Academia

Brickbats

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? U.S. Navy officials in Norfolk, Virginia, were upset to find that their telephone directory mistakenly listed the number for a toll-free sex line instead of the number for an emergency line at the Navy Safety Center. They were even more upset when they found that the incorrect number had been listed for three years without anyone reporting it.

? The Little League in Lemont, Illinois, will be a bit more hard-pressed for cash for uniforms and equipment next year. Mike and Pat O'Brien have long sponsored a team. In return the team wears the name of their business, a local bar called The Carousel. Little League rules don't bar sponsorship by a bar, so long as alcoholic beverages aren't specifically named. But this year, one girl on the team taped over the name of the bar. When officials warned her that she was violating league policy, her family threatened to sue the Little League and The Carousel for "forcing" her to wear the bar's name. The O'Briens say they can't afford to fight a lawsuit, so they'll no longer sponsor a team.

? The new wing at Barnstable High School is so soundproof that youngsters can't hear the fire alarms. So the school board in Hyannis, Massachusetts, took action. They hired firefighters to stand guard over the new wing, at a cost of $1,000 a day. If the fire alarm rings, the firefighters will let everyone know.

? Don't do the crime if you can't sue your victim. Mortimer Hetsberger robbed the Fleet Bank in Atlantic City, New Jersey. No one disputes that. But Hetsberger says he silently handed the teller a note asking for money. The teller, Laura Gonzalez, says he threatened to shoot her if she didn't comply. Hetsberger says that's a lie that caused him to be charged with first-degree robbery instead of a lesser crime, third-degree theft by unlawful taking. So he's suing Gonzalez for slander, and he's asking local prosecutors to charge Gonzalez "for her crimes."

? Iowa's attorney general has started an investigation of companies that sell candy cigarettes. Anti-smoking activists claim these candies entice children to smoke. But it isn't exactly clear what laws the candy makers may have broken. Still, if the state of Iowa takes action, it could start a trend. Maybe next someone could investigate the makers of wax lips under the theory that they encourage children to have unnecessary collagen injections.

? If you ever find yourself driving through Pacific Grove, California, keep your cell phone handy and watch out for stray pets. The city is considering an ordinance that will make it a crime to drive off without reporting an accident if you hit an animal with your car.

? Some teenage boys apparently consider it the height of style to wear their pants so low that their underwear shows. Those young men should avoid Opelousas, Louisiana. It seems some adults there were outraged, and whenever people get outraged, someone inevitably says, "There oughta be a law." The police department said there was. They've started handing out citations for indecent exposure to boys with low-fitting pants.

? In Montgomery, Alabama, Cassandra Agee would have the kids on the school bus she drove read and analyze passages from the Bible. When Joseph Brown, a freshman at Robert E. Lee High School, protested, Agee told him to find another way to school if he didn't want to participate. Brown's mother complained, and the school board took swift action. They assigned Agee to another route.

? Smashed storefronts. Swastikas on the sidewalk. No, it isn't Nazi Germany. It's Berkeley, California, one of the most liberal cities in the United States. And that explains why Andy Ross' store has been vandalized and why he has been receiving postcards calling him a "cancerous Jew." Ross has been a leader among store owners who've been trying to get the city to stop homeless people from loitering outside their shops. Ross and city officials agree that his efforts have led to the harassment he's been suffering.

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