AS THE WORLD TURNS by Walter OlsonNews Weekly
, February 24, 2001
Moonbeams from the larger lunacy
* Serious fire code violations, including lack of smoke alarms in sleeping quarters and an improperly installed firewall, threatened to delay the ribbon-cutting of a $1-million public facility in Charleston, West Virginia.
The facility was a fire station.
* Escaped Bulgarian murderer Mincho Donchev, who lived for 10 years as a "mountain man" robbing vacation cabins in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state, won a US$412,500 settlement in his lawsuit against Snohomish County for excessive force in his arrest. A police dog had mangled Donchev's foot as officers tried to subdue him. At the time of the arrest, Donchev was armed with knives, handguns, and a pronged stick.
Donchev's attorney said the money would help ease his client's re-entry into society on his release from prison.
* Ed O'Rourke sued Florida's Tampa Electric, along with six bars and stores that sold him alcoholic beverages, over a 1996 incident in which he was blasted by 13,000 volts of electricity after breaking into a fenced, gated, and locked utility sub-station and climbing up a transformer in what he termed a "drunken stupor".
* Four New Jersey kindergartners were given three-day suspensions after they pretended their fingers were guns and played at shooting each other in a game of cops and robbers. "This is a no-tolerance policy. We're very firm on weapons and threats," said district superintendent William L. Bauer. "Given the climate of our society, we cannot take any of these statements in a light manner."
* In Great Britain, the Defence Ministry announced that the noise to which soldiers are exposed from military brass bands, and likewise the noise from gunfire during infantry training exercises, was in violation of occupational-safety regulations safeguarding workers' hearing. "One solution would be to provide ear protectors during training, but then soldiers couldn't hear their Sergeant Major giving orders," said a Ministry spokesman.
* The chief of Britain's military staff, General Sir Charles Guthrie, assailed as "ill-conceived" a proposal floated by figures within British officialdom that the armed services should be compelled to accept disabled recruits for front-line positions.
* Meanwhile, British schoolyards are prohibiting children from engaging in skipping and other quaint pastimes such as the game of "conkers", played by throwing chestnuts at classmates.
A survey by Keele University found educators were nervous about being sued, and one headmaster declared that if he had his way he would "ban all playtimes, as they are a nightmare".