Wednesday, December 31, 1997

Yesterday I saw a shiny very black Acura with the license plate "Lord Vadr".

The new president of Pakistan, after the last one is forced out, is a Muslim loon and former judge who once ordered a robber's hands and feet amputated and opposed women having the right to initiate divorce or be awarded custody of children.

This week I've been especially thrilled that the US does not have Britain's libel laws. It is illegal to name the 17-year old son of the tough-on-crime-tough-on-the-causes-of-crime Home Secretary who was caught selling dope. He seems likely not even to be tried, but the reporter who bought the weed has been arrested.

Careful readers of the previous paragraph will notice that I violated British law by revealing a piece of information that if I know it, most of Britain must as well, but it's not in any of the newspapers.

Sunday, December 28, 1997

It should be noted that the Ulster Loyalist shot to death in his cell yesterday, a man who rejoiced in the name King Rat, was in the Maze Prison, the same one from which a Nat escaped earlier this month dressed in women's clothes. Security, anyone?

Friday, December 26, 1997

Sentence of the day, From the Guardian: "The Prince of Wales would also probably not have met the Spice Girls in public had a sense of crisis not prevailed."

Sloppy headline of the week: "Brazil man kills wife for meager Christmas meal."

Wednesday, December 24, 1997


Hawaii's domestic partners law, 4 months old, is a miserable failure, with only 296 couples signed up. And not all of those are gay, since while it doesn't apply to hetero couples, it does apply to siblings, widows & adult children, etc. Kinky.

A Republican Xmas story: Michigan state Rep. Jack Horton (R-1950s) says that mothers shouldn't work, so he fires an employee of seven years who has just adopted. He says he's following his principles, which is not a word usually applied to misogyny. Naturally, he is a supporter of forcing mothers on welfare to work 20 hours a week.

Clinton has issued his annual pardons, which do not amazingly enough include anyone on his staff or immediate family, but do include some guy who was court-martialed in 1947 for stealing 4 pounds of butter, and someone who stole a bunch of spark plugs and is thankful that Clinton has restored his civil rights: he can now be a gun-owner again.

Finally, a cheery holiday thought: Russia has ended its pledge of no first use of nuclear weapons.
In the past 5 years, while the homicide rate in the US has dropped 22%, that on Indian reservations has increased 87%. Does anyone know why?

A recent spill of classified info shows that it is possible for governments to keep secrets for long periods of time, always a valuable reminder. Two from the year of my birth: JFK was, as has been generally believed, ordering a withdrawal of troops from Vietnam before he died. And the US developed and deployed baby nukes, 1 kiloton devices designed for mining harbors and such, carried by parachutists and divers. Also the "Davy Crockett" nuclear bazooka. If you're doing any last-minute shopping....

Also, the head of the KGB 1961-67 says that the plot that deposed Khruschev was only bloodless because he refused Brezhnev's request that he assassinate Mr. K.

Also, a couple of people from State under Carter, including Richard Holbrooke, have a piece in today's NY Times to the effect that Kim Dae Jung was expected to be executed in 1980, but that South Korea was waiting until before Reagan's inauguration, figuring that Reagan would let them get away with what Carter wouldn't. So Holbrooke contacted RR's nominee to head NSC, Richard Allen, and had him contact Seoul.

Also, the CIA crippled Taiwan's secret nuclear program with a spy who defected to the US in 1987, taking all the papers with him.

I'd say we need juries second-guessing tv casting decisions like we need pregnant "vixens". The story is so silly that no one's complaining about the 1st Amendment aspect.

Bosnian Serb elections are in and the fascist wins over the fascist.

Wednesday, December 17, 1997

The holiday season is upon us and that can mean only one thing: secret executions in Japan. Probably tomorrow, a whole bunch of people will be taken out of their cells and hanged. Didn't know that Japan had the death penalty, did you? That's cause it's all done in secret. Even the executees don't know who they are yet, and certainly not their lawyers, cause it's a secret until they are, as I said, taken out of their cells and hanged. Whatever happened to a lump of coal in a stocking?

The shortest president in American history was James Madison, 5'4" and under 100 pounds.

More in my continuing coverage of sterilization of the retarded: Australia is still doing it, although it's illegal now.

Fun fact of the day: the moon is 15,654,023,458 inches from the earth, give or take an inch. A very expensive project just bounced a laser off the moon, because you really need to have that distance accurate to within an inch, just like you can never have too many digits in pi.

Latest black conspiracy theory: Ron Brown was assassinated. Oh I know his plane crashed, but evidently he was shot to death as well, either before or after the crash. Alan Keyes and Congresscritter Maxine Waters want an investigation.

Did the New York Times really think that the predominance in public suggestions that the new White House dog be named "Fudge" was because of his coloring? One former White House aide, I forget who, wrote a piece in the Times last week suggesting that the dog should watch its back, given what happens to the unconditionally loyal in this administration. Last month there was a big fuss in Britain over the disappearance of the Downing St. cat Humphrey (named after Sir Humphrey Appleby of the tv series Yes Minister), whose kidney ailments have made him an embarrassment, shall we say. There were suggestions that he was put down because Cherie Blair hates cats. It turns out that this was a lie put out by the Conservative Party Central Office. And some cable company just hired 3 strippers to surprise Tory leader William Hague, who is getting married tomorrow. Humphrey's exile should be a lesson to Socks and Buddy: don't pee on anything, or you may "disappear." After all, you don't see Warren Christopher around anymore.

Tuesday, December 16, 1997

Sometimes I get a wild urge to relieve my bladder over it, splattingly on the ant-like crowds

Alan Clark, the famous British politician and adulterer, is suing the Evening Standard for satirical diary entries in his style, saying it detracts from his reputation as a man of letters. Here is an excerpt from his real diaries:

"I travelled down by train, and a plump young lady came into my compartment at Waterloo. She was not wearing a bra, and her delightful globes bounced prominently ... I gave her a huge grin; I couldn't help it." (18/2/84)

"Palace Hotel, Helsinki, Saturday, 27 September: God knows what's going to happen tomorrow. A kind of 'getting to know you' day has been laid on, with fishing on the lakes, drinking schnapps and (I don't like the sound of this at all) a sauna. Doesn't everybody wander about sweating, but naked?

"But I don't in the least bit mind letting girls see my penis. I suppose it's because I fear - for quite extraneous physical reasons - becoming lightly, or indeed heavily, tumescent and attracting the attention of other men."

"Department of Employment, Thursday June 23, 1983: there is a tiny balcon, a gutter really, with a very low parapet, below knee height. Certain death on the Victoria Street pavement eight floors below. Sometimes I get a wild urge to relieve my bladder over it, splattingly on the ant-like crowds."

"British Embassy, Sofia, Wednesday April 13, 1988: far too many people seem to know that today is my birthday, which of course I don't like at all as it makes it more difficult to ignore the fact that I am 60. I refuse to be 60. 'Mirror, mirror on the wall ...' etc. And the Bulgarians are threatening to sing Happy Birthday."

Saturday, December 13, 1997

The bit about the dead resumé-enhancing ambassador I most enjoy is that he used his "military record" to overcome Republican objections to his being completely unqualified to be ambassador to Switzerland, and to evidently thinking that Switz. was a NATO ally. Does anyone else remember Reagan lying about his non-existent war record, or Dan Quayle claiming to be a "Vietnam era veteran"?

In 2350 BC, the great civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Mesopotamia all collapsed at once. The cause seems to have been massive meteor strikes. They'll be back in 3000 A.D. Keep watching the skies.

Emissaries of the Taliban spent the week in Texas, signing a $3 billion deal with Unocal to build a pipeline across Afghanistan, backed by the US government.

This week, the day before Gerry Adams met Tony Blair at No. 10, an IRA prisoner escaped. This from the Sunday Times:

Asked to explain how a man dressed in a badly fitting wig, inexpertly applied make-up and a home-made frock managed to walk out of a maximum security jail in Northern Ireland, a source close to the governor said: "Well it's hardly our fault. I mean we have Mo Mowlam in and out of here all the time."

Thursday, December 11, 1997

That Israeli Mossad official who made up his Syrian source used to teach at the Mossad spy school--a course on "The Lie as Art."

The cold war is over. Germany will sooner or later move its capital to Berlin, where the government always used to make its best decisions. And Kazakhstan just this week moved its capital to Akmola. Mosquitos in the summer, -40 degrees in the winter, hundreds of people dying of cold each year because the gas and power supply is less than reliable.

Two records in Britain: their oldest person just died at 114, which means she was 18 when Queen Victoria died. She is not the oldest person ever to live in Britain, if you count Thomas Parr, who died in 1635 at the age of 152. Well, that's what it says in those ads for Parr's Life Pills I keep seeing in newspapers from the 1840s.

And someone set the traffic ticket record, for speeding at 154 MPH. An Aston Martin, if you're wondering.

We'll see if I'm right, but this may be the next Christian right-wing scandal after gays in Disneyland and Ellen DeGeneres: the Mass. Supreme Court has ruled that a divorced father who has recently found god may not teach his children about it, and certainly may not take them to his church where they are likely to be told that non-Christians like their mother, an Orthodox Jew, are going to burn in hell.

The Supreme Court just made an important decision on double jeopardy. The previous standard, since 1989, states that civil penalties can only be assessed separately from criminal ones if the amount involved is to compensate the government for injury caused, and not if they are so high as to constitute an actual punishment. Which seems reasonable. This has been reversed, 9-0 yet, which means that, what, 4 or 5 people must have changed their minds since 1989. The definition of whether a fine is civil rather than criminal is--whatever Congress says it is when it enacts the fine.

Now I'll repeat my question of last week since nobody answered it: SINCE WHEN DO WE HAVE TRIAL IN ABSENTIA IN THIS COUNTRY?

Thursday, December 04, 1997

First sentence of a book review in the American Historical Review: "The study of ancient Greek music is a curious one, in that we have little idea how it sounded."

Another academic book for everyone on your xmas list: “A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Sexual Puns and Their Significance”. 20 bucks at finer bookstore everywhere. 372 pages, believe it or not.

You might check out the web site of the Museum of Bad Art.

The sooner they get Yeltsin out of office and into his own Pizza Hut contract, the better. The amazing thing is that only a day or two after his presumably drunken offer to cut nuclear warheads by one-third was disavowed by his handlers, his new offer to cut his ground and naval forces by 40% was actually reported as a serious news story.

