other public places, legislators are now trying to figure out where to draw the line.

“When a customer is walking through a food store with a lizard, that doesn’t give other customers the kind of assurances that they come to expect,” Jim Olsen of the Utah Food Industry told the Salt Lake Tribune.

MONTANA

But Bozeman, it seems, remains uptight. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that for three years, city officials have been vetting job applicants by looking them up on Facebook, websites, chat rooms, YouTube.com , MySpace – you name it.

This may be routine in Bozeman, although when the news got out, the Guardian, a London daily, named the city its “civil liberties villain of the week.”

But another Chronicle story calls that moniker into question: After some to-ing and fro-ing, Bozeman finally permitted two extremely diverse groups to march down its Main Street on the Fourth of July, although not at the same time.

One group is the Bozeman Tea Party, which protests any taxes and most government spending; the other is the Green Coalition of Gay Loggers for Jesus, whose name seems self-explanatory, although founder Brian Leland notes that he is neither gay nor a logger; his group is just “a ‘big tent’ organization.”

WASHINGTON

The good news is that the wasps have flown away; the bad news is that the thousands of nests they built on six acres of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in south-central Washington are “fairly highly contaminated with radioactive isotopes such as cesium and cobalt,” reports the Associated Press.

The mud daubers built the nests after workers finished covering some cleaned-up waste sites with fresh topsoil, native plants and straw – a perfect environment for the insects.

So once again, workers have to scrape the ground and haul off radioactive soil. The ongoing restoration of the entire site “is expected to last decades and cost $50 billion.”