? We are the police, and we're here to make you safe. Unless you live near a drug dealer. Police in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, raided an apartment where they suspected drugs and guns were hoarded. They threw a flash grenade into the apartment to distract the suspect. The grenade touched off a fire that left six officers injured and two dozen residents of the building homeless. But the police got their drug dealer.
? Washington, D.C., resident Valcencia Mohammed was out of work. She had been a school board member, but Congress abolished the D.C. school board earlier this year. Mohammed ran for city council last year, but failed. So she did what other Americans out of work do: filed for unemployment insurance. D.C. and Hawaii are the only parts of the United States that let politicians claim those benefits.
? Mile High Adventurers is an airline with a twist. The California firm is a charter service that allows people to, ah, fulfill their romantic fantasies in the air. It operates out of the Van Nuys Airport, and some folks who live near that airport are appalled. "This is the last straw–people fornicating in the skies over our city," says Gerald Silver, president of Homeowners of Encino. "What people do in their own bedroom is their business. What they do over our heads is the community's business."
? A Canadian art student has embarked on an ambitious project. Jubal Brown plans to vomit–in a primary color–on at least three famous paintings. He's already puked blue on a Mondrian in New York's Museum of Modern Art. And he upchucked red on a painting by Raoul Dufy in the Art Gallery of Ontario. Next up is yellow on a painting and place that he won't announce yet. Brown says his intention is "to destroy art, to liberate individuals and living creatures from its banal, oppressive representation."
? Honor someone and something. Remember something else and keep it somewhere. A poll of 100 Danish ministers found that 80 percent could not recite all of the 10 commandments. Three ministers even tried to entice someone to break one of the commandments–or at least a common interpretation–by telling their wives to say they weren't at home.
? In Malawi, a tribal chief thought that an acrobatic troupe's performance mocked traditional dances, so he banished the group from the area and fined local leaders who permitted the performance five goats each. The bar owner who hired the acrobats had to pony up one cow for his role in the crime.
? Last year, the state of New York legalized the popular new no-holds-barred fighting contests. Two different tournaments were announced in the state, and all hell broke loose. The New York Times, the governor, and the mayor of New York City denounced the events as barbaric. And, despite the law, the state athletic commission ran the events out of the state. Then the state legislature passed a bill to criminalize the events once more. But this bill also bans firms from profiting in any way from the fights. It seems to ban newspapers from taking ads for such fights, cable companies from carrying them, and stores from renting or selling videos of the contests–even if they are held somewhere other than New York. The First Amendment ended up taking a body shot in this fight.
? President Clinton's State of the Union speech contained much, uh, wisdom. But nothing matches this gem: "The United States must look not only west, to Europe, but also east, to Asia." Next time, Bill, look at a map before speaking.
? China long ago banned independent churches, and it still punishes those who worship in non-sanctioned congregations. About 80 members of an underground Catholic church have been arrested, jailed, and beaten in Jiangxi province.
? New York City cop Andrew Schlagler has been arrested on charges of harassment. He went into a bar and allegedly plastered stickers with violent, racist messages on windows, booths, and patrons' clothes.
? Also in New York City, employees of a shelter for battered women have been dismissed following allegations that the workers coerced women into sex, used drugs, and let abusive boyfriends and husbands into the shelter. The shelter is the only one for battered women run by city workers. The rest are run by private agencies.