Brickbats

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From the Poetic Justice Department: Howard Daniels, a 24-year-old Bronx, N.Y., gunman, shot himself in the groin during a struggle with his intended rape victim.

Martha Jean Steinberg may have the solution to the nation's crime problem: prayer—with a vengeance. The Detroit gospel radio hostess didn't exactly turn the other cheek when some nonbeliever stole her brand-new car. Instead, she took to the airways and threatened to call down the wrath of the Lord against the car thief and anyone who witnessed the crime but didn't call the police immediately. When Miss Steinberg returned to her Home of Love Church, she found the car parked in its usual place—with the gas tank filled.

When the alcoholic beverage industry was offered a gift of almost total deregulation by the Reagan administration, the nation's distillers, brewers, and vintners turned the color of Ripple. These captains of the grain and grape spoke right up and said they do not wish to be freed. Instead, they'd like the federal government to set basic standards and preempt the 50 states' passing their own laws. Deregulation would save the government about $12 million a year, but the brewers say they want the government to tell them what they can put in their bottles and on their labels. Richard B. Thornburg, spokesman for the National Beer Wholesalers Association, said, "The industry has grown up with regulation and feels very confident with it." It's almost enough to make one a teetotaler.

Tarzan, everyone's favorite king of the jungle, got tangled in the vines of Yugoslavian censorship. Why? Old movies of the counterrevolutionary in loincloth have so corrupted the minds of socialist youth that they're jumping out of trees and aping the blood-chilling cry of Johnny Weismuller. Belgrade newspaper Politika quoted a leading orthopedist as saying the number of broken limbs and other injuries was up 15 percent during the month the movies were shown on television. Kojak may be next on the censor's hit list: the state lollipop collective couldn't handle it.

Canadian bureaucrats are no slouches when it comes to proposing idiotic regulations. The Canadian Transport Commission thinks that airlines should be obliged to provide a special seat at no extra charge to accommodate an obese passenger and a free seat to an escort of a handicapped passenger. There's been no word yet on exactly how the airlines are supposed to determine how fat a person must be to qualify for the benefit, but they're working on it-probably over lunch.

Being a federal government deadbeat hasn't stopped one young bureaucrat in the Department of Education from securing other forms of credit. Senate investigators say the unidentified wastrel has steadfastly refused to pay a dime on a $40,000 graduate school loan he received from the government. This creative financier is one of 36,000 federal employees who've been able to avoid paying their debts because up until now, a federal law protected their paychecks from garnishment. A new law has been passed, but it remains to be seen how many employees will now pay up. Oh, our friend in the Education Department: He had no problem getting an $18,000 commercial loan to buy a Porsche. Now when he takes Uncle Sam for a ride, he'll be able to do it in style.

Diplomatic immunity means never having to say you're sorry. Nam Chol Oh, third secretary at the North Korean mission to the United Nations, is free as a bird, and there's nothing the cops can do. He is accused of sexually abusing a Bronx, N.Y., woman at a park while several members of the mission staff were picnicking nearby. The woman was grabbed from behind, thrown to the ground, and beaten as the diplomat attempted to rape her. She made a positive identification, but the State Department stopped police from arresting the vermin. We certainly wouldn't want to offend the North Koreans, with whom we haven't had formal relations since the 1950s.

Why can't you find a cop on a New York subway? Because they're too busy handing out summonses to owners of clean, safe, and efficient vans that compete with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The MTA is afraid it will lose $50 million this year from riders who prefer the vans to the city's subways and buses. City bus drivers who fear losing overtime as business sags have on occasion forced vans off the road. Plainclothes cops from the city's crack anticrime squad have taken more than an hour to write up summonses—usually at rush hour. Most of the tickets have been thrown out of court, but the cops are under orders from Mayor Koch to keep writing them up. Now that's protection for the subways.

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