What if it had been an egg?

If, in frustration, a protester hurls a tomato at a prominent government official and scores a direct hit, how should the thrower be charged? Well, that apparently depends on the color of the tomato. At least, it does in Cottbus, Germany, where a man in the ranks of the unemployed, who face cuts in their welfare benefits beginning Jan. 1, plunked the premier of Brandenburg State. This particular tomato happened to be yellow - and therein lies the problem. Had it been red and fully ripe, the charge would have been malicious damage. A still-green fruit would have subjected our guy to potentially greater punishment for intent to inflict bodily harm. But since it was somewhere in between, prosecutors are taking their time to make the correct call.

'I'm stuck in traffic' - a common commuter gripe

Commuters in metropolitan Los Angeles on average are tied up in traffic jams about 93 hours a year, or almost four whole days. That's one of the startling findings in the latest Urban Mobility Report, which Texas A&M University's Texas Transportation Institute compiles each year. Not surprisingly, freeway delays make Los Angeles a perennial leader in this unenviable category. But if misery loves company, Angelinos have plenty. According to the study, urban travel delays in the 85 largest US markets have increased 187 percent since 1982, from 16 hours a year to 46. The metropolitan areas with the worst congestion and average number of hours in annual delays:

1. Los Angeles/Long Beach/Santa Ana, Calif. 93
2. San Francisco/Oakland, Calif. 73
3. Washington/Virginia and Maryland suburbs 67
4. Dallas/Fort Worth/ Arlington, Texas 61
5. Atlanta 60
6. Houston 58
7. Riverside/San Bernadino, Calif. 57
8 Chicago/northern Indiana 56
9. Boston/New Hampshire/ Rhode Island 54
10. San Jose, Calif. 53
- Associated Press

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