With the best of intentions, the security service for Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik ordered a new bomb-and bullet-proof limousine to help protect him from attack by terrorists. But, arguably, the move makes the head of government feel no safer than before. Why? Because he can't use it. The four-ton car, built by BMW and clad in armor plating, has been ruled too heavy for Norway's roads. So it's parked in an Oslo garage, awaiting modifications that probably mean the removal of some safety features, Bondevik's spokesman said.
Like other public institutions in Russia, the high schools often are desperately short of funds. Even so, a money-raising scheme at a school in the southern city of Taganrog got a stern "Nyet" from education authorities. Pupils, it seems, were being charged for rest-room visits. And the purpose of this pay-as-you-go system? To repair lavatory fixtures damaged by student vandals.
New- and used-car sales displaced home repairs as the No. 1 source of consumer complaints last year, according an annual list. The National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators and the citizens advocacy group Consumer Federation of America surveyed 300,000 complaints filed with 43 state or local agencies, which, in turn, won $130 million in refunds for dissatisfied customers. The top 10 categories of consumer gripes in 2002:
1. New/used car sales
2. Home repairs
3. Automotive repairs
4. Credit/credit repair
7. Big-ticket household goods
(tie) Telecommunications/ cable and satellite TV
(tie) Real estate/landlord-tenant disputes
- Associated Press