A Kentucky legislator says bears are making some residents prisoners in their own homes and wants to allow folks to shoot bears dead without nagging questions about self-defense.  His proposed bill would permit anyone to shoot a bear that comes within 30 yards of his or her property.

Current law allows Kentuckians to shoot bears to protect themselves from serious injury, but state wildlife authorities can prosecute if they decide the shooting was unjustified, and bears are not considered dangerous at present simply because they wander into human space.

But Rep. Rick Nelson, a Middlesboro Democrat, says he’s been getting calls  from constituents afraid to walk from their homes to their cars because of bears ransacking garbage cans or eating from bird feeders and pet food bowls.

Nonetheless, thank you for shopping at Walmart: Christmas retail sales were up, and apparently so were customer tempers.  In Palm Bay, Florida, someone punched one of Walmart’s elderly greeters.  But that was nothing compared to the smackdown that occurred at a Walmart in Chattanooga, Tennessee,  when off-duty police officer Josh Wright stopped a suspected shoplifter carting out two large TVs.  The man pushed past him and started to run before Wright tackled him.  Then, the suspect’s wife fell to the floor claiming she was having a heart attack.  Then, the wife got into a shoving match with a customer.  That clash rolled into the parking lot, with hair-pulling and fisticuffs before the enraged customer pulled out a pocketknife and stabbed the shoplifting suspect’s wife, who apparently was not really suffering a heart attack.

Handicapping handicap parking violators: Ever borrow grandma’s handicapped parking permit so you can get a better space at the mall?  That will be a lot harder to get away with in South Carolina starting Friday.  That’s when the state Department of Motor Vehicles begins adding user photos to the placards issued to disabled motorists.

Looking for New Year’s Eve reservations? Sky 309, a rooftop bar in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida, is auctioning off 10 of its booths to the highest bidder on eBay  The minimum bid for each is $100, which includes a bottle of champagne and entry for six people.  One of the tables has already gone for $250.

Tea Partying on: Is the Tea Party movement becoming a serious third-party effort? The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Tea Party groups have formed in the North Georgia counties of Catoosa, Gilmer and Walker, and new ones are forming in Dade and Whitfield counties. In Broward County, Florida, Tea Partiers have held weekly protests for at least 40 Saturdays.  In Palm Beach County, Tea Party organizers are conducting voter registration drives, looking for an office and seeking volunteers who speak Hebrew, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Dew Droplets: Beaufort County, South Carolina,  planners are considering rules that would phase out combustion-powered vehicles on Daufuskie Island by 2012 … Pigs on two North Carolina farms tested positive for H1N1 flu, which they apparently got from humans … A Miami company is training dogs to sniff out Chinese drywall … Child AbuseWatch is lobbying the National Football League to drop Pete Townshend from The Who’s scheduled halftime show at the Feb. 7  Super Bowl in Miami;  Townshend was cleared of possessing kiddie porn but still is on a national register of sex offenders in England.

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Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor was born and raised in Georgia and worked more than 40 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and editor and as an online producer for ajc.com and AccessAtlanta. He served for a time as the newspaper's regional editor, overseeing coverage of the South. He is co-author, with Dr. Leonard Ray Teel, of Into the Newsroom:  An Introduction to Journalism and has conducted workshops in the Middle East on feature writing.