Brickbats

Assault feet, Gingerbread Persons...

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? "They are designed to kill as many people as possible." Assault weapons? No, hands and feet. New York Gov. Mario Cuomo has joined the fight against semi-automatic guns, but state crime figures show that his energy is being misdirected. In 1992, the latest year for which detailed figures are available, semiautomatic, large-capacity rifles killed 20 people in New York state. That's 0.8 percent of the state's 2,394 murders. But hands and feet–beating and stomping–accounted for 117 murders. That's nearly six times the number caused by assault weapons.

? Meanwhile, officials in neighboring Connecticut have called off a guns-for-goods swap program. The problem is profiteering. People were buying cheap handguns and immediately turning them over to police for more-valuable gift coupons. One man turned in 39 rifles worth $70 each and received a certificate worth $100 for each. That's a profit of almost $1,200.

? Reeling from budget cuts, the U.S. Army recently signed a 100-year lease for a luxury hotel at Disney World.

? The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that a police officer violated the rights of a man suspected of drunken driving by asking him to recite the alphabet from C to W. The court ruled that by requesting the partial alphabet, rather than the whole one, the officer was trying to trip the man up–in effect asking him to be a witness against himself and violating the guarantee against self-incrimination. Asking for the whole alphabet is OK, said the court, because that's simply a request for information.

? Not even the Russian government can get away with not paying its electric bills. In separate incidents, state-owned power companies cut off power to the headquarters of the Baltic Fleet and to one of the country's main aviation-control centers for delinquent payments. The military base relied upon its reserve generators until it cleared the matter up, but several jets were left floundering in the air while the aviation center paid its bill.

? Keith Wright, a member of the Australian Parliament, will likely be putting his long battle against pornography on hold. Wright has been sentenced to eight years in prison for raping a teenage girl. He faces additional charges of sexually abusing two other young girls.

? In Great Britain, Prime Minister John Major's government has called for a halt to the construction of suburban shopping malls. The reason: Customers like the things too darn much. In presenting its plans to curb the development of malls, the government said that the malls must be stopped because they are draining customers away from the small shops in the cities.

? Meanwhile, British prosecutors are trying to block the opening of the new play Maxwell: The Musical. The play is the story of press baron and corporate looter Robert Maxwell. The prosecutors contend that the play might prejudice the cases they are bringing against Maxwell's sons and business associates, Kevin and Ian.

? Eighteen million people rode the Staten Island ferries last year. And possibly just as many cockroaches did too. The New York City Department of Transportation has been waging war against the little critters–that's the roaches, not the passengers–but the roaches seem to be winning. Officials have been spraying the boats once a week and bombing them once a month, but they're still crawling with bugs.

? In Iowa, a postal carrier was asked to resign after he refused to deliver copies of Time and Newsweek. The mail carrier said that "as a follower of Jesus Christ" he could not deliver the magazines. One featured a cover story on lesbians; the other, a cover story on prostitution.

? Finally, the forces of P.C. have struck again. Great Britain's Gateway supermarket chain has decided to emasculate the Gingerbread Man. Now, the stores will carry only politically correct Gingerbread Persons.

NEXT: Suckers!

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