Brickbats: October 2022

News of politicians, police, and bureaucrats behaving badly from around the world.


In June, 50 people who happened to be at Calgary's CORE Shopping Centre around lunchtime got a summons for immediate jury duty. The Canadian practice is called talesman, and it allows officials to grab someone off the street—or in this case the mall—to fill out a jury pool. The last time it was used in Calgary was in 1996.

Hundreds of people in China's Henan province planned to protest their banks, which have been refusing to allow them to withdraw money for the past two months. Then all of their smartphone health code icons turned from green to red. Under China's travel regulations and social credit system, this barred them from using public transportation or going to places like restaurants and malls.

Kevin Bohn, a cop in Cinnaminson Township, New Jersey, has pleaded guilty to misusing a police database and falsifying police records. Bohn used a police database to search for information on a woman with an OnlyFans page. In an attempt to cover his tracks, he created incident reports for his searches and then closed the cases.

The Canadian government announced in June that it will ban the import and manufacture of most single-use plastic products later this year and ban the sale of such items next year. The ban will cover straws, utensils, and checkout bags.

(Brickbats: October 2022)

The Japanese legislature has increased the penalty for insulting someone online. Those found guilty of violating the law face up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 300,000 yen ($2,200). Previously, those found guilty of insulting someone online faced up to 30 days in prison or a fine of up to 10,000 yen ($75).

(Illustrations: Peter Bagge)

For 36 years, Judy and Ed Craine have parked their car on the driveway of their San Francisco home. Then they got a $1,542 ticket, along with the threat of another $250 a day in fines if they didn't move the car. The city's planning department told them that it's illegal to park in front of their home, but they could be grandfathered in if they demonstrated that parking was a historic use of the driveway. When the couple found a 34-year-old photo of their car parked there, they were told that wasn't old enough. When they found an aerial photo from 1938 that they believe shows a car there, they were told it was too fuzzy.

In 1993, Jeanette Taylor, then a 19-year-old mother of three, applied for a housing voucher from the Chicago Housing Authority. The government responded in 2004 with an offer but told her she could not have her son, who had since graduated high school, on the lease. She declined. Taylor, now a city alderwoman, received another letter this May saying she had made it to the top of the waiting list. The letter asked if she still wanted the voucher.

(Illustrations: Peter Bagge)

The Canadian government will require an anti-smoking message to be printed on every individual cigarette. The requirement is expected to take effect in 2023. The exact message hasn't been decided; according to Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett, the current proposal is "poison in every puff."