No mention yet in American papers of Arafat's promise of a couple of days ago to declare independence in 1999 and NetanYAHOOOOO's threat to send in the troops.

Incidentally, the coverage of the Israeli Cabinet's fake commitment to withdraw an unspecified number of troops from an unspecified section of the West Bank at an unspecified date in the future got coverage almost as uncynical as Yeltsin's promises have been getting. If I were the Serbs or Saddam Hussein, I'd be issuing press releases during Free Ride Week.

As Nazi looted gold talks continue, little mention is being made of gypsies. A disproportionate amount of gold was taken from them, since gypsies are traditionally not great believers in bank accounts. Some of that gold was sent by the Catholics who ran camps in Croatia, where 28,000 gypsies were killed, to the Vatican.

There is a great battle going on as to who is the current Emperor of France, the inheritor of Napoleon's title (actually, Prince, but what the hell). The late Prince Louis Napoleon disinherited his son for marrying a commoner, and without permission yet. So lawyers for the grandson, age 11, are fighting it out with the disinherited Prince Charles. Say what you will, it's still probably of greater significance than the debate over whether Janet Reno should have appointed a special prosecutor over the burning question of which telephone Al Gore used.

In Maryland, lawyers are soliciting business by mail from people who are wanted by the police, but who do not necessarily know until then that they are wanted by the police.

Back to Israel: we'll see how this plays out, since Israeli censorship is pretty good at keeping information from the US as well as its own citizens, but it seems that last year a senior Mossad official almost started a war with Syria. For years he had used a fake Syrian source (or possibly a real source he just hadn't spoken to in years) to claim that Syria had no interest in peace. Last summer this right-wing loon decided to kill any possible pull-out from the Golan Heights by claiming that Syria was about to launch a military strike. Israel deployed its tanks, but didn't go over the edge. We'll see whether this gets any coverage in the US, where there has been almost none given to information from the Kremlin archives showing that the world was very close to a nuclear war in 1983.

A question for the lawyers: since when does this country convict people in absentia? France just refused to extradite someone convicted of murder in Pennsylvania, who would not have gotten a proper retrial.

Another lovely trend: an organization in L.A. is paying drug addicts $200 to be sterilized.

An interesting demographics story in today's Post and elsewhere observes that black male life expectancy in the District of Columbia is now 57.9 years, although a Sioux reservation has lower, while black men just over the border in Virginia live 14 years longer, and Asian women in upstate NJ live 97.7 years. Men of all races live 63 years in Baltimore (but it seems longer), which is lower than in Russia, while those in 2 Utah counties live 77.5 years (but it seems longer). There is thus a 40-yr gap in life expectancy between different groups in this country. By coincidence, British health figures in tomorrow's papers make a comparison possible. There is no racial breakdown, but the figures otherwise are much more closely grouped. Men in Cambridge live 7 years longer than those in Manchester or Liverpool, and the longest-lived women (by health district) live 12 years longer than the shortest-lived men, but that's hardly 40 years. No region deviates more than 5 years from the average male or female life expectancy. The NHS lives.

Wednesday, November 19, 1997


Plus ça change: a Supreme Court ruling said that it is time that blacks cease "to be the special favorite of the laws, and his rights as a citizen, or a man, are to be protected in the ordinary modes by which other men's rights are protected." This was in an 1883 decision striking down the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which guaranteed equal access to restaurants, rail cars, etc.

Speaking of protection, a fed district court, I believe, refused to let a class-action suit go ahead on behalf of inmates the LA County Jail fails to release when their sentences are up. This happens hundreds if not thousands of times a year because they're a little slow processing paperwork. They can sue on an individual basis which, since the average over-stay is 2 or 3 days, should ensure the cases are not worth a lawyer's time to handle.

Quote of the day: "Masturbation is the thinking man's television." Christopher Hampton

Thursday, November 13, 1997

LA Times headline: "Survey of Top Students Reveals Many Cheat on Tests, Ignore Cigarette Ads"

The DEA is threatening to go after the licenses of doctors who follow the new Oregon assisted suicide law.

Tuesday, November 11, 1997

A story in the Daily Cal highlights the most screwed-over people at Berkeley: people assigned to gay-theme dorms who are not themselves actually gay. In a masterpiece of bad editing, the article says that members of the dorms participate in weekly meetings and go on group outings.

The Supreme Court let stand a ruling supporting strip searches of second graders.

Iraqis are gathering voluntarily (cough) to be human shields to protect the presidential palace. Not to protect the president, who would certainly not be so stupid as to hang out at ground zero, so just to protect his palace.

There was to be a vote in the Senate on the ability of senators to put holds on nominees anonymously, but the vote was killed, anonymously.

Reports leaked to Israeli tv say that Shin Bet hired a right-wing loon to infiltrate the right-wing loons, and he did so so effectively that he was the one who convinced Yigal Amir to assassinate Yitzak Rabin.

A House-Senate conference committee dropped a provision in the intelligence budget that would have allowed employees to whistle-blow about illegal activities, to only those members of Congress on intelligence oversight committees. Clinton had threatened to veto the bills if this provision was included.

Sunday, November 09, 1997

Pakistan, continuing its slow-motion Talibanization, has banned the unseemly showing of women without scarves on tv, removing certain shampoo, soap and toothpaste commercials. Presumably if you don't see them, they don't have to be clean either. On the Cartoon Network, they have censored a scene of the cat kissing a dog. I'd love to know where that one is prohibited in the Koran.

Anyone interested in the new Seymour Hersh book about JFK should check today's London Sunday Times, which has an excerpt.

Disgusting story of the week: You've heard of snuff films. The big new thing is squish films: women in high heels step on baby chicks and hamsters. In Germany this has progressed to cats and dogs. And Scientologists. Charming. This is European and American.

Clinton, speaking out against job discrimination against homosexuals: "Being gay, the last time I thought about it, seemed to have nothing to do with the ability to read a balance book, fix a broken bone or change a sparkplug." Joke 1: that's because when you last thought about it, you were thinking about two chicks doing it. Joke 2: not about changing a sparkplug? Have you ever met a lesbian? Joke 3: sure, it's about the ability to decorate an interior, to dress a hair, to...

By the way, at the event he met Ellen deGeneres, but that photo has not been released, just like when he met Salman Rushdie.

Follow-up: That judge who lied about being the brother of the kid who was killed in Alabama has said that he somehow mixed up in his mind the news event with the similar killing of his sister. Well, guess what--that didn't happen either. We should hardly be surprised as a black Republican is by definition lying to himself. By the way, what the hell was Clinton doing appointing a Republican to the 9th Circuit anyway?

Friday, November 07, 1997

Words to live by: "One man's trash is another man's dissertation." -- director of the George Bush Library, Museum, and Bungee-Jump Centre.

It'll never happen, of course, but the Lord Chancellor of Britain is threatening the venerable tradition of barristers wearing wigs. He is evidently fed up with his own rather more elaborate costume, which is the height of 17th-century fashion. He wants to change it so that he no longer looks like a pirate. He is such a susceptible chan-ce-lor.

Thursday, November 06, 1997

Most Americans believe Congress needs a brain scan performed by a proctologist."

Election '97: none of the women, including the incumbent, won in the Jordanian parliamentary elections.

Maybe we could send them Christine Todd Whitman.

Chechnya has declared itself an Islamic republic. I forgot, why were we supporting independence for these people?

What does it say for your democracy, as in Uttar Pradesh, which if you didn't know is a state in the World's Largest Democracy, 50 years old this year, that in the state assembly building they have had to nail down all the chairs and remove all the paperweights and other throwable objects?

So Clinton's nominee to the 9th Circuit has to withdraw because for years he has been telling this story about being the brother of a black 13-year old shot dead in Birmingham after the 1963 church bombing, and no one ever thought to check.

Quote of the week: Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. (R-Ohio) during a House debate last week on immigration policy: "Let us look at the law, because most Americans believe Congress needs a brain scan performed by a proctologist."

Monday, November 03, 1997

Officers of the LAPD have been told to return the bayonets issued to them. The mind boggles.

Rumor says that Bob Dole has had a face lift. Anyone seen a recent picture?

A record 17 women are running for the Jordanian parliament in tomorrow's elections (against 535 men). The first and only woman MP was elected in 1993 and has been subject to a soupçon of harassment, most notably her husband being forced to divorce her.

Nelson Mandela met both Khadafi and the Spice Girls last week. Anyone have a joke on that?

Article in today's LA Times on forfeiture laws. The Justice Dept is due to argue before the Supreme Court that it's legal for the gov. to seize money taken in or out of the country but not reported, even when it was acquired perfectly legally. As I understand it, it is the money that is being punished for criminal activity, not the owner of the money.

From the London Sunday Times:

Garden guerrillas go to war on the gnome front
by Kirsty Lang

THE kidnappers pounce without warning, striking terror into suburban France. Their victims reappear far from home, abandoned in dense woodland or floating down rivers on rafts.

Last Friday, however, four members of the Gnome Liberation Front (GLF) were brought before a crowded courtroom in Bithune, northern France, to answer more than 150 charges of seizing garden gnomes, a miniature tea set and windmill, and a plastic toadstool.

Their lawyers defended their cause with passion. "Your honour, have you never heard the cries of anguished garden gnomes screaming with cold and the indignity of being treated as lamp posts by passing dogs?" said Bruno Dubout, a defence advocate, his face red with suppressed laughter. He suggested the word "gnome" was politically incorrect and should be replaced by "vertically challenged figurine".

The prosecutor refused to be diverted. "We are discussing stolen objects and the violation of people's gardens," she reminded the court sternly, demanding that the GLF leaders be sentenced to 80 hours' community service with the forestry commission. "This is a free country and people should have the right to keep gnomes even if others consider it to be in bad taste." The case was adjourned for two weeks.

Although the judge struggled to keep a straight face, the 10 victims of the new-wave terrorists were not amused. "This is nothing but a show trial," cried Louis Maille, a retired supermarket security guard. "Next time someone tries to steal my gnomes I won't bother going to the police. I'll be ready with my shotgun."

Maille demanded compensation of #500 for the loss of 10 gnomes. When the judge challenged the figure, he explained that they were "deluxe, glass-fibre gnomes" from Belgium.

