A sign of the times? The Girl Scout Council of Beaver, Penna., has brought charges against the parents of 14 Girl Scouts. What did Mom and Dad do to warrant this? The Girl Scouts say they failed to turn over more than $1,100 for cookies their little girls sold. The money represents 733 boxes of those scrumptious cookies at $1.50 a box. The girls sell the cookies, while Mom and Dad "borrow" from the proceeds, the Girl Scouts say. Is nothing sacred?
Don't forget to take off your hat when you enter Texas State District Judge Michael McSpadden's courtroom. He recently jailed a second defendant for not addressing him as "sir." You might say the judge takes his work a little too sir-iously.
A former New York City welfare official says his bosses ignored findings that Medicaid cards were being mailed to 14,000 people who were dead or missing. Herbert Rosenblum says the city disbanded his unit and demoted him last year after he alerted them to the error, which was costing taxpayers $2 million a year. He also charged that the city refused to act on other findings that Medicaid bills were being paid for about 1,600 people who had moved out of town and were therefore not entitled to benefits. City officials say that Rosenblum, a 23-year veteran with the welfare department, was demoted because his work was unsatisfactory. Is that because he kept his mouth shut for the first 22 years?
From the Irony Dept.: the only car in the antivandalism patrol of Rome, New York, was vandalized. The front window was shattered two hours after Rome police left it in the city garage. It was in the same garage where more than 30 parking meters were stolen last summer. Not to worry, though. Rome wasn't sacked in a day, either.
Indonesia's government has donated 25 sewing machines to former prostitutes to help them earn an "honest" living. The exprostitutes have received vocational training from the government. The donation of sewing machines reportedly has the hookers in stitches.
Kathleen Morikawa, an American teacher of English who is married to a Japanese university lecturer, faces up to a year in jail and an $800 fine if she's convicted in a Japanese court. Her crime? She refuses to press her left index finger on an ink pad. The law requires foreigners living in Japan to report to the authorities and submit to fingerprinting every few years. Morikawa went along with the imposition for a few years, but then she got tired of being treated like a criminal. The only Japanese forced to do the same are those accused of crimes. "In fact, unless a warrant for their arrest is issued, Japanese criminal suspects don't have to be fingerprinted. They must give their permission first," she says. Japanese officials are embarrassed by the case but show no signs of giving in. The "us versus them" mentality is strong. "This is a matter of national sovereignty. In order to control aliens, we need some identification system," says a spokesman for the Justice Ministry.
"You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs." A British Broadcasting Corp. camera operator took the investigative reporter's credo a bit too seriously. The photographer was sent to film a nest of bird's eggs near a high-speed railroad track, blundered into the subject of his documentary, and scrambled it. All week long, express trains had been hurtling by at 75 mph, with nary a scratch on the eggs. Then along came the BBC's John Reay with his camera. Walking up to the tracks, he heard a crunching sound. And there was the nest-squashed under his feet. Filming wildlife can be exhilarating—but not for the wildlife.
New Jersey's county prosecutors have it made. The source of their "good fortune" is an obscure turn-of-the-century law that allows law-enforcement officials to impound any car, airplane, boat, or building used to facilitate a crime. Bergen County Prosecutor Larry McClure drives a Datsun 280ZX seized from a drug suspect, and Hudson County Prosecutor Harold Ruvoldt tools around in a 1983 Cadillac that was the alleged getaway car in a double murder. The seizures can take place at the time of the arrest. Property is returned to acquitted defendants, but they are not reimbursed for mileage or damage. The seized vehicles and homes are often used as bargaining chips to induce defendants to plead guilty in exchange for return of their goods. Asked if he felt guilty about driving the Datsun 280ZX—worth about $10,000 on the retail market—Prosecutor McClure said, "There's got to be some benefit to being in charge."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".