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.

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