Hundreds of people have fallen foul of the GLF, which was initially set up last year by a group of art students in Normandy as a "protest against bad taste", but prompted copy-cat raids throughout much of the country. GLF attack squads leave calling cards informing targets: "Your gnomes have now been liberated so they can live in peace in the forest."

Until the "Bithune Four" were captured last August, members had evaded detection. The Alengon branch in Normandy even held a press conference with their faces obscured by balaclavas. "We mean no harm to gnome owners," they explained solemnly. "We just feel these little creatures would be happier in their natural habitat instead of being imprisoned behind a garden fence."

The founder of the GLF, an elusive figure known only as "Le Prof", his nom de guerre, said last week he had become disturbed by the recent invasion of garden gnomes imported from Germany and Britain.

Speaking from a telephone box at an undisclosed location, he said: "Gnomes are the ultimate symbol of bad taste and kitsch. I find them offensive to my visual sensibilities." He admitted he had been surprised at the way the movement had taken off. "We obviously struck a nerve in France," he said.

So widespread are the GLF's operations now that many owners have been forced to bring their gnomes indoors at night or to buy guard dogs to protect them. Some have even organised themselves into gnome defence associations.

"The police don't take this issue seriously. This is not about liberation, it's about theft," complained Corinne Helga, of the Friends of Garden Gnomes Association in Strasbourg. Helga, a songwriter, has formed a pop group called the Gnomes which has made two singles singing their praises.

"Our aim is not to make money, but to make gnome owners more assertive and proud of their hobby," said Helga, who has 20 gnomes and a magic grotto in her garden. "I don't understand why they attract all this hatred. Gnomes are kind protectors of the earth."

Fritz Friedmann, of the International Association for the Protection of Garden Gnomes, based in Basel, Switzerland, believes the anti-gnome sentiment in France is a deeply sinister development. "The Nazis were the first people who tried to ban gnomes, but as soon as the second world war was over, people rushed out to buy them again," said Friedmann, 80, who publishes the Gnome Gazette.

French commentators have seized earnestly on the phenomenon as a manifestation of growing class divisions. "This is about the ruling classes having fun at the expense of working people," said Jean-Claude Kaufmann, a sociologist. Jean-Yves Jouannais, an art critic, has devoted an entire book to the subject of class, taste and the garden gnome.

Le Prof, however, vehemently denies being a member of the sneering classes. "There are several members from working-class backgrounds in the Gnome Liberation Front," he said. There is also a chubby skeleton in his closet: "My own parents have a gnome in their garden," he revealed, "which I've painted green and gold to make it look less offensive."

Much to the chagrin of Le Prof, the publicity generated by the GLF has prompted a sharp rise in the sale of garden gnomes in France.

A spokesman for Gardena France, the gnome market leader, said its sales had increased tenfold. "It's all very depressing," admitted Le Prof. "People just haven't got the point."

Friday, October 31, 1997

Today's LA Times has a story about the massive increase in deportations of aliens since last year. They don't bother doing the math, so I had to: for the increase in Nigerian 25-year olds with 15 years of residence in the US deported for joy-riding, not to mention all those druggies, divided into the increase in the bits of the INS budget for deportation & incarceration, we are paying $6,315 for each new deportation. But the largest part of the increase is in non-criminals being deported.

Thursday, October 30, 1997

A new batch of Nixon tapes is out. Check out the Washington Post coverage in today's paper, an article on the front page & several more in the A section. Most amusing comparison with current scandals is that N. personally thanked a Greek tycoon--in the Oval Office--for providing hush money for the plumbers, but there is also info on his shake down of the milk industry (his phrase, by the way) and the exact price tag on ambassadorships.

Orrin Hatch puts a "hold" on nominee to head Justice Dept's civil rights division. Well first, can we knock off the Senatorial hostage-taking already? One reason this obnoxious tactic is so over-used is that the name of the senator doing it is only released if s/he feels like it. About this one, Hatch wants a promise that there will be no court challenge to the California anti-affirmative action proposition. This is especially obnoxious because he is not trying to change a political policy, but a constitutional interpretation.

About the line-item veto: isn't the whole point of the thing to force Congress to vote on their pork on an individual basis? Then why is it that the Senate just voted to overturn Clinton's veto of the 38 items in the military building bill as a group, instead of individually? Doesn't that just allow the same old horse-trading

Wednesday, October 29, 1997

Zambia thwarts one of the sillier coup attempts of recent years, by a "Captain Solo" who was told by an angel to stamp out corruption.

Afghanistan is now an emirate. Thought you'd want to know.

In one of those jokes-made-real news stories, an Australian lawyer escapes a shark attack.

Saudi Arabia says that consulting fortune-tellers and practicing witchcraft constitute polytheism, which is punishable by death (what isn't in Saudi?)

Sunday, October 26, 1997

But Chelsea gets to go to Stanford

Lee Hoi Chang was once considered the front-runner for South Korea's December presidential elections. Then it was discovered that both of his sons evaded the draft, seemingly, by losing a lot of weight--a lot--before they were called up. Now, in atonement, Lee has sent the oldest son (34) to work at a leper colony.

Friday, October 24, 1997

Clinton proposes to let the market and tax incentives take care of carbon emissions. The tax breaks would be enough for everyone in America to buy one-fourth of a high-efficiency light bulb per year.

The drug kaiser visits Colombia, whose military chief then announces that he was given permission to use American anti-drug aid to fight the guerillas. No he wasn't, says the drug emperor. What sort of conversation do you suppose it was where that sort of misapprehension could arise?

Pol Pot, who knows more about skulls than any man alive, says that those piles of bones everywhere were planted by the Vietnamese. You can tell because Cambodians, evidently, have bigger heads.

A man released by DNA evidence from an 11-year imprisonment for a rape he did not commit, who got $1.5 million in damages, has been convicted by DNA evidence of rape. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

Thursday, October 23, 1997

Vietnam, under the mistaken impression that it is Sweden, bans toy weapons.

So "Candle in the Wind" has outsold "We are the World" 5:1, showing the relative value of a million starving Africans versus one bulimic princess.

Tuesday, October 21, 1997

In Italy, the series of earthquakes around Assissi has been taken by some as the beginning of the end of the world. Today the Vatican responded by saying that the Third Secret of Fatima has nothing to do with the millennium. It seems that Mary showed up in Fatima, Portugal in 1917, and revealed some stuff, including that Russia had to be won back from the godless commies. The Church, and especially this pope, takes this crap very seriously. The bullet from when he was shot is in Fatima, in the shrine on the Virgin's crown, which you'd think would be weird even to Catholics, but there you go.

Turkey outlaws virginity tests of women.

NATO shut down Serb tv for, what, the 4th time? Displaying its usual impeccable timing, it strikes during 1,001 Dalmatians.

The NY Times has an editorial on why the Republicans' dumb idea of the week is dumb. This is the idea of putting the burden of proof in IRS cases that go to court on the IRS rather than the taxpayer. Now, the taxpayers have the relevant paperwork, so they provide it. If the IRS has to, it will go on massive fishing expeditions through their victims' finances. Also, compliance with taxes will go way down, but that was obvious.

The Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge to Texas's death penalty law, under which jurors cannot be told the definition of the alternative, that life imprisonment means at least 40 years before parole. Indeed, they are instructed not to consider or discuss the issue. This is also a state that does not have the option of life without possibility of parole. Imagine designing your system to force ignorant jurors to choose death.

No distributor in Hong Kong has picked up the films Seven Years in Tibet or Kundun (Martin Scorcese's film about the Dalai Lama).

Speaking of authoritarian states (China, Texas and the IRS), this is from the North Korean press service web site:

Wonderful natural phenomena on Mt. Paektu

Pyongyang, October 20 (KCNA) -- Wonderful natural phenomena have been witnessed on Mt. Paektu, the time-honored place of the revolution, in Korea. It was dawn on September 21 when the South Phyongan Provincial Party Conference was held to discuss the agenda item on recommending General Kim Jong Il as General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea. The day before, it snowed and rained on Mt. Paektu as usual till mid-day. In the evening, its temperature abruptly increased more than 10 degrees centigrade higher than the average. And the northwestern wind and northeastern wind, the typical winds on Mt. Paektu, disappeared and the southwestern wind blew. At night, high and low clouds completely disappeared. As the new day was breaking, the eastern sky of orange and yellowish brown colors turned red and a bright sun rose above Mt. Paektu. This grandiose sunrise continued several days. Meteorological observations in this area say that on Mt. Paektu, the sunrise has never occurred for three consecutive days, it showered in the dry season, the sun rose in the rainy season and that cloud and sunshine appeared by turns every one or three days and even hourly. However, in the emotional period when the great general Kim Jong Il was elected as General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, the sunrise continued for 25 consecutive days, spreading grandiose landscape. A more mysterious natural phenomenon was observed on the afternoon of October 8. At around 05:10 when the special communique informed the people of the election of general Kim Jong Il as General Secretary of the WPK, a colored cloud appeared on Mt. Paektu. This cloud slowly moved from the sky above Janggun Peak toward the Hyangdo Peak. The ground color of the cloud of big parachute type was white and its rims were dyed with seven colors. It was all the more wonderful that the cloud stayed low above Hyangdo Peak for a long time before moving toward Janggun Peak. The moment, mysterious sounds reminiscent of cheers and applause came from surface of Lake Chon and time before moving toward Janggun Peak. The moment, mysterious sounds reminiscent of cheers and applause came from surface of Lake Chon and a strong whirlwind rose which carried piles of snow into the sky and dropped them onto the ground, adorning the sky on Mt. Paektu in various colors. Witnessing these wonderful natural phenomena, its inhabitants said that nature also celebrated Kim Jong Il's election as WPK General Secretary.

Saturday, October 18, 1997

Believe it or not, everyone, I was woken up by a dream about sheep coming in through my front door. When the third one came in, I woke up. I never knew before that it worked in reverse.

Clinton is claiming executive privilege, always a bad sign, to cover up the thing where some Chippewa tribes gave the Democrats $300,000 to get a casino license turned down for their rivals in Wisconsin. This one bears watching, since it's the only instance I've seen so far in all this campaign contribution nonsense in which someone actually got something concrete in return for money.

The Russian Duma is busy holding a beauty contest for its female MPs. If we did here, would DiFi have to wear a one-piece or a two-piece bathing suit? The horror, the horror.

Saudi Arabia is once again proudly putting its justice system on display, trying a whole family of Pakistani heroin smugglers. They say the 8 year old probably won't be executed once convicted, but the 13 year old...

