Short takes on some strange news

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Here are a couple of unusual items that popped up on our news wire in recent weeks.

Hotel rooms for Chicago’s homeless.

With temperatures in Chicago plummeting past 20 below zero last week, advocates for the homeless began scrambling to ensure everyone received proper indoor shelter. At one encampment, people living in tents were using 150 to 200 portable propane tanks that had been donated for heat. It wasn’t the safest idea.

One of the tanks exploded, prompting authorities to evacuate the entire camp. But that meant an estimated 70 homeless people had nowhere to go. According to CNN, the Salvation Army made preparations to receive the encampment occupants at one of that organization’s shelters, but they never arrived.

It turns out that an anonymous good Samaritan arranged for the group to stay for free in a local hotel -- safe, warm and no longer exposed to the elements. In the meantime, a Salvation Army official issued an appeal to do-gooders everywhere: Please do not donate propane tanks to the homeless.

Court-ordered evaluations

A Republican lawmaker from St. Charles, Missouri, has different ideas about how to treat convicted animal abusers. State Rep. Chrissy Sommer introduced legislation to give judges the option of ordering first-time offenders to undergo a psychiatric or psychological evaluation and other treatment.

Judges would be required to order evaluations if the crime “involved torture or mutilation” of an animal or if the person committing the crime had any prior animal abuse convictions.

There is a demonstrated link between animal cruelty and crimes against humans. So it could make sense to try to rehabilitate young and chronic offenders to lower recidivism and prevent even worse acts. Sommer wants offenders or their families to foot the bill for the care, which could be problematic for those who can’t afford it. Some tweaking of the bill might be in order. 

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