Southern oddities and entities:

The “Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay” has been on the lam for more than a year and has almost 65,000 friends on Facebook. According to the St. Petersburg Times, that’s more Facebook friends than Florida U.S. Senate candidates Marco Rubio (37,000) and Gov. Charlie Crist  (10,000) have  combined. Latest status update on behalf of what Stephen Colbert has called the “junkie monkey:” “Enjoyed another beautiful day of freedom. Lounging in the trees feeling the warmth of the sun and coolness of my banana daiquiri. Well it’s time for some late night monkey mayhem.. gotta go, zoom-zoom…”

About the only people not laughing are Florida wildlife agents.  They say the public is ignoring the risk from the monkey of infectious diseases like herpes or hepatitis B, attacks on native animals and the possibility that the runaway rhesus macaque could end up dead on the side of the interstate.

Evidently there’s also danger from Junkie Monkey’s fans.  Wildlife trapper Vernon Yates told the Times that he recently got a call from someone threatening to kill him if he hurt the monkey.

  • Fighting for your gas guzzler: Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s authorization of  new rules on fuel efficiency for cars and trucks for the 2012-16 model years. contending the new standards are “a tacit denial” of his office’s previously filed lawsuit arguing that climate-change research is “unreliable, unverifiable and doctored”
  • Bingo! The Alabama Senate passed a revised bill that would allow voters to decide in November if they want to tax and regulate electronic bingo.  The bill now goes to the House.  Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that Gov. Bob Riley’s political action committee that is fighting private bingo casinos has received $10,000 from a lobbyist for Indians operating federally protected bingo casinos in the state. The Montgomery Advertiser reported the FBI is looking into possible corruption concerning electronic bingo legislation.
  • Was Porche behind this? Two bills to make Corvette the official sports car of Kentucky were bottled up in committee, and one of the sponsors, Rep. C.B. Embry Jr., a Morgantown Republican, said the inaction was a snub to General Motors, which builds Corvettes in Bowling Green.
  • Another sign of the times: A man wearing only a rubber mask streaked through an IGA supermarket in Kingsport, Tennessee.  Police found him hiding in a nearby Hardee’s bathroom.  He told police he was bored.
  • Finally, a prom: A private prom for Itawamba Agricultural High School juniors and seniors was scheduled for Friday at the Fulton Country Club.  American Civil Liberties Union attorney Christine Sun said Constance McMillen, whose desire to bring a same-sex date led the school board to cancel the official prom, plans to attend.  School board attorney Michele Floyd said McMillen, a senior, will be allowed to attend with the date of her choice.
  • Keeping up the mad on health care reform: Republican candidates for Congress and Senate in Arkansas are suggesting voters protest the federal health care overhaul by refusing to buy health insurance as mandated under the law.  Meanwhile, the Alabama Senate voted 23-8 for a bill declaring that no person, employer or health care provider could be compelled to participate in any health care system.
  • Keeping up the mad on abortion: Abortion opponents in Mississippi have collected enough signatures to put a proposal on next year’s ballot banning abortions. Voters will be asked to vote whether unborn fetuses should be given human rights in the state’s constitution.
  • Here kitty: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, trying to eliminate what it considers a threat to wildlife, has begun removing feral cats from Lake Lanier’s West Bank Park in Forsyth County, Georgia.
  • Almost Southern: Police in Punxsutawney, Pennsulvania, charged a man with public drunkenness after he was seen trying to resuscitate a long-dead possum lying in a highway.  Maybe he thought it was Puxsutawney Phil.

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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 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.