Government in Action 

After 50 years' separation following their adoptions by separate families, identical twins Rosabelle Glasby of Australia and Dorothy Loader of Malaysia were reunited in September 2008 after a years-long search by Glasby, and she applied to bring Loader to Australia under the country's family migration policy. However, in January, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship ruled that, under the law, Loader is not related to Glasby (in that the adoption wipes out birth status).

Change We Can Believe In: In December, the city council in Brighton, Mich., passed an ordinance making it illegal for anyone to be "annoying" in public, "by word of mouth, sign or motions." Violators can be ticketed and fined.

States That Need Better Training in Arithmetic: Two Maryland officials (reportedly new on the job) made a simple error in addition in 2007 (in estimating counties' property values) that was revealed in January 2009 to have cost state offices $31 million in overpayments, according to a Washington Post report.

In October, the Dallas school district was forced to lay off 375 teachers to ameliorate an $84 million deficit caused by a massive math error in the budget, according to a report by WFAA-TV.

Earlier, He Could've Gotten a Mortgage, Too: In a December test of the laxness of New York City's property-ownership office, a New York Daily News reporter walked out of the city's register of deeds with title to the $2 billion Empire State Building. His fake purchase document, with a fake notary public stamp and a fake "witness" signature (of "Fay Wray," star of the original "King Kong"), took 90 minutes to convert to an official deed, which of course came as a great surprise to Empire State Land Associates, to whose shocked representative the reporter "returned" the property the next day.

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