Brickbats

February 2007

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• Police in Treovis, England, have warned Gordon MacKillop that he could be charged under the Protection From Harassment Act. MacKillop, they claim, placed “a garden gnome with intent to cause harassment.” MacKillop says he put the gnome, which is dressed like a police officer, in his yard to deter criminals. But a neighbor, former police officer John McLean, says the gnome is in “an annoying position.”

• Also in Great Britain, government officials say hospitals are too efficient. At least six of the nation’s health trusts have forced hospitals to create minimum waiting times for patients to receive treatment. Officials say the hospitals have “gotten ahead” of what the National Health Service can afford.

• In Saudi Arabia, the provincial government of Makkah has banned the sale of cats and dogs. According to the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, people were taking their pets out into public and upsetting families with small children.

• Three NYPD officers have pleaded not guilty to breaking into a Brooklyn massage parlor, ripping out a surveillance camera, and stealing a videotape. They apparently were trying to destroy evidence that a previous prostitution bust at the massage parlor was based on lies by one of the officers. But a backup security system caught their break-in, and part of the massage parlor’s security system was reportedly found in the desk of Lt. Stephen Wong. Wong is the vice integrity control officer for the unit, responsible for keeping officers honest.

• A court found Pitchfork Records owner Michael Cohen not guilty of selling a bootleg CD, but he still can’t get around 600 CDs seized by police back. In asking for the albums, Cohen agreed that some of them were bootlegs and selling them would be illegal. He says he wants them back for his personal collection, but the Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled that even possessing such CDs is illegal. If the ruling stands, the CDs will be destroyed.

• Merchtem, Belgium, has banned the use of French in schools. Parents and children may speak only Dutch on school grounds. Merchtem lies in an area where Dutch has traditionally been the main language, but the number of French speakers is increasing.

• Security guards at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Air Academy High School handcuffed and detained three cheerleaders before a football game. Guards had allegedly spotted the three putting paper over the first five letters of a sign reading “Douglassville Valley Elementary School.” The girls were released to their parents; no charges were filed.

• Scottish police investigated and a prosecutor cautioned soccer player Artur Boruc for allegedly making the sign of the cross during a game between the Celtics, Boruc’s team, and the Rangers. The gesture reportedly angered a section of the Rangers’ fans.