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Laws and Customs Trivia

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Congress passed a law prohibiting American vessels from supplying slaves to other countries on March 22, 1794.

Congress prohibited dueling in the District of Columbia on February 20, 1839.

Connecticut and Rhode Island never ratified the Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition.

Contrary to many reports, the Eisenhower Interstate System does NOT require that one mile in every five must be straight in the United States. The claim that these straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies does not exist in any federal legislation. Korea and Sweden DO use some of their roads as military air strips.

Courts of law in the United States devote about half their time to cases involving automobiles.

Dancing to the "Star-Spangled Banner" is against the law in several American states.

Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.

In December 1997, the state of Nevada became the first state to pass legislation categorizing Y2K data disasters as "acts of God" protecting the state from lawsuits that may potentially be brought against it by residents in the year 2000.

In December 1998, The Orlando Sentinel reported that undercover law enforcement agents in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, cited the Champion House Restaurant for serving them a bowl of bear paw soup, thereby violating protected-species laws. For this crime, the restaurant was fined $2,600 and its owner's son was fined $650.

In December 2000, China's legislature passed a law against online subversion, ratifying the government's escalating efforts to extend its political controls into cyberspace. Several months earlier, the first dissident Web site in China was shut down and police hunted for its organizers, a human rights group and the firm that hosted the site, called the New Culture Forum.

In Egypt, social engagements usually begin later than they do in the United States. Dinner may not be served until 10:30 p.m. or later. When invited to dine, it is customary to take a gift of flowers or chocolates. Giving and receiving gifts should be done with both hands or the right hand never with the left.

In England in 1571, a man could be fined for not wearing a wool cap.

In England, a Witchcraft Act of the early 1700s identified black cats as dangerous animals to be shunned.

In England, murder is murder. There are no degrees of murder, as in the United States.

In Florida, women may be fined for falling asleep under a hair dryer, as can the salon owner.

In France and Belgium, snapping the fingers of both hands has a vulgar meaning.

In France, Napoleon instituted a scale of fines for sex offenses which included 35 francs for a man guilty of lifting a woman's skirt to the knee and 70 francs if he lifted it to the thigh.

During the 18th century, books that were considered offensive were sometimes punished by being whipped.

During the reign of Catherine I of Russia, the rules for parties stipulated that no man was to get drunk before 9 o'clock and ladies weren't to get drunk at any hour.

During the Renaissance period, laws were passed that prescribed which fashions could not be worn by the lower classes, so as to keep social distinctions intact. Queen Elizabeth of England would not allow the ruff to be worn by commoners; in Florence, women of the lower class were not allowed to use buttons of certain shapes and materials.

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