Just in time for Christmas, the U.S. Treasury Department has issued a commemorative gold token honoring the 80th anniversary of the income tax. Don't laugh. It's the perfect gift for all the Democrats in your family.
In Nevada, state Sen. Joe Neal is concerned about the low minority enrollment at the University of Nevada Medical School. For this year's freshman class, the medical school accepted two of eight black applicants and three of 12 Hispanic applicants. Neal doesn't see why all of the minorities couldn't have been admitted. After all, he says, no one applies for medical school unless they're qualified.
In Houston, a teenager active in the anti-abortion movement has confessed to setting fire to a local abortion clinic. He was the number-one suspect because he had been spotted outside that clinic as well as several others that had been torched. Also, he left his wallet on the roof of the clinic.
In San Francisco, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration has hit the agency responsible for enforcing the city building safety code with 32 separate citations for health and safety hazards. Cal-OSHA found electrical violations, blocked aisles, and missing fire extinguishers in the headquarters of the Bureau of Building Inspection. The bureau has been cited several times by Cal-OSHA and the city fire department. Maybe the bureau is operating under the it-takes-a-thief-to-catch-a-thief policy.
In Great Britain, a Dorset farmer has renamed a pig after receiving complaints from government race-equality officers. The officials told Chris Fookes that naming his 500-pound sow "Oprah" was racist.
The University of Alabama, Birmingham, has removed its mascot—a Viking—because minority groups claimed that a white man could not symbolize the racially diverse school. Officials are now trying to come up with an inoffensive mascot. Meanwhile, minorities at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, are making the same argument about that school's Minuteman mascot. I have a suggestion for authorities at both these schools. How about an Indian?
School nutritionists (lunch ladies to you students) are outraged that some stores are selling T-shirts that read "School Food. It's lethal. Eat it before it eats you." They are demanding that the stores remove the shirts. Donna Wittrock, director of the Denver public schools' food services, says that she has done extensive research and found absolutely no proof that school food has killed any student. Yeah, but what does it do to their sense of humor?
In Gainesville, Florida, the Yesterday & Today record store offered a 50-percent discount to anyone willing to take off his or her clothes. The store's management didn't expect many people to take them up on the offer (and few did), but they thought it was an eye-catching ad. Local police thought it was something else: solicitation to commit an illegal act. They threatened to book the owners if they didn't discontinue the ad.
And in France, a country that has reacted to the introduction of Ted Turner's Cartoon Channel as if it were the outbreak of a new venereal disease, Culture Minister Jacques Toubon wants legislation to ban the use of English. The proposed bill would force movie distributors to translate the titles of films into French; it would ban the use of English in advertisements, in store signs, in video games, and in public notices. It would also create a language police to ferret out those using English.
The New York City commissioner of consumer affairs reportedly has ordered an investigation of a mail-order lingerie catalog to determine whether they are using enough minority models. But if the catalog uses minority models, wouldn't it be guilty of perpetuating sexual stereotypes about women of color?
The computer disks containing President Clinton's health-care bill that the White House sent to news organizations around the country had a virus. The program, called Stoned III, put this message on the screen: "Your PC is stoned—LEGALIZE MARIJUANA."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".