Thursday, October 16, 1997

Follow that car!

Israel releases I believe 9 (7?) more Palestinians as part of its deal with Jordan. You still don't see much in the American press about the other people it's releasing to placate the lunatic right. Most recently, the guy who shot up the al-Aqsa mosque in 1982, resulting in many deaths in the weeks of rioting that followed, not to mention his own kills. Like Baruch Bernstein, this guy is a hero to the religious loons and said a couple of years ago, "Why should I be sorry, I didn't kill Jews, right?"

Well, now we know what abnormality Clinton's "little Mister President" is supposed to have, a fairly rare disease resulting in a bend. You can't get more appropriate than that. Of course, the medical exam Paula Jones's lawyers filed for won't detect anything without an actual erection. How'd you like to write that brief?

I wish to salute the guys who hit Mach I in a for chrissake car! I want one of those for my birthday.

Wednesday, October 15, 1997

In the big news of the week, Nevis legislators have voted to secede from St. Kitts.

The Times says that the federal program to help indigent AIDS victims pay for drugs is broke in 26 states. The villain: those protease inhibitors which 1) are expensive, 2) keep people alive and sucking on the federal teat for so much longer.

Hospitals affiliated with the Catholic church are now responsible for 1/6 of hospital admissions in this country, and more and more hospitals are merging or affiliating with each other so that they can specialize and be in a better bargaining position with the HMOs. Unfortunately, this means that the church has more and more power over reproductive health.

Tuesday, October 14, 1997

Tue, 14 Oct 1997

Can you believe that Clinton never went to South America before this week? Just shows how important that free trade treaty must be to him. Fortunately for the American economy, his government's incompetence probably killed it dead. The head of Brazil's supreme court refused to meet him because of embassy comments about the inefficiency of the Brazilian court system. The Commerce Dept chose now to issue a guide for American business referring to endemic corruption in Brazil, and the White House briefing memo to the press corps helpfully pointed out that Sao Paulo is one of the most dangerous cities in the world and that people have sex in cars during traffic jams. Clinton's security people tried to get them to stop all the trains, cut down the trees around the palace where he would be staying, oh, and suspend daylight savings time.

It's sort of a tradition, isn't it, these South American tours? Remember Dan Quayle's little Erection Eric doll, or VP Nixon covered in fruit, or Reagan exclaiming amazedly that they were really all different countries and not one big banana plantation?

There's a moderately disturbing story in the Tuesday Washington Post that Virginia tv stations have decided not to sell ads to candidates for certain state offices. They're legally required to sell ads to people running for the federal Congress and for president, and at the cheapest rates too, but have decided that cheap ads for state offices just cost them money and disrupt their regular advertisers. So they have, pretty much all, decided to restrict or eliminate ad sales or not charge the discounted rate. Right now this seems like a blow to the democratic process, but my views might be different if there were any political ads on my television.

Edgar Mitchell, who evidently was an astronaut and the sixth man on the moon (like most of America, I'll just have to take his word for it), has announced his belief that aliens did crash land, that the US is covering it up and using alien technology, and there should be a congressional investigation.

The truth is out there!

Another congressional investigation, I'd rather have an alien invasion. They're now threatening to hold an investigation to investigate Janet Reno's investigation.

Hey, let's all be the first to start the rumor that John Denver is really still alive, flipping burgers with Elvis.

Sunday, October 12, 1997

It's amusing to read the New York Times boasting an FBI report that its burglary rate is now lower than that of London, and the Telegraph riposting that its murder rate is still ten times as high.

Another quote from that Groucho Marx letter:
"Apparently there is more than one way of conquering a city and holding it as your own. For example, up the time that we contemplating making a picture, I had no idea that the city of Casablanca belonged to Warner Brothers..."
"It seems that in 1471, Ferdinand Balboa Warner, the great-grandfather of Harry and Jack, while looking for a shortcut to the city of Burbank, had stumbled on the shores of Africa and, raising his alpenstock, which he later turned in for a hundred shares of the common, he named it Casablanca."


A piece in the Sunday Washington Post says that in the Israeli post-mortem on the attempted assassination, no mainstream politician or columnist has questioned Israel's right to assassinate whoever it wants.

For 3 days over Rosh Hashanah, an Israeli prison "forgot" to feed Rabin's assassin.

The Malaysian Prime Minister says that the ringgit's financial woes have been caused by a Jewish conspiracy to speculate against the currencies of Islamic countries. Maybe it's just that no one could say "That's be ten ringgits, please" without giggling.

Right after a story in the Daily Telegraph about a marriage councillor who said that divorce is inevitable if the husband rolls his eyes while the wife is talking, and names 3 other similar signs, there's this story, showing a sign the doc forgot:

Ugandan accused of cannibalism by wife

Saturday, October 11, 1997

Values

George Bush, the Texan governor following in his father's footsteps as a Republican presidential prospect, is well ahead in opinion polls. But Don Sipple, his campaign adviser, has been accused of wife-beating by both his former wives. In last year's presidential campaign, Sipple created the Republican adverts that proclaimed: "It all comes down to values."

More from the Duh Files / The Germans wore gray, you wore a horn

Kenneth Starr announced today, after years of investigation, that Vince Foster was depressed when he committed suicide.

When the Marx Brothers were making A Night in Casablanca, Warner Brothers complained, considering that they held the monopoly to the city of Casablanca. Groucho responded in a letter to Warner "Even if they plan on re-releasing the picture, I am sure that the average movie fan could learn to distinguish between Ingrid Bergman and Harpo. I don't know whether I could, but I would like to try."

Casablanca if the Marx Brothers starred in it:

"Play it, Sam." "Hey, thassa no good, boss."

"Mrs. Rittenhouse, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. You did say you were rich, didn't you?"

"Deutschland, Deutschland, uber alles..." "Allons enfants de la patrie..."
"Hail, hail, Freedonia..."

I tried to do something with "I'm shocked, shocked to hear that there is gambling going on", but it seemed already to be a perfect Groucho line without any alterations.

Friday, October 10, 1997

A bite out of crime

Important news from China: they just made a noodle a mile and a half long. Also, Disney has hired Henry Kissinger to ease its troubled diplomatic relations with China. That's the set-up, but I'm ashamed to say I haven't been able to come up with a good joke about it.

Thursday, October 09, 1997

The Chicago City Council absolves Mrs O'Leary's cow. The long persecution is over.

Under Haiti's penal code, Zombification is considered murder.

If Netanyahu is so eager to take responsibility for the assassination attempt, why were they using a nerve toxin designed to make the Hamas guy sicken and die, rather than, oh, say, shooting him?

Anglia University has a student taking a degree in harmonica studies.

Tuesday, October 07, 1997

Tue, 7 Oct 1997

Latest items on the Taliban's (that's Pushtu for "Promise Keepers") no-no list: photographs or other representations of humans or animals. Yup, they're planning on taking away teddy bears.

A man who left the French National Front a few months ago is found dead with five gunshot wounds. The state prosecutor insists it was suicide.

The newspapers are claiming that the most important case on the Supreme Court's docket is Paskataway, wherein a white teacher rather than a black teacher was laid off, despite theoretically equal qualifications (actually the black was more qualified, but what the hell. Scopes never really taught evolution in 1925, it's the legal theory that counts). The Justice Dept under Bush sided with the white, reversed under Clinton, then reversed again. Which would be ok if it were just a question of friend of the court briefs, but it's not. Justice actually acted as one of this guy's lawyers, was privy to strategy, and then changed sides.

Best headline of the week: "Uneasy Lies the Head, in a Bank Vault, for Now".

From the more than we needed to know file, in a Post article about the LBJ
tapes:
After outlining the qualities he expected, Johnson said of Humphrey, in a typical LBJ turn of phrase, "And if he don't want to be my wife, he oughtn't marry me."

How happy a warrior was Hubert, anyway? Ya know, in the 1990s, there wouldn't be any question that a couple named "Hubert" and "Lyndon" were gay.

Sunday, October 05, 1997

From the "No shit, Sherlock" files

Associated Press
Sunday, October 5, 1997
The Washington Post

Within days of selecting Dan Quayle for the 1988 vice presidential nomination, George Bush wrote in his diary: "I blew it."

Thursday, October 02, 1997

So let's see if I've got this straight. Israel released the founder of Hamas from prison on humanitarian grounds, but it was actually to secure the release of two of its agents from Jordan, where they had attempted to assassinate another leader of Hamas, using some sort of poison and some sort of delivery system that have never been seen before. To keep it secret for a couple of days, they did it right at the start of Rosh Hashana, and to keep the right-wing loons happy they pardoned four Israelis in jail for killing Arabs. Right.

A new book by a Washington Post reporter says that the US almost went to war with North Korea in 1994 over its nuclear program.

In other news, the next head of the Air Force was grounded from flying a plane 6 years ago, because he wasn't very good at it.

The world's shortest man died in Delhi, at the age of either 36 (London Times) or 40 (Daily Telegraph), although they agree on the relevant figure: 22 1/2 inches. He mostly begged, and hung out with eunuchs.

Britain is thinking about revoking the death penalty for piracy and raping the Queen.

Tuesday, September 30, 1997

According to Forbes, the US now has 170 billionaires, up from 13 in 1982. Of course that was when a billion was really a billion. The price of medium-sized countries has become so unreasonable.

Bill Gates has surpassed the Sultan of Brunei to become the world's richest asshole.

Although the US never warned people in the 1950s not to drink milk after nuclear tests, knowing the dangers, it seems that it did give advanced warnings to Kodak, because the tests were screwing up film.

The editor of Ronald Reagan's memoirs says that Reagan tried to omit all references to his first wife. After intense lobbying, he allowed the ghost writer to insert 4 lines.

A German court just convicted a Bosnian Serb of genocide. O Germany, land of irony!

Thursday, September 25, 1997

Not rocket scientists

Muslim youths protest lunar eclipse
LAGOS, Nigeria (Reuter) - Gangs of Muslim youths paraded through the streets of a northern Nigerian city to protest an eclipse of the moon, saying it was caused by "sins of infidels," newspapers said Thursday.

Wednesday, September 24, 1997

In olden days a glimpse of stocking...


The latest on the official list of Taliban no-no's: white socks on women. Sexually provocative. If you live in a cave, I guess.

