News In Brief


The image it conjures up is frightening: A Japanese bullet train, capable of 167 m.p.h., cruising along with no one at the controls for five minutes while the driver searched for the uniform cap that company rules require him to wear at all times. He left his seat to look once he realized it wasn't on his head. But, no harm done. The incident happened as he was ferrying the empty train from a holding shed - at about 15 m.p.h. Next time, though, Central Japan Railway says he should wait until the next stop before worrying about the rule.


Twice in less than a day, police in Decatur, Ga., swooped in to ticket suspects in a solicitation case. The targets: Girl Scouts using commercial parking lots as venues for their annual cookie drive. Alas, they lacked a permit, and the fines start at $100. But then news outlets picked up the story and the realization set in that this was a public relations problem. As you might imagine, the tickets were voided, and the cops became customers too.

New and seasoned authors win Book Critic Circle awards

Essays by Cynthia Ozick, a biography of Emperor Hirohito, and a novel about love and death were winners at the 26th National Book Critic Circle Awards in New York. Ozick, a four-time nominee, won in the criticism category for her collection "Quarrel & Quandary," which has essays on the transcendence of poetry and the commercialization of "The Diary of Anne Frank." Britain's Jim Crace won the fiction prize for "Being Dead" over better-known writers Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon. The winners:

General nonfiction: "Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing," by Ted Conover (Random House)

Criticism: "Quarrel & Quandry" by Cynthia Ozick (Knopf)

Poetry: "Carolina Ghost Woods" by Judy Jordan (Louisiana State University Press)

Biography/Autobiography: "Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan" by Herbert P. Bix (HarperCollins)

Fiction: "Being Dead" by Jim Crace (Farrar Straus & Giroux)

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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