Cities Crack Down On Feeding The Homeless

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The Skinny is Joel Roberts' take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.

Feeding the homeless. Now there's an uncontroversial topic you'd think everyone could agree on. Right?

Guess again.

According to USA Today, several cities around the country are cracking down on charities that provide meals to the poor.

Orlando, Las Vegas, Dallas and Wilmington, N.C., are among the municipalities that have adopted rules restricting food distribution to certain parts of town, forcing charities to get permits or limiting the number of free meals they can provide.

The restrictions have prompted challenges and protests. In Las Vegas, a federal judge blocked a law banning food giveaways in city parks. In Dallas, two ministries have sued the city, arguing that the limits are a violation of religious freedom.

City officials defend their actions, saying they were prompted by complaints about crime and food safety.

"A lot of the merchants said, 'We feel uncomfortable when you have all these homeless being fed downtown when we're trying to attract tourists,' " Dewey Harris, the director of Wilmington's Community Services Department, said.

Homeless advocates say the cities just want to make things tougher on the homeless so they'll go elsewhere.

"They think that by not feeding people, it will make the homeless people leave," Michael Stoops of the National Coalition for the Homeless said.

A Breakthrough In Northern Ireland

Perhaps it's a sign of the media's focus on other world hot spots, or the relative calm in the region in recent years, but an historic meeting Monday between rival leaders in Northern Ireland was nearly absent from this morning's front pages.

Only the New York Times among the major dailies ran a page one article on the first face-to-face talks between Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and his longtime foe Protestant leader Ian Paisley. The two announced a landmark power-sharing agreement for Northern Ireland at a joint press conference, but as the Times points out, the bitter enemies did not shake hands.

How did the other papers play the story? The Wall Street Journal featured an item on the meeting in its "What's News" box, while the the L.A. Times and Washington Post had teases for their stories on the front page, but the articles themselves appeared on A5 and A7, respectively.

USA Today ran its story on page 17A.

A Day At The Ballpark Gets Complicated

The Major League baseball season opens in a few days, but getting tickets for a day or night out at the ballpark isn't as simple as it used to be.

Where you used to just go to the box office and ask for a seat along the third base line, buying tickets for a game today is as complicated as booking an airplane flight. The Los Angeles Times reports there are "more options than voice mail" as seating charts have evolved into "color-coded mazes and teams charge an assortment of prices for the same seat."

The Los Angeles Dodgers, for example, sell tickets for 83 different prices, ranging from $20 to $100 a ticket. And with different prices depending on the day you purchased your ticket and whether it's part of a season ticket package, there's a good chance you'll be paying more than the fan sitting next to you.

"You almost feel like someone is going to open up their jacket pocket and say, 'I've got a price for you,' " said Dodgers fan Rich Sperber.

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