For anyone tempted to make a caustic remark to a backseat driver, let Robert Mickens serve as a warning. Earlier this month, the Greyhound bus driver took an unscheduled detour to avoid heavy traffic on a trip from Philadelphia to New York. When some passengers questioned whether he knew where he was going, Mickens reportedly quipped: "I'm taking you to the Taliban." Three cellphone calls to 911 later, 18 police cruisers had hemmed in his bus in Marlboro, N.J., and Mickens was charged with creating a false public alarm. After a thorough search, the bus continued on ... with a replacement driver at the wheel.
Q: If a police force uses dogs in its work, may they appear in a TV commercial? A: Not according to the West Virginia Ethics Commission. It ruled last month that two state Forestry Division bloodhounds are "public servants" and thus shouldn't be used in ads for a company that supplies their food free of charge. There would be, the panel said, no "overriding public benefit." Oh, OK, sighed a forestry division official.
WHAT: The International Children's Digital Library (ICDL) offers free access to children's literature from around the world. It is maintained by the Internet Archive and the University of Maryland Human-Computer Interaction Lab.
BEST POINTS: The collection is divided into shelves representing "genres," such as the languages, shapes, colors, and emotions books evoke. Children can select literature from a specific region by clicking on a world map. The ICDL now has nearly 200 titles selected by international librarians, publishers, and authors representing 45 cultures.
Visitors can read books in several formats. The "Spiral reader" allows children to flip through the book using "fast forward" or "rewind" options. With the "Comic Strip reader," children can see all the pages simultaneously in a storyboard layout.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The ICDL provides access to more than 27 complete books from about 15 cultures. Certain parts of the site require high-speed Internet connections.
'We're in control of United's destiny. This is a tremendous opportunity ... to transform this company and to emerge stronger than ever.'
- United chief executive Glenn Tilton, after the troubled carrier filed the largest bankruptcy in aviation history.
It's a dubious honor, but St. Louis displaced three-time winner Detroit as the most dangerous US city. Amherst, N.Y., near the Canadian border, was dubbed safest for a third straight year by Morgan Quitno Press. The research and publishing firm ranked more than 600 metropolitan areas based on FBI statistics for murder, rape, and other crimes. The top five cities in each category:
1. Amherst, N.Y.
2. Brick Township, N.J.
3. Newton, Mass.
4. Thousand Oaks, Calif.
5. Sunnyvale, Calif.
1. St. Louis
4. Gary, Ind.