Those two Iraqis who had marriages arranged in Nebraska with a 13 yr old & a 14 yr old, were sentenced to 4 to 6 years for sexual abuse. By that time, their brides will be legal.

Speaking of sex, Tory party leader William Jefferson Hague will attend the Tory party conference next month with his girlfriend---in the same hotel room. Some Tories inc Thatcher are not happy about it.

Everyone will be please to hear that Peru's First Gastronomic Festival of the Cat has been canceled. It would have been exactly what it sounds like.

The LA Times today says that top Republicans in the state legislature were in on a plan to run a fake Democrat as a spoiler in the by-election to replace former speaker Doris Allen.

The European Court of Human Rights decided that Britain violated the rights of a couple by its courts taking 4 years and 2 months to settle a dispute on legal costs. The European Court made this decision in only 4 years and 6 months.

Poland can't decide whose ass to kiss these days. NATO just told it to scrap 2 arms deals worth $700 million with Israel because the equipment would not be compatible with NATO hardware. But Poland had only made the contract in the first place to placate the American Jewish lobby.

Tuesday, September 16, 1997

The headline of the day, from the LA Times: “2 Men Convicted of Smuggling Live Snakes in Their Underwear.”

Hey, the LAPD just bought 600 M16 assault weapons. That's what LA needed, bigger guns for the cops. The NYPD just bought 600 new toilet plungers.

According to Mother Jones, there was a law 1969-91 subjecting astronauts who met an alien and then violated NASA quarantine to fines of $5,000 and a 1-year prison term.

Before the Bosnian local elections, a Norwegian judge overseeing them tried to disqualify a slate of Serbs for continuing associations with Karadzic, only to be overruled by an American who decided that possible risk to the American (and European) election observers was more of an issue than following the election rules. As he said, we don't actually expect a free, fair or democratic election. Robert Frowick, an ex-diplomat. Does anyone know where that name is familiar from?

The quote of the day is Trent Lott, responding to Dem. allegations that Repubs are trying to intimidate federal judges, "I don't know of anything of that nature, but it sounds like a good idea to me."

Monday, September 15, 1997

There was an interesting story in the Sunday NY Times about some Orthodox Jew in NY who got off light on a charge of insurance fraud because his rabbi wrote that he really had to be around to arrange his sons' marriages. Presumably he will also have to hire a match-maker to pick out someone whose bitch he will be for the next year and a half.

Saturday, September 13, 1997

2 items from the Sunday Telegraph make me wish I could trust it enough to know how seriously to take them: one said that one of the witnesses against Winnie Mandela for killing little Stompie was removed from the country and imprisoned without trial for some years in Zambia, at the request of Nelson Mandela. The other said that the Serbs agreed not to boycott yesterday's local elections in Bosnia as part of a deal by which enough extra voters were suddenly "discovered" to have been left off the election roles in Brcko for the Serbs to be able to hold the town.

And from the Village Voice: "After seeing Titanic, the musical, I'd rather go down on Hitler than on that ship."

Also a story in the Telegraph which says that in Western India, dinosaur eggs are worshipped as Shiva's testicles. Like the cow thing wasn't strange enough.

Friday, September 12, 1997

Quotes of the day

Jesse Helms, the king of ideological extortion, says "I do not yield to ideological extortion."

Boris Yeltsin says that more than 1/3 of the vodka sold in Russia is unfit for human consumption. I believe this counts as the straight line of the year.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin says that mass unemployment is a fair price for privatization. Evidently jobs-for-life is over, says Mr. Jiang, who turned 143 this week.

Here's the perfect set-up for a joke or a letter to Penthouse or something: one of a pair of twin MPs in the British Parliament, Angela Eagle, a junior environment minister, comes out as a lesbian.

Speaking of ideological extortion, Jesse Helms wrote a bit of the Foreign Relations funding bill that gives first crack at frozen Iraqi funds, not to Gulf War vets hurt by chemical weapons, or the Commodity Credit Corps, which lost $2.5 billion in loan guarantees, but private corporations, notably 7 tobacco companies. (This story, by the way, was broken by USA Today a couple of days ago and hasn't made it into either the Post or the NY Times yet).

Tuesday, September 09, 1997

Clinton's insurance, more

A Washington Post article in Wednesday's paper goes a little ways towards answering my question of yesterday about what sort of insurance covers sexual harassment lawsuits. Evidently, it's a pesonal liability umbrella that is standard in homeowner's insurance. This would be clearer if Clinton had actually owned a home when he was governor, but the Post seems to have forgotten that he didn't.

There are other disturbing elements in the article. For example, State Farm & Chubb, the 2 insurance companies involved, seem to have given him money that mere mortals would not have gotten. For example, sexual harassment or, more generically, intentional acts, are usually excluded from such coverage, and are from the policies he held. Also, he didn't go after the money until 3 years after he was legally bound to inform his insurance companies. Also, they don't just let you hire any lawyer you want and pay him $400 an hour. Well, they're pulling out now, but they seem to me to have given Clinton $1.4 million out of the goodness of their hearts. Some people would consider this an illegal contribution.
A headline in the Telegraph says "EU Bans Dangerous Iranian Nuts". Pistachios, as it turns out.

A guy who had his hand in a sock because he was changing a tire and pointed it at cops who showed up was shot 23 times. He's suing. This was Miami, of course.

In South Africa, the National Party shows the acumen that kept them in power so long by electing as a new leader to replace the retiring F W DeKlerk a 37-year old for that Tony Blair effect, someone who wasn't even in parliament when apartheid was around. Except it turns out that as a student he ran a group as a front for military intelligence, of which he was a paid secret agent. The party found this out before choosing him, I might add.

The Los Angeles Board of Education bans school mascots referring to Indigenous Persons (that's the Berkeley term, I noticed last week when I was checking the meter to make sure that Labor Day was a meter holiday. Of course they had to put Columbus Day in parentheses, because who would know when Indigenous Persons Day is). So the Braves of Van Nuys (you can just see them at the mall asking for a heap big frozen yogurt), the Mohicans of Gardena HS and two sets of Warriors have to change their name. The Braves pointed out that there are also 4 mascots named after a condom (Trojan, presumably--which was the case in my HS, I believe).

Monday, September 08, 1997

Dumb as a potato

Helen Chenoweth (R-Idaho) says the US Forest Service shouldn't recruit minorities in Idaho: "The warm-climate community just hasn't found the colder climate that attractive. It's an area of America that has simply never attracted the Afro-American or the Hispanic."

Another story on the Paula Jones case mentions that some of Clinton's legal bills are being picked up by his insurance (although he just lost one policy, since he got the defamation charge dismissed), but I'm still waiting for an explanation of what sort of insurance covers charges of sexual harassment. If anybody knows, pray enlighten me. And no Kennedy jokes, it's too obvious even for you, Kevin.

Tomorrow's (Tuesday's) Washington Post also has an interesting story about certain environmental groups embracing the free market, at least to the extent of bidding for US land currently being rented at a huge loss to cattle & sheep ranchers. Idaho in particular is fighting this, turning down $2,000 offers from environmentalists in favor of $10 bids from ranchers. Groups are making bids for land held by the family of Interior Sec Bruce Babbitt, the founders of Hewlett-Packard, and other people who really don't require subsidies.

The United Arab Emirates, bastion of compassion, orders the execution of two men by public crucifixion, followed after a day by a firing squad.

Saturday, September 06, 1997

Here's a heartwarmer: 16 Orthodox rabbis file a lawsuit to block the opening of a Holocaust museum in NY, because it will mention homosexuals. By the way, is everyone aware that the Allies didn't actually release the homosexuals held in the camps?

A few days ago I mentioned some bounty hunters in Arizona who killed a couple after breaking into a home. It seems that they weren't actually working for any bail bondsmen, and may just have used the papers in case they got caught breaking into people's homes. They could always claim that they had a legal right to break into people's homes in ski masks with weapons. Only 3 states actually require bounty hunters to have licenses.

You can guess what's playing on the tv as I write this. Someone should tell the Brits that you're not supposed to clap at a funeral.

Or do the wave.

Friday, September 05, 1997


If it weren't for the ongoing Saint Diana of Bulimia story, more attention would have been paid to the unveiling of the Willie Hortons of the 2000 campaign, a bunch of bald bespectacled Buddhist babes. They will be back, reincarnating their way into our hearts.

I promise not to use alliteration again for the rest of this post.

So what about Saint Diana of Gucci, you ask? Well, the tabloids' new-found collective commitment to privacy lasted a day and a half, but no one seems to have noticed the irony of the increasingly strident demands for the royal family to "Show Us You Care" (The Express). Nope, no contradiction there.

As for the photographers, well, how much assistance do you ever expect from photojournalists? As Alexander Cockburn comments in Salon, people win awards for taking photographs of starving Ethiopian children, who'd probably rather have a piece of bread than their picture taken. The same could be said for war correspondents.

As for the idea that no one wants to see the photographs of the wreck, yeah right. The last time I went to Disneyland, there was a major slowdown on the freeway a mile or two away, which turned out to be a car pulled over to the side of the road. More people had slowed down to see a minor accident involving people they didn't know than were lined up for It's a Small World. And that's the business we call show.

Thursday, September 04, 1997

Paparrazi with oil paints and canvas?

In a piece on celebrity inspired by Saint Diana of Harrods, the NY Times informs us that John Quincy Adams exercised by swimming naked in the Potomac every morning, undisturbed. Hope Clinton doesn't get any ideas from this.

According to the London Times, Arabs all over the world believe in Qadaffi's theory that St. Di was assassinated because the British establishment couldn't bear the thought of her marrying a wog. This is the same Qadaffi who once suggested paving over relations with the US by his marrying Chelsea.

The British Sun-reading public won't be satisfied until Chuck spends the rest of his life like Victoria after the death of Albert, dressing in black and never going out in public.

Tuesday, September 02, 1997

The US is appealing the decision of an immigration judge to grant political asylum to a Thai Buddhist monk who the Thais previously asked to be extradited on charges of insulting church and government leaders and wearing monk's robes. Nope, no possibility of persecution there.

In Arizona, a bunch of men wearing ski masks and carrying guns broke into a home, shot a man and his wife, tied up someone else, all in front of 3 children. They were bounty hunters. In AZ, anyone can bounty hunt, without a permit, and are allowed to break down doors and use guns, although killing people is frowned upon. Incidentally, and you knew this was coming, they were in the wrong house.

