Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Fatwas, Nixonburgers, the King Herod of the Labour Party, the orgasmotran, and turkey and gravy flavored soda

A fascinating, must-read (but long), WaPo article on how the US’s plans to impose a constitution of our making on Iraq failed. Hint: fatwa.

As punishment for the Wall, Israel’s loan guarantees will be cut slightly. Actually outright grants won’t be cut at all, and the actual effect on the Israeli budget may amount to at most a couple million. In other words, this was not a punishment intended to change their behaviour or be anything other than cosmetic.

Another Neil Bush detail: in December 2001 Jiang Zemin threw him a private dinner, at which Jiang “serenaded him with a military song.” I think Neil would have preferred a hooker. Speaking of presidential brothers, I of course remember Billy Beer, but a restaurant chain named “Nixonburger”?

Today was the state opening of Parliament. The Queen made a mistake reading the speech, referring to the National Health Service as the National Hunt. That’s one way to cut medical costs. One of the bills Labour wants is to force asylum-seekers to leave the country by eliminating their benefits, and taking their children from them (for their own good of course, because their parents would no longer be getting benefits, you see). Writes Home Secretary David Blunkett, “I have no desire to take children from parents and put them in care unless it is an absolute last resort.” Oh well, if it’s the absolute last resort, that’s ok then. He adds, “I did not come into politics to be the King Herod of the Labour party.” And yet...

In Britain, an 80-year old woman was writing her will when burglars broke in. She fought them off with a World War I ceremonial sword.

Shevardnadze says that the West betrayed him after he “rescued the world” from the brink of nuclear armageddon by ending the Cold War. Evidently he thinks he should have been allowed to keep a country as, you know, a tip.

An unlikely story: “Trials of an implant that promises to give women an orgasm at the push of a button have stalled because of a lack of volunteers to test it.”

The town of Corleone, Sicily, is thinking of changing its name. Possibly to Soprano.

Turkey and gravy flavored soda.

The LA Times recently ran a story I missed on Wal-Mart. Today a columnist, Steve Lopez, wonders, why does a polo shirt cost $8.63? “Because of the way Wal-Mart does business in America and beyond: A. Your Uncle Ed's factory went under and he's on the dole,
B. A couple dozen merchants got rocked by the ripple effect,
C. A nail was driven into the coffin that used to be a quaint downtown,
D. That Honduran mom made $7 for 10 hours of toil,
E. A Chinese company is probably plotting to underbid the Hondurans,
F. Wal-Mart execs padded their mega-million-dollar portfolios,
G. And our taxes are going up because Wal-Mart employees who can't afford health insurance are dragging themselves into the county emergency room.

If that's the cost to you and me and everyone else, that polo shirt ought to be $5.99 and not a penny more, or we're being seriously ripped off.” He thinks the woman in the Honduran sweatshop is not pulling her weight.

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