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


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
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.