Biljana Plavsic, the president of the Bosnian Serbs whom the US is supporting for no very good reason except that she isn't Karadzic, has founded a new party and promised to emulate King Peter, who came to the throne in 1903 after his immediate predecessor was dragged out of a cupboard, chopped into bits, and defenestrated.

Friday, August 29, 1997

The Jewish gang problem in Alabama

A piece in today's NY Times on my favorite wacky governor Fob James led me to check the Alabama ACLU site, where I found the following:

Jewish Parents Sue Alabama School System For Persecuting Their Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 14, 1997

MONTGOMERY, AL -- The Jewish parents of four public school students have sued an Alabama school system for violating their children's religious freedom, citing dozens of incidents when students, teachers and school officials persecuted their children for being Jews.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, which represents the family, argues that the Pike County School Board and administrators violated the constitutional right of the students to freely excercise their religion. In addition, the lawsuit says the district failed to stop the harassment, intimidation and threats to the students because of their religion and violated the constitutional prohibition against government endorsement of religion.

The lawsuit, filed August 4th in U. S. District Court for the Middle District in Alabama, was brought on behalf of the children of Sue and Wayne Willis of Pike County. Mr. and Mrs. Willis are Jewish and are raising their children in the Jewish faith.

The Willis children attend Pike County Elementary and Pike County High School. Over the last several years, the lawsuit says, their religious faith has been denigrated repeatedly by teachers, administrators and students. They have been denied the right to practice their faith while other students freely practice theirs. They have been denied the right to express their religious beliefs while repeatedly being forced to participate in overtly Christian assemblies and classroom activities.

The lawsuit further charges that the Willis children have also been the victims of religious bigotry and anti-Semitic hate crimes at the hands of other students. Faculty, adminstrators and school board members have done nothing to stop this persecution.

Mr. and Mrs. Willis have taken their concerns and complaints to all levels of school personnel and the school board during the last few years. Their efforts have been in vain. In response to a complaint from Mrs. Willis in April of this year, Superintendent John Key suggested that the continual harassment would end if the Willis family would convert to Christianity.

One teacher, in response to Mrs. Willis' plea, explained "If parents will not save souls, we have to."

The following are examples of the religious persecution suffered by the Willis children and the entanglement of the Pike County school system with religion. Included in the lawsuit are:

* The Willis children were forbidden to wear Star of David lapel pins. The teacher claimed the Star of David was a gang symbol. Other children in class were wearing crosses.
* The Willis children were forbidden to participate in physical education class while wearing their yarmulkes.
* Two of the Willis children have been physically assaulted by their classmates because of their religion. On one occasion one of the children was beaten by five or six other students.
* Swastikas have been drawn on their lockers, bookbags and jackets. Their yarmulkes, worn on High Holy Days, have been ripped off their heads and used to play "keep away."
* The children are constantly taunted with jeers such as "Jew boys" and "Jewish jokers." These verbal assaults are particularly venomous after blatantly Christian assemblies. Teachers and administrators have done nothing meaningful to stop these acts of cruelty and threats to physically safety, although they have repeatedly been made aware of them.
* The Willis children were ordered by teachers to bow their heads during Christian prayers, even though the teachers knew the children were Jewish. On at least one occasion a teacher physically forced one of the children to bow his head during the delivery of a prayer in an assembly. The prayer was explicitly Christian. The teacher knew the child was Jewish.
* A vice principal disciplined one Willis child for disrupting class by requring him to compose an essay on the subject "Why Jesus Loves Me."
* One Willis child was sent to wait in the hall during the distribution of Gideon bibles. Classmates called the child names as she left the room. A Gideon representative tried to force the child to take a copy of the Gideon bible and held a cross in front of her face when she explained she did not want one because she was Jewish. The child ran screaming back into the classroom, asking her teacher for help. The teacher did nothing.
* Religious, overtly Christian, classroom activities and assembly presentations are common in the Pike County system. Events like "Birth of Jesus" plays at assembly and "Happy Birthday Jesus" parties in classrooms make the Willis children feel like second-class citizens.
* One local minister, brought in to make a presentation at a school assembly, told the students that anyone who had not accepted Jesus as his or her Savior was doomed to hell. The Willis child in the audience left to jeers from her classmates. She suffered nightmares for weeks.

"These harmful and hateful acts are the product of a culture of religious bigotry which permeates the Pike County school system," said ACLU of Alabama cooperating attorney Pamela Sumners. "They have been perpetrated or tacitly endorsed by the very officials who are duty-bound to operate our schools in a manner which comports with the Constitution and morally bound to operate the schools so that all children are treated equally and with respect."

As Mrs. Willis explained in papers filed with the court, "Every day that I send my children to Pike County schools, I wonder if I am sending them into a war zone. Every day that I send my children to Pike County schools, I feel that the environment threatens every value that my husband and I have tried to teach them at home. I have asked school officials how I can teach my children to be tolerant human beings and not bigots when they are subjected to outright religious persecution and bigotry in school."

The Willis family asked the court to declare that school officials must recognize their right to freely exercise their religion and that school officials have a duty to protect students from harassment and threats based on religious animus. They have also asked the court to preliminarily and permanently enjoin the defendants from creating an establishment of religion.

The case is Paul Michael Herring v. Dr. John Key, Superintendent of Pike County Schools.

Copyright 1997, The American Civil Liberties Union

Sunday, August 24, 1997

Interesting series beginning today in the LA Times on the failure of laws to control assault weapons. The first one is a little long to send out (3K) but I'll keep it and the subsequent articles around for a week or so and send them out to anyone who missed them. It says that legislators (federal and California) failed to write legislation that would outlaw copycat weapons, so some weapons are sold after major changes like taking the bayonet off or changing the name. Right, changing the name of a gun can make it legal to sell. Also, they refused to ban the most popular weapons, figuring they had too large a constituency. Weapons manufactured before the laws went into effect are allowed to be sold, so the companies worked up a massive stockpile, and items like large-capacity gun clips are imported from other countries, so that no one can prove they weren't made before the law went into effect.

Also a story about the Mexican national who was released from Texas prison after 14 years on death row because the police pressured witnesses, found himself a national hero in Mexico, appeared in a soap opera...and crashed his car killing himself 4 months after he got out of prison. By the way, Rodney King is also back in jail; I think he tried to run his wife over. Some people should learn to stay away from the horseless carriage.

In 1946 Congress revoked an earlier promise by the government to pay Filipino soldiers the same benefits as American soldiers for fighting the Japanese, including the right to emigrate, GI benefits, etc. Congress said that they had been on inactive duty during the war. Half the inactive Filipinos became permanently inactive while inactively strolling through the jungles of Bataan or in inactive Japanese prisoner camps. Some of them are protesting daily in MacArthur Park in LA, which shows their bravery.

By the way, the definition of GI, my little challenge to y'all, provoked by the new Demi Moore vehicle, which by the way opened the same day I believe as the local DA in whatever hick state the Citadel is located in said that setting female recruits on fire wasn't illegal under the hazing laws. GI, as in GI Joe, is a World War II term standing for general issue. What I find fascinating is that a sarcastic, bitter term made it into general parlance without anyone seemingly knowing its origins. My Webster's gives definitions without saying what it stands for. The term is a parody of military bureaucrateze, as in "30 entrenching tools, general issue, for dirt, removal of". The idea is that generals would requisition 1,000 "general issue" soldiers, whom they would think of as generic units, and dispose of them just as offhandedly.

Friday, August 22, 1997

Here's a quote that should sell a million tickets: "Demi Moore gives the performance of her career." The horror, the horror. This is the movie for which she achieved the look Bruce has had for years. Evidently the most quotable line from this movie, which the LA & NY Times both allude to but are unable to quote, is "Suck my dick". So *that's* what she bought with the $12 million from her last movie.

By the way, if she's in the navy, why is the movie called GI Jane?

And here's our quiz of the day. Let's see who amongst you actually knows what G.I. stands for, without actually looking it up.

Monday, August 18, 1997

A new election law is passed for Hong Kong. 1/3 of the seats will represent geographical constituencies, the rest will be elected by "functional constituencies", business and professional bodies and committees of Beijing puppets. For these latter 2/3 seats, 2 million will be disenfranchised (relative to the 1995 elections), with a maximum of 200,000 voting. I think this is unique, a communist government narrowing the franchise and admitting in as many words that it is not based on the people. Also interesting, those 200,000 will be exclusively either millionaires or communists.

An old Israeli scandal is coming to the surface, although I haven't seen anything in any newspaper yet. It seems that in the late 1940s, Yemeni Jewish immigrants were told that their babies had died, and these babies were given to European Jews. 4 graves were just excavated and found to be empty.

Tuesday, August 12, 1997

Bring out your dead


We mourn today the passing of Roger L. Zeller, noted in the NYT as a "Bowling Ball Innovator" for "revolutionizing bowling ball colors."

I had clipped that for use in just such an e-mail as this one, speculating on what it would be like to be remembered for revolutionizing bowling ball colors. But then I heard of the death of the "I've fallen and I can't get up" woman. At least her family won't have to think too hard about what to put on the tombstone.

Speaking of celebrating the pathetic, Richard Holbrooke was on MacNeil-Lehrer today touting as a major breakthrough his Kissingeresque shuttle diplomacy resulting in agreement in Bosnia on the unification of area codes. No longer will they be divided on ethnic lines when making telephone calls.... Glooooory gloooooory Richard Hooooolbrooke! I have a dream.....

Monday, August 11, 1997

Bumper sticker: I'd rather be smashing imperialism. On a pretty snazzy car, I might add.

"Copland" opens this week. A movie with Robert de Niro and Sylvester Stallone in which *Stallone* gained 40 pounds for the role. I just hope he keeps the weight for Rambo IV.

I've heard tantalizing little hints for years about a colony of Germans, or perhaps a cult of Germans, or, to use the more traditional plural, a blitzkrieg of Germans, living in Chile since 1961, when its leader moved there ahead of child abuse charges related to the orphanage he ran. As is usual for cult leaders, sex with children is always a major doctrinal point, if not a sacrament. Anyway, they're currently under investigation for the disappearance of 112 Chileans. In the 1970s the secret police evidently turned political prisoners over to these Germans for interrogation. [Insert your own painfully obvious joke here]

Thursday, August 07, 1997

Happy birthday

To India and Pakistan, 50 years old. In a poll, 1/3 of Pakistanis want some sort of dictatorship and judging by past history won't have long to wait for it. One of India's provinces has as its governor the illiterate wife of a man just indicted for corruption. You don't hear that "world's largest democracy" line much anymore. And the two countries are still engaged in a border dispute over Siachen Glacier, with both sides shooting artillery at each other as they have done since 1984. Imagine a war in the Indian subcontinent in which most of the thousands of fatalities have been from frost-bite and altitude sickness.

Wednesday, August 06, 1997

Clinton as Reagan

Clinton says of the budget deal that "The sun is rising on America again." An appropriate misappropriation of Reagan's "morning in America" as he prepares to sign into law the Ronald Reagan Wet Dream Budget of 1997. He also said "I believe that together we have fulfilled the responsibility of our generation to take America into a new century." Of course we ain't there yet, but isn't it just like Billy Bob Bubba to take credit for the new century? Hey doughboy, it would actually have happened without you! Isn't there some cliche about the rooster thinking he causes the sun to rise?

The new oldest human being alive is another smoker. The woman who just died quit at 120, saying it was getting to be a habit.

Tuesday, August 05, 1997

So California failed to execute the possibly innocent guy, despite trying real hard. Next-governor Atty Gen Lungren called the 9th Circuit a "hyperactivist court". Notably, the 7-4 split was exactly along party lines. Notably also, the court's decision to cancel the execution was not based on possible innocence, which would have earned them instant reversal by a Supreme Court that couldn't care less about innocence, but on prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective counsel. But here's the important question: what happened to the last dinner? San Quentin was preparing for the execution until 6 pm, it made the dinner (Alaska King Crab, spareribs and a hot fudge sundae, one of the few sensible last dinners I've heard of) but didn't actually give it to him. I think it's the least he deserves for spending most of the day not knowing whether he was going to die that day, but who actually wound up eating this meal or did they just throw it away? Enquiring minds want to know.

Saturday, August 02, 1997


A reminder: the 8-year old Panchen Lama is still the world's youngest political prisoner.

Speaking of 8-year olds, one of those dormant Swiss bank accounts belongs to the daughter of the last King of the Sikhs, and may contain documents proving among other things that one of the crown diamonds was stolen from the Sikhs by trickery. Which wouldn't have been very hard, since the king lost his kingdom to the Brits by a treaty he was forced to sign when he was 8. He spent the rest of his life saying, "But I was only 8!"

The British do like to hold on to their grudges, don't they? They are currently ratifying an extradition treaty with Brazil evidently solely for the purpose of then demanding the return of Ronnie Biggs, who perpetrated the Great Train Robbery in 1963.

Friday, August 01, 1997

More crap snuck into the budget bill, which was not printed or put on the Internet before the Congress had to vote on it. A provision to make savings accounts for private schools tax-deductible. Like the voucher idea, but more regressive. There were a full two minutes of debate allotted to that one.

And a provision making the new cigarette taxes applicable towards the fines the tobacco companies are supposed to pay under the settlement.

Thursday, July 31, 1997

A Hong Kong court has ruled that the Chinese government's replacement of the elective council by an appointed one is not a matter subject to HK courts, which means the carefully-negotiated Basic Law is effectively null and void.

Also, I trust everyone noticed that Clinton's favorite new bragging point, health care for uninsured children, has a Republican amendment prohibiting abortion. This can have wider effects, since any health plan or HMO they'd be forced into could not offer abortion, as most insurance does.

Wednesday, July 23, 1997

California is heading towards another execution, now scheduled for August 5. My familiarity with this case isn't that great, probably because I read about it in the LA Times, whose stories all now seem to be written by Dilbertian middle management types: long on vague generalities, short on actual detail. But my impression is that the special circumstance required for a death sentence, rape, is pretty much unproven, and that the conviction in general relied a little too much on prison informants with bad track records, one of whom said the guy confessed but was innacurate on the very same facts that were misreported in the newspapers. If anyone sees something on this, please send it to me.

Alabama has been devastated by Hurricane Danny. Now if it were my home--er, trailer home (Alabama, ya know)--being destroyed, I'd prefer it to be by a hurricane with an adult name. Imagine filling out your insurance forms (again, this is hypothetical--no one in Alabama is literate) on the devastation left by Hurricane Skippy.

Follow-up: the guy who put the Hebrew curse on Rabin a month before he killed, who was convicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, was sentenced to 4 months.

Long live the dictatorship of the proletariat: judges in Hong Kong have decided that they will still be called Your Lordship.

A woman in Virginia (but from NC) was arrested after piercing the ears of a baby deer. The earrings, if you were wondering, were zircon.

Next month is California's Breast-Feeding Awareness Month. Be aware. Be very aware.

Favorite LA Times headline: Kennedy Baby Sitter Probe Dropped.

Governor Wilson has been temporarily stopped by the courts from cutting off prenatal services to illegal aliens, but is continuing his crusade to cut off their fishing licenses.

I'm beginning to catch up on the British news I missed while being Webless. The most important seems to be that Jamie Lee Curtis is now Baronness Haden-Guest. Husband Christopher Guest, of Spinal Tap, is the baron. There may be something to hereditary peerships after all.

The Taliban order women not to make so much noise when walking.

The new big thing in India: sacrificing kidnapped children to the gods.

Employees at the Eiffel Tower went on strike defending their right to be rude to foreign tourists, after one is fired for berating and manhandling a vertiginous American.

Monday, July 07, 1997

Mon, 7 Jul 1997

In March I sent out a story about a British law firm that billed the mother of a member of the firm who had hanged himself for their time in discovering the body and so on. Evidently British solicitors, unlike American lawyers, cannot get away with such lawyerliness: the firm was just dissolved by the regulatory body.

Headline from Wash Post: “South Korean President's Son Says He Took Money, Not Bribes.” So that’s all right then.

Sunday, July 06, 1997

More on Oklahoma: its obscenity law, which makes no mention of artistic merit, covers anyone *portraying* someone under 18 having sex. Let's all agree to define as obscene anyone over 30 portraying someone under 18, cancel Beverly Hills 90210, declare victory and go home.

The LAPD just had to ban another form of violence against black people, the hogtying of suspects. But according to one cop interviewed by AP, this may mean that cops will have to escalate into a higher level of force. Isn't that the LAPD motto? "Escalating to a higher level of force since 1911"

Friday, July 04, 1997

Chinese president Jiang Zemin says that the example of Hong Kong will provide "the final solution" of the Taiwan question.

Britain's largest remaining colony, by population, is Bermuda. Its largest remaining Pacific colony is Pitcairn Island, pop. 54, the one the Bounty's mutineers settled. This is also their last Pacific colony. The largest remaining colony of any power (unless you count HK as a new Chinese colony, or Tibet, or East Timor), is Puerto Rico.

The Montana Supreme Court overturns the state's ban on gay sex, passed oddly enough in 1973, under a right to privacy derived from the state const.

The California Sup Court says that juvenile felonies can count towards 3 Strikes, although it sounds like the 3rd one must be adult. This includes cases handled by juvenile courts, which means prosecutors rooting around in what were supposed to be sealed records.

Some small nations make money off of stamps. Tonga is making money from a fortunate internet nation domain: .to. It is selling sites to companies that want to be fly.to or pota.to or suchlike.

So Gerald Ford altered the description in the Warren Commission report of the wound that killed Kennedy, hell altered the location, to make sure it gibed with the magic bullet theory.

Mark Shields says that Al Gore is a heartbeat away from the vice presidency.

Tuesday, July 01, 1997

Andemus Jura Nostra Defendere

Chris asked me about a report of a man in Alabama who responded to a 20-year sentence by giving the judge the finger, and promptly had his sentence increased to life. If anyone runs across this story, which is not in the NY or LA Times or Wash Post today, please send it to me. Also, has anyone heard about this one, which I found in an archive search of the LA Times, but I can't retrieve the original story without paying $1.50 for 64 words:


Nation IN BRIEF; ALABAMA;
Governor Asks Judge to Defy High Court;

Saturday, June 28, 1997
Home Edition
Section: PART A
Type: News Brief
ID:0970057944
Words: 64
Byline: From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Gov. Forrest "Fob" James Jr. urged a federal judge in a school prayer case to defy the U.S. Supreme Court and rule that the Bill of Rights does not apply to states. The high court is plagued by "lawlessness" and must be resisted,

Alabama, by the way, comes from an Indian word meaning Clear the
Thicket, the state motto is We Dare Defend Our Rights (Latin above), and is known as the Heart of Dixie, which inspired a crude but obvious subject line I decided not to use, since the Bill of Rights doesn't apply to them and who knows how they'd come after me. A pickup truck and a deer rifle would probably be involved.

Alabama is also mentioned in my next e-mail.

By the way, the state assembly has passed a law permitting breastfeeding in public. When they make it mandatory, I will be a happy man.

(Later:) I have found the letter from the Alabama governor to the US district court judge. It is 79 screens long, and available at Fob James's web site, which y'all can find as easily as I did if you want the full text, under press releases. It goes on endlessly quoting Madison from the debates around the adoption of the Constitution, the Magna Carta, the history of the oath of office, and all sorts of stuff, forming one of those seamless pieces of logic usually found in statements by militia groups proving that there is no such thing as the income tax, or that guy proving that Stephen King, the bastard, killed John Lennon on the orders of Richard Nixon.

Monday, June 30, 1997

I believe I sent a brief item last week about Oklahoma City police seizing copies of the movie the Tin Drum, which won the Oscar for best foreign film in 1979, and whose sex scenes are nowhere near as offensive as the one where people eat eel. Those Germans! As long as it's phallic they'll eat it. It seems they actually got Blockbuster to release the names of people who had rented it, including a local ACLU official who had known what was coming, then went to their homes and grabbed the tapes.

Another follow-up: a Belgium court reprimands 2 soldiers who roasted a Somali boy over a brazier. They said it was just a game. A photo of the incident is on the June 24th cover of the Village Voice.

If you want to buy a piece of the moon or mars, try www.moonshop.com.

July 1 in Hong Kong, celebrating the principle that sovereignty over human beings can be leased. All that partying reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe's Masque of the Red Death, written the year Britain acquired HK.

Saturday, June 28, 1997

The NY Times says 70% of deaths in hospitals are "passive euthanasia" in which treatment is deliberately withheld, and still more are from pain medication given at lethal levels. The problem is, the doctors don't seem to be discussing any of this with the patients, it being illegal and all. I'm in favor of euthanasia and all, but isn't this just a tad too much unchecked power in the hands of people who already think of themselves as gods?

Friday, June 27, 1997

Disney's records company, whatever it's called, just pulled a new CD from Insane Clown Posse (I think I heard that right), which evidently has unpleasant lyrics of the sort which which they do not wish to associate the Disney name. Funny, I'd have thought that a group called the Insane Clown Posse would produce tender love ballads.

You're all probably wondering if I've forgiven the Supreme Court, and the answer is no. The opinion on the internet indecency act was more broadly protective of the 1st Amendment than I'd have expected of this court, and unanimous too. And while I disagree with them politically about assisted suicide, only a loon or a lawyer could find an actual right to assisted suicide in the constitution. I'm also willing to allow it to kill the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, since we already have a perfectly good 1st Amendment. But what is this nonsense about congresscritters not having standing to challenge the line-item veto? If they don't have standing to ask the court to protect the separation of powers, who does? Evidently if Clinton had vetoed their free parking spaces, they could have sued because they lost something tangible, but if their legislative powers are stripped from them, they have no recourse in the courts. An interestingly materialist way to look at something as abstract as constitutional powers. This means Clinton will actually have to veto something before the Court acts. And if he vetoes, say, money to the UN or foreign aid, then no one at all has standing to challenge it, since furriners don't count.

Thursday, June 26, 1997

It has been discovered that one of the, er, um, "fellows" at the all-women Newnham College, Cambridge, in fact once was a fellow before one of those operations we men don't like to think about.

From the AP: "Prosecutors have dropped aggravated sexual battery charges in the case of a 9-year old boy who was accused of pressing himself against a girl in a lunch line."

Wednesday, June 25, 1997

The Kansas case that led to that stupid Supreme Court decision on sexual offenders was worse than I realized. The prisoner involved had served 10 years on a plea bargain. A plea bargain! He could have been sentenced to 180 years if it had gone to trial, but the prosecutor pled it and then, the very same prosecutor went back to get more time via civil commitment.

The Whitewater prosecutor's drones have been interviewing Arkansas state troopers and every woman Clinton's ever been rumored to have slept with (that should drag it out until Clinton's Strom Thurmond's age) about his various affairs. What does Kenneth Starr plan to do, prosecute Clinton for adultery?

Tuesday, June 24, 1997

Way out there

This week is the 50th anniversary of both Roswell and the murder of Bugsy Siegal (who has a street named after him, although misspelled, in Las Vegas). A coincidence? I think not!

The truth is out there.

Fuck the Supreme Court

Right now I am so pissed off about the sexual predator decision that I don't have room to be pissed off about the decision allowing state teachers to teach in parochial schools.

First, let me point out, as neither the NY Times nor the Washington Post had the bad taste to, the incredible irony of Clarence "Pubic Hair in My Coke" Thomas writing a decision about so-called sexual predators. So people without the legal definition of mental illness can be incarcerated in mental hospitals forever, after serving criminal sentences. Nice to see mental hospitals (doesn't that word imply treatment?) being used for criminal purposes, just like the Soviet Union used to. Thomas says this is not punishment, hence subject to some sort of constitutional protection, such as that against double jeopardy, because it doesn't involve retribution or deterrence. Sure it doesn't. And it's ok that no treatment is on offer, by definition making the incarceration life-long. The people covered by the Kansas law are defined as suffering a mental abnormality or personality disorder that prevents them exercising adequate control over their behaviour. And who in prison does this not apply to? Including most of the guards.

If you're ever in Somalia, don't drink the water, since every UN soldier sent there in 1992 seems to have gone insane in a way that prevented them exercising adequate control over their behaviour. The meek, mild Canadians tortured Somalis, so did the Italians, Belgians roasted a Somalian boy over a brazier (and they will be sentenced this week to as much a month in jail and a $300 fine), and that's the most polite thing I know of Belgians doing; I will spare you the rest. Operation Restore Hope, wasn't that the name?

Hong Kong's currently illegal shadow legislature will not only implement all those awful laws you've been hearing about, but doing so retroactively to the first minute of Chinese rule, so that the demonstrations on the stroke of midnight July 1 will be illegalized ex post facto. The day after this announcement, Britain caved in to Chinese demands that it's troops be allowed in early, presumably so they can be in place to Tiananmen the Hong Kongese.

It's now clear that JFK had truly lousy intelligence during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that armageddon was a lot closer than he ever realized. It also now comes out, from the Russian archives, that there were still 98 tactical nukes in Cuba when Kruschev was promising there weren't. They'd have stayed there, too, but the Cuban foreign minister couldn't keep his mouth shut about them.

I trust you're all following the tobacco settlement ($2 billion for the lawyers! Money so well spent) and the Louisiana implementation of two-tier marriage law (married, and really really married) without my prodding. And of course, the Russian justice minister videoed frolicking with naked women in a mafia sauna. And the sudden realization that since no one ever did anything about a crimes against humanity tribunal, if Pol Pot is ever really arrested, there's no place to try him.

Oh, I think I forgot, when I was making fun last week of the House analysis of the CIA, to mention that one provision of the new intelligence budget is whistleblower protection, for anyone who brings to the attention of Congresscritters, and only those on the appropriate oversight committees, of crimes, fraud and lying to Congress by the intelligence agencies. Clinton has the nerve to threaten to veto the bill because of this provision. Evidently it interferes with his authority to, well, um, presumably to order crimes, fraud and lying to Congress. He gets more Nixonian every year.

Monday, June 23, 1997

McNutrition

During the British McLibel suit just ended, Micky D's senior VP for marketing, answering the charge the their food was not nutritious, said that Coca-Cola is nutricious because it is "providing water, and I think that is part of a balanced diet."

Thursday, June 19, 1997

The House Committee on Intelligence thinks the CIA should have more money. Its report says that the CIA lacks analytic depth and that information is collected but not analyzed. Asked to respond, a CIA spokesman, and I am quoting the NY Times here, "said the agency had not seen the panel's report and could not comment on the criticisms it contained." Point taken.

OK, a couple of days ago two Orthodox rabbis in NY were arrested for laundering Colombian drug money, yesterday it was two SF interior decorators. I'm sure there's a pattern here, but I can't think what it might be.

Cardinal O'Connor joined the anti-Disney bandwagon, criticizing the new movie Hercules for I guess promoting the worship of pagan deities. Also, it lacks the homoerotic element he so enjoyed in all those badly-dubbed Italian Hercules movies. (Joke courtesy of the Daily Show)

The Russian Duma passes a bill, sponsored by a Communist yet, establishing the primacy of the Orthodox Church and establishing registration of religions with an aim to illegalizing any activities, including publishing and missionary work, by any sect they dislike. Especially the Baptists.
Probably a joint Disney-Russian Orthodox plot.

Not content with a Prime Minister who models himself after Clinton, Britain's Tory party elects itself a vibrant (cough) young leader, one William Jefferson Hague (yes, really). Mr. Hague was more ambitious at a younger age than even Clinton. When other kids were memorizing football team lineups, he knew by heart the names and constituencies of all 650+ MPs and regularly read Hansard. His mother (who is not a Tory and thinks he should have gone into business) still gave him a Tory party membership for his 15th birthday. When he was 16, he was annoited by Thatcher in a moment akin to little Billy Bob Clinton shaking hands with JFK. He vowed not to have a girlfriend until he became a cabinet minister. By an amazing coincidence, he became the youngest cabinet minister in quite some time. OK, that part's not that much like Clinton, but he has been called Hague the Vague, and now Hague the Younger. But remember, he is completely bald, and that makes me feel better.

Tuesday, June 17, 1997

Watergate

I think it's CNN that has rented the actual room of the break-in, 25 years ago today, and hired G. Gordon Liddy. What a great career move that burglary was for him; I wonder how the Cubans are doing? The Washington Post is still wallowing in Watergate nostalgia, so you might check out their web-site. I wonder if I'd feel less of a personal connection to all this if Nixon hadn't chosen my birthday to resign on.

My question about the Cubans might be significant, for all I know. Remember Mohammed Hashemi, one of the lesser figures in the Iran-Contra affair? He's been talking to the Sunday Times (of London), and I think has a book coming out. It seems that in 1984 the CIA spirited him out of the country to London after he was charged with 56 counts of various malfeasci (or whatever the plural of malfeasance is), where MI6 put him to work at what he did best, arms dealing. 1st they were trying to buy some Chinese Silkworm missiles, to see how to counter them. They aborted that purchase when the US did it first, but Hashemi wound up brokering the delivery of Chinese weaponry to Iran, in breach of the UN embargo and with MI6's permission for every deal. He sold them those fast motorboats that were used to attack American and British freighters, and the Silkworms used for the same purpose. Basically, he made possible the tanker war of the mid-80s, with all that lead to.

I hope everyone is breaking the barriers in their heart, as Clinton has suggested we do to rid the country of the scourge of racism. I have put "breaking the barriers in my heart" on my To Do list, right after washing the car and having sex with a supermodel.

Hollywood needs another pet cause now that the Dalai Lama has said that homosexuality is a bad thing, along with anal and oral sex (I leave it to your imaginations where these are on my To Do list), but that prostitution is okay, as long as you pay for it yourself. This was presumably to placate Richard "Pretty Woman" Gere.

Clinton is thinking about apologizing for slavery. Bill Maher says he wants to start off by apologizing for things that happened 200 years ago and work up to Paula Jones. Gingrich thinks we shouldn't apologize for slavery because that would just be meaningless "emotional symbolism." He said this the day after the House again passed the flag burning Amendment.
Speaking of which, the shadow Hong Kong legislature has already passed a law providing a penalty of 3-years prison for defacing the Chinese flag.

Sunday, June 15, 1997

Stupid criminal tricks

A judge in Michigan resigns after newspaper finds he phoned sex lines 124 times from the courthouse. He says he's quitting "due to continuing difficulties with my hearing." That's probably how he was found out: "SPEAK UP, GIRLY! YOU WANT TO DO WHAT TO MY WHAT?"

And while a Santa Rosa real estate person can't benefit from the insurance he had on the partner he strangled, evidently his son can get the $500,000. This is the famous case where the victim's parrot was heard to utter "Richard, no no no no."