Brickbats

Protests by citizens near government buildings show that democracy in Vietnam has become "excessive," the head of the ruling Communist Party says. Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh explains that citizens with complaints should confine themselves to filing grievances with local government agencies. "The fact that people gather with placards is abnormal," Manh says. "Other countries would not allow that. Our democracy is in many cases excessive."

Vice Principal Rita Wilson wanted to make sure that girls were dressed appropriately at a dance held by the Rancho Bernardo High School in suburban San Diego. Specifically, she wanted to make sure they were wearing bras and were not wearing thong underwear. So Wilson made them pull up their skirts and show her their skivvies at the front door -- in front of male students, teachers, and police officers. Wilson has been placed on leave.

Frankie Colley, 11, recently spent 15 minutes locked in a freezer at his Toledo, Michigan, elementary school after he denied throwing food in the lunchroom. He escaped only when another student let him out at the end of the lunch period. Two cafeteria workers have been suspended.

Deseret News reporter Jerry Spangler could get up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. His crime? Writing an article about a diesel spill without reporting the spill to local authorities. The accident occurred after a supplier pumped fuel into an already full tank in the building that houses the newspaper. Spangler interviewed a state environmental quality official and talked to the building's managers. But to local officials, whom Spangler never called, that apparently doesn't count as "reporting."

Sonny Bad'aan must tear down his dream house. It cost him $500,000 Canadian to build, but according to a judge it sits too close to the National Capital Commission's Ottawa River Parkway. The house is only 4.8 meters from the NCC fence, not the required nine meters.

Harold Wilson is the Canadian government's federal ethics counselor. He's supposed to enforce the nation's conflict-of-interest laws, which are meant to keep the prime minister and his cabinet in line. But some charge that he is acting more as Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's adviser than as his watchdog. Wilson has stepped forth to defend Chrétien on several occasions and recently was forced to admit that he helps draft Chrétien's answers to questions from the legislature about perceived ethical lapses.

Two police officers from Raleigh, North Carolina, traveled to Wilson, North Carolina, to conduct a class on submachine gun handling. But when they arrived, they found that their bags -- containing a handgun, a machine gun, and several clips of ammo -- had fallen out of the back of their pickup. Motorists found the guns along the highway and handed them over to authorities. Presumably, the next time the police conduct a course on machine guns, they'll have a section on proper transport and storage.

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