Brickbats

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It took little Carmin Fisher of Junction City, Oregon, six years of saving her pennies to accumulate a $70.76 bank account. It took the IRS just minutes to seize the nine-year-old's lifetime savings to pay her grandfather's back taxes. The account was in the girl's name but listed her grandmother as guardian. When a bank statement showed the funds had been withdrawn under an IRS order, Grandma and Grandpa drove to the nearest newspaper office to express their outrage. Within hours after the paper hit the street, a sheepish IRS admitted its goof and refunded the money to the child.

The power of rock 'n' roll: Thousands of young East Germans trying to hear an outdoor rock concert by the Eurythmics just on the other side of the Berlin Wall fought with hundreds of club wielding border police. Chanting "Down with the Wall!" and "The Wall Must Go!," the rock fans broke through a fence but were driven back by police.

A Victorville, California, high school sophomore who refused to dissect a frog in her biology class will flunk her lab section. Jennifer Graham had pleaded with school officials to allow her to use a plastic model or computer simulations to study frog anatomy, citing moral objections to killing animals. But Principal Julian Weaver says Jennifer isn't required to take the class and thus should fail any portion she refuses to participate in. Jennifer was offered a transfer to a biology class that doesn't require laboratory participation, but she refused. Naturally, she's going to sue the school district.

Aw, c'mon, Senator! The sponsor of a controversial restriction on lamb imports in the pending trade bill owns stock in a family ranch that has more than 6,000 sheep. Sen. Max Baucus (D–Mont.) derives income from the ranch, but he did not mention it to the Finance Committee when his lamb amendment was adopted. "I just don't see it as a conflict whatsoever," Baucus says. "I've never been involved in the ranch. My folks keep it because it's a way of life for them." He acknowledged, however, that there was an "appearance" problem. Wool pulling, anyone?

Insurance companies in Japan are selling protection from traffic-law enforcers. For a fee of about $14 and a yearly premium of $42, motorists can ignore no-parking signs, treat speed limits with disdain, and refuse to give way to oncoming traffic without fear of prosecution. The insurance companies cover the cost of tickets. "It's not illegal but it's certainly antisocial, and we're very annoyed about it," huffed and puffed Traffic Police Chief Yasuo Tanabe.

The town of Flora, Illinois, is so desperate to have the state government build a prison in the impoverished burg that it has cut a promotional video, sung to a rap tune called "Is We Is?!" Made for $850 at a local TV station, the video features the Barbed Wire Choir, made up of civic leaders. The chorus goes: "Is we is or is we isn't, going to get ourselves a prison!" Wait—it gets worse. An "Is You Is" Day featured a parade led by a school band dressed in convict stripes and performing a medley of prison hits, including "Jailhouse Rock."

Soviet party boss Mikhail Gorbachev wants to introduce incentives to spur workers to produce more and revive the nation's stagnant economy. But some workers aren't so sure. Tanya, a 35-year-old single mother, cuts and weighs meat in a canning plant. She's grateful for a freedom Soviet society provides in abundance: the freedom to loaf. "I don't want to work like an American," she says. "The Soviet Union is a good place because if you don't want to work hard, you don't have to."

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