Friday, August 27, 1999

The California legislature makes it illegal to use a hidden camera to look up women’s skirts.

What the hell is pyrotechnic tear gas anyway?

The King of Buganda gets married, but rescinds the ancient tradition that no one else in the kingdom is allowed to have sex on his wedding night.

The Germans are planning to make prostitution more legal, so that prostitutes will qualify for social benefits. Prostitution is legal in most countries in Europe. In Greece, retirement is mandatory at 55. Of course in Greece, all the prostitutes look like Anthony Quinn.

Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Mississippi has decided that the Star of David is not a gang symbol and will be allowed in schools. And Christians will presumably continue to be allowed to wear replicas of instruments of torture around their necks, as per usual.

The Venezuelan congress has been to all intents and purposes eliminated today, so the coup is complete.

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

You can’t go home again

Palo Alto has begun giving $30 tickets to SUVs in parking spaces marked compact.

Russian peacekeepers in Kosovo have been taking lessons from the Germans on how to occupy a country politely. Really. Like, when you search someone’s car, smile at them. As far as I know, they are not showing them Hogan’s Heroes reruns. Next week, the British will teach them not to steal from the car.

Clinton says he has never used cocaine. Um, did anyone ask? There goes the last reasonable explanation for “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Speaking of which, Tony Blair is having a problem replacing the outgoing Defence Minister George Robertson with his old running mate Peter Mandelson, aka the Prince of Darkness. Mandelson is gay, so the armed forces chiefs think it would be inappropriate as long as they’re still banning gays in the lower ranks.

When the House of Lords is reformed, 92 hereditary peers will be allowed to stay on temporarily. They will be elected by their fellow hereditaries, and are supposed to write an essay on Why I Should Be in the House of Lords in 75 words or less. And I am not making that up.

Monday, August 23, 1999

Happy 1 billionth, India!

This week marks one year since the US bombed a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. We are still waiting for proof that it had anything to do with bio weapons. All the US can point to is some soil samples, which we always knew were iffy because they were taken by Sudanese enemies of the regime, and because by some reports there isn’t actually any soil anywhere in that industrial region to take soil samples from. Now it turns out that there is no particular reason a bioweapons plant would have been poisoning nearby soil.

Anyone want to start a pool on when Bush has to answer the question on cocaine? And how about where? Larry King? I’m of two minds on this one, since my past record on predicting which scandals were going to be big and which would never be heard from again has been pretty poor. It could be forgotten completely once any real news kills it. Or it could expose the support Dubya has accumulated as being so thin it could blow away, like the cocaine when Woody Allen sneezed at it in Annie Hall (Manhattan?). He’s running on morals which he obviously doesn’t really have, and on a biography because he lacks a resume. Any real candidate would either take this head-on in hopes of getting through it, or talk about actual issues, you know, politics, what campaigns are supposed to be about, except, oh yeah, he has no issues. If reporters wanted to embarrass him, they wouldn’t need to ask him about past cocaine use, but to name the prime minister of France.

Saturday, August 21, 1999

Quote of the day: “Life has taught me nothing. Which is as it should be.” Stephen Fry

At some point I mentioned or forwarded something about Indians (Asian Indians) using transvestites to collect debts (pay up or I’ll show you my genitals). Evidently this sort of thing is done by the big companies like Citibank who operate in India and subcontract out their debt-collecting. Since the legal system is for shit, other methods of collection include kidnapping and strong-arm tactics. One Citibank sub-contractor tried to get people to sell a kidney to pay a $750 debt. When that became known they cancelled the contract, only to resume it two years later, suggesting that the company change its name.

Friday, August 20, 1999

The Village Voice says of Pierce Brosnan in the Thomas Crown Affair that he is wooden “but a nice wood, like teak.”

NY mayor Benito Guiliani is now sending out his storm troopers to arrest people without dog licenses.

The CA. Sup Court allows warrantless searches for “community care-taking functions,” in the case in question for entering a home whose door was reported as being ajar [which is evidently illegal now] and spotting drugs. Justice Mosk observes that the fuzz could have performed their community care-taking function by shutting the door.

Singapore, efficient as always, declares all candidates for president but one ineligible and cancels the election.

Dubya says that he has not used drugs in at least 15 years. His handlers say 25, but that is not what he said. He won’t answer questions about drugs, but he would answer this question because it was about background checks. Unfortunately, he was wrong about the requirement of White House background checks, which is not 7 years, but from age 18. Shrub’s incompetent handling of this question is already making some people question his ability to deal with more difficult ones. Also, he said “fuck” in an interview. Sneaking up on him is the possibility of a contempt citation in Formaldegate, in which he gutted the Texas Funeral Service Commission and fired its head when it dared to target a Bush campaign contributor.

Tuesday, August 17, 1999

Earthquake in Turkey, 2,000 dead. Earthquake in Bolinas, 2 books fell on my head.

I didn’t start out intending that to rhyme.

George Dubya wins a meaningless Iowa poll by buying more straw than anyone else, or however it works, and Lamar Alