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.