Academia

Brickbats

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New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has ordered the police to crack down on traffic violations, and citations have soared. But somehow the newly vigilant police have repeatedly missed one car that keeps endangering public safety: the mayor's. Over a period of several months, the New York Daily News spotted the mayor's police-driven car running red lights, speeding, making illegal turns, parking illegally, and passing school buses as children boarded. When confronted by News reporters, Giuliani defiantly told them to "report that to the police department." Apparently, the mayor is well aware of the NYPD's spotty reputation for policing its own.

When officials in Songdalen, Norway, received $25,730 from an anonymous donor who asked that the money be used to care for the elderly, they reacted the way bureaucrats normally react to gestures of goodwill. They got suspicious. They tipped off the police, who tracked down the donor. It turns out the man had routinely accepted cash payments over the years but had not declared the income in his taxes. A guilty conscience finally prompted him to try to pay the amount he thought he owed. His "good deed" won't save him from having to pay those back taxes, along with interest, fines, and legal fees.

The Indian government has proposed a law which would set aside one-third of the seats in parliament for women. The quota bill has drawn noisy protests from those who complain that it doesn't specifically reserve seats for Muslim women and for women belonging to economically backward communities.

When a student at Kingsville District High School in Ontario, Canada, complained that money had been taken from his locker during gym class, his teacher asked for the culprit to come forward. When no one confessed to the crime, the teacher summoned the vice principal, and the two strip-searched the 20 boys in the class. They didn't find any money. But they did find trouble: After 200 students walked out of classes to protest the search, which seems to violate Canadian law, the school district opened an investigation.

To their credit, Canadian educators have a ways to go before they catch up with the U.S. Customs Service, which strip-searches and detains hundreds of travelers a year looking for drugs. Some suspects are kept for hours, even days, without being allowed to call lawyers or family. Only about a fourth are caught with illegal substances. The other 73 percent are clean. Indeed, they are very clean, since Customs sometimes requires them to take powerful laxatives to make sure they haven't swallowed any drugs.

Politicians all over the world are looking for policies that can boost economic growth, and Canadian Industry Minister John Manley says he's found a winner: raise taxes. "High tax levels… should increase productivity because it would drive innovation in order to lower other costs," he said. And that innovation should raise productivity, which should raise growth. Next up, no doubt: A proposal to spur economic activity by burning down existing businesses.

European gourmets may have to do without one of their favorite delicacies, foie gras. A study for the European Commission has suggested banning the dish, which comes from the livers of ducks and geese that are force-fed through a tube. The study said "force feeding as currently practiced is detrimental to the welfare of the birds." Of course, the killing and eating of the birds would seem to be even more detrimental to their welfare.

Obviously, the French aren't too happy about the prospect of a world sans foie gras. But they may not notice, as they're so busy banning things on their own. The government has barred the purchase, acquisition, and importation of "attack dogs," particularly pit bull terriers. Any such dogs already in France will have to be sterilized. The government hopes to completely eliminate the breed from France within 10 years.