Brickbats

Federal marshals armed with .38-caliber revolvers stormed into a little candy factory in St. Louis and seized and destroyed 19 pounds of chocolate. And it wasn't even laced with cyanide. No sir, this candy was really dangerous-it contained Grand Marnier liqueur. It's against federal law to transport across state lines for sale bonbons that contain more than 0.5 percent of alcohol. The goons from the Food and Drug Administration acted under a 1938 law pushed by die-hard prohibitionists fearful that candy-loving toddlers would enslave themselves to Demon Rum. The saddest part of this story is that the FDA admits it couldn't enforce this foolish law if not for candy makers snitching on each other. "Once we slap somebody's fingers, they become real tattletales," said FDA official Raymond E. Newberry.

Turnabout is fair play? A gunman entered a Florida prison dormitory and robbed an inmate serving an armed-robbery sentence of a stereo, radio, TV set, and $30 in cash. "The whole inmate population is still in shock," said the superintendent of the minimum-security Pompano Beach Community Correctional Center. "If you're not safe in prison from armed robbery, where are you safe?" The center, which provides a work-release program to its 140 guests, has no bars, no barbed wire, and no armed guards. The suspect is a convicted robber and former inmate at the center who failed to return from work on the outside. He didn't return to stay, that is.

New York Gov. Mario Cuomo has been toiling in the vineyards for too long without a hat. Sales of New York State wines are down because of heavy competition from inexpensive California and European brands. So Cuomo thinks New York grocery stores should be prohibited from selling anything but New York wines. Sounds like sour grapes to us.

Don't ever cross a Minnesota social worker. These public servants managed to have a couple involuntarily committed to separate detoxification centers on the say-so of the couple's 15-year-old daughter, who told the social workers that her parents were alcoholics. So without bothering to verify the teenager's statements, the social workers obtained commitment papers and, armed with sheriff's officers, arrested the couple at their home. The sweet young daughter later confessed that she wanted to be placed in a foster home so she would be able to "get away with a lot more stuff," such as staying out late at night. There is a happy side to the story. The couple was awarded $250,000 in compensatory and $12,000 in punitive damages. The social workers? They were reprimanded but continue to serve mankind.

Once reviled as exploitation, maid service is making a comeback in Peking as living standards rise. Peking's first contract maid service in the new era has found jobs for 145 women in two months. That fact was reported by the newspaper Economic Daily. Of course, the paper had to waffle the details a little, since unemployment officially doesn't exist in the People's Republic.

You might say that Rene Cote, 26, of Concord, New Hampshire, wound up on the wrong end of the law. He ran out of a courtroom after a judge sentenced him to a jail term for receiving stolen property. Hillsboro County Sheriff's officers dutifully shot Cote in the buttocks, slowing down his escape somewhat. But that's not the end of it. Cote has now filed a $750,000 suit against the county, claiming anguish, humiliation, and a very tender bottom. He won't take this sitting down.

The oldest female inmate in Georgia is great-grandmother Maybel Cawthorn. The 82-year-old felon got probation the first time she was caught selling marijuana but was sentenced to three years in prison for doing it again. She sold the staggering amount of $25 worth (less than one ounce) of the weed to an undercover Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent.

It was bound to happen one day. A Harvard-and Princeton-educated architect has invented the vandal-proof toilet for New York City's parks. No electricity, no heat, no hot water, no doors-your basic no-frills john. Everything is made of stainless steel. "There is nothing in it to be vandalized," says the proud inventor. Oh, by the way, bring your own toilet paper. Officials say holders for toilet paper won't be installed either, because they're too easily vandalized. How do you spell relief?

Important Facts Department: David A. Kurtz of Pennsylvania State University told a press conference during the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society that naked gardeners typically pick up 16 times more pesticide on the body than gardeners wearing a shirt, pants, and shoes.

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