Federal District Judge Charles L. Brieant wouldn't tolerate any whining by New York State grape growers. He struck down as unconstitutional a law allowing grocery stores to sell a diluted wine drink only if the drink is made from New York grapes. "This is plain and simple economic protectionism…at the expense of out-of-state grapes, and a violation of the commerce clause" of the US Constitution, the judge said. Gov. Mario Cuomo says the state will appeal because the New York wine industry is in trouble. Sour grapes?
Is everything up to date in Kansas City? Well, as part of its tax-enforcement program, the county sheriff tried to serve a summons on Siegfried St. Bernard for $7,300 in back taxes. The only problem is that Siegfried was a real St. Bernard—of the dog variety. The animal died in 1978. Somehow, county tax records indicated that a Siegfried St. Bernard had been on the tax rolls since 1980 but had never paid any tax. Officials couldn't explain how a dead dog got on the tax rolls.
"The check is in the mail." One of the three big lies, right? Well, it really happened. One of Uncle Snail's Postal Service branch offices in Dallas has been evicted from the building it's used since 1956—because the rent check got caught in the Christmas rush. The landlord was unsympathetic and won a court order evicting the post office from his building. Poetic justice.
What some people will do to avoid taxes! Two shrewd Norwegians cut their brand-new BMW in half to slash about $6,600 in customs duty by importing the luxury car as junk. They bought the car in West Germany. The two men reportedly plan to weld the front half to the back part of an identical car already in Norway, and vice versa. Great idea, but will it run?
What's in a name? Maybe your life. Security forces are reported to have killed as many as 100 ethnic Turks during roundups to force them to adopt Bulgarian names. Villagers in the ethnic Turk region were presented with forms already filled out with names, often bearing no resemblance to their real names, and were told to sign. As protests mounted, troops were called in, things got a little ugly, and the troops opened fire. Although ethnic Turks represent 9 percent of Bulgaria's population, only one Turk is on the 192-member Central Committee. He adopted a Bulgarian name a long time ago.
The chickens coming home to roost? The Atlanta office of the US Commission on Civil Rights willfully discriminated against a female employee by paying her less than two male coworkers with nearly identical jobs, a judge has ruled. The commission was found guilty of violating the Federal Equal Pay Act and ordered to pay the woman, Miriam Nalebuff Grayboff, double the difference in back pay owed her for the last 15 months she worked at the agency, or approximately $26,000. Mrs. Grayboff was an equal-opportunity specialist who worked closely with public officials, news organizations, and citizen's advisory committees set up by the commission in southern states to monitor civil-rights concerns.
Just because he repeatedly threatened a four-year-old boy with handcuffs, jail, and punishment from God if he did not tell the truth doesn't make Louis Grossman a bad guy. That's the opinion of a New York State commission on judicial conduct that censured the acting state supreme court justice for his actions during a divorce proceeding. A censure means that Grossman gets to keep his job and the $65,000 he makes every year. Grossman took the child into his chambers and grilled him for four hours after the youngster said someone had told him his father could "fix" the judge. "Do you know what happens to boys that lie?" the judge asked the frightened child. "They go to jail, and they're not going to come out." But 5 of the 11 judicial commission members thought that censure was too harsh a penalty for the threatening judge.
The right to wear a cowboy hat is constitutionally protected, says a federal suit filed by a Colorado state prison inmate. Paul Luna Vasquez, 29, serving 25 to 40 years for manslaughter and other charges, says the state violated his rights by confiscating his hat.