Sunday, February 20, 2005

Maybe they meant to call it Operation River Blintz


The US is reportedly about to start a Fallujah-type attack on Ramadi, which has the astonishingly stupid codename Operation River Blitz. If they really wanted to scare the Iraqis, they’d have called it Operation Riverdance. A Marine major-general says the militants of Ramadi are “intent on preventing a peaceful transition of power between the interim Iraqi government and the Iraqi transitional government.” Interim, transitional, if there are any more stages to this thing we’re gonna run out of words meaning “not a real government.”

Bush is in Europe in order to mend fences--Niall Ferguson writes in the Guardian that it’s like Nixon going to China. He will forgive the Europeans for being, well, Europeans, just as long as he doesn’t have to listen to them being, well, European, for too long. Plans for a town-hall meeting in Germany were cancelled when the Germans refused to screen participants. And he will meet the heads of Europe tomorrow for a summit, in which he will speak for 30 minutes, and 11 heads of governments will be given a maximum of 5 minutes each. I’m picturing a band starting up when Berlusconi goes over.

The king of Swaziland, Mswati III, facing criticism for having bought BMWs for each of his 11 wives, in one of the poorest and definitely the most HIV-ridden country in the world, has issued a royal decree banning photos being taken “when [the king] alights from his car”. Problem solved.

Objective reporting at its finest, from the Daily Telegraph: “Confused Spaniards Vote for EU Constitution.” Although 77% of the few people who turned out to vote supported the constitution (Spain is the first country to vote on it), what the Telegraph is referring to is that few have evidently read the 87,392-page document.

I’ve run stories before about elephants in Thailand taking up painting. One was just bought by a Thai businesswoman living in America for $39,000. The painting, “Cold Wind, Swirling Mist, Charming Lanna Number One,” is reportedly a cross between impressionism and surrealism, as is this whole story.

I’m not 100% sure that this is that painting (and how could so many news outlets run this story without showing the painting?):



Post-Impressionism, maybe, but surrealism?

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