Top-secret classifieds, super-secret Gulf War weapons, vanity violations ...
? Malvin Marshall was taken to a hospital in North Carolina. Some powder was found in his pants pocket. Marshall said the powder was the remnants of vitamin tablets he'd accidentally left in his pants when he ran them through the wash. But the police were called, and they ran tests that said the substance was heroin. Marshall was arrested. Later, more-sophisticated tests showed that the powder was indeed vitamins. By then Marshall, who couldn't afford bail, had spent six weeks in jail.
? From our military intelligence department comes word that the military has weapons so secret that they can't be used. One Gulf War commander told Aviation Week & Space Technology that he was told a weapon was available that could help him win the war. "When I asked what it was, they'd say, `I can't tell you,' or `I can't reveal the effects,' or `I can't tell you how it would work with other systems.'" Rather than use weapons they couldn't understand, the commanders told them to go to hell.
? California resident Judy Ann Petty is fighting to keep her personalized license plate. It reads "RAPNJAP" and is a sign of devotion to her husband Robin Arnett Petty. For 11 years she's had the plate and had no problems. But recently, a Japanese-American police officer saw the plate while on patrol and had his lawyer file a complaint with the Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV says the term "Jap" is offensive to Japanese and has ordered Petty to give up the plate.
? In Oregon, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a white man who got punched by a black co-worker for making repeated racist remarks is entitled to worker's compensation for his injuries.
? Tennis player Steffi Graf says she quit the Roman Catholic Church for "personal reasons." But others say that she could have been one of the thousands of Germans who have left their churches to save on taxes. Since the days of the Weimar Republic, Germany has collected a tax from members of organized religion to fund those churches. Only members of unrecognized faiths, such as Islam or Scientology, are exempt. The tax is now 8 percent or 9 percent of a person's income. But those who aren't members of a church don't have to pay, prompting many to leave their churches.
? The Bakersfield, California, Business Conference held a symposium to discuss the Internal Revenue Service. Among the invited speakers were Reps. Dick Armey (R-Texas) and Billy Tauzin (R-La.), two critics of the agency. This apparently didn't sit well with one local IRS worker. He faxed a letter, on IRS stationery, to the sponsors of the event. It said that it would be "inappropriate" to have Tauzin and Armey speak. Upon hearing of the letter, an IRS spokesman said the worker acted without authorization, but refused to say if the employee would be punished.
? From Tel Aviv comes word of some interesting "roommate wanted" ads placed on bulletin boards throughout the city. They were written on the back of top secret military documents. Seems a woman who worked in one of Israel's most sensitive intelligence units was looking for someone to share her apartment. She grabbed what she thought was some blank paper to make ads, and didn't notice the writing on the back or the label "Top Secret."
? In Hollywood, Florida, six veteran police officers were suspended from the SWAT team after getting kicked out of a training session at a military post. The six were sent there to learn new techniques to fight drug dealers. They came back to the post one evening smelling of alcohol. The errant officers were ordered out of their vehicle and told to walk to their barracks. Later, three of them broke into a supply building and got into a paintball fight. All six were ordered off the base before the training session even began.
? Coming soon to a Web site near you: federal anti-discrimination law. The World Wide Web Consortium, which sets Web standards, is looking at ways to make the Internet more friendly to the deaf and the blind. These handicapped-friendly standards may not be voluntary. The director of the project says the standards might be used by government to force Webmasters to make their sites handicapped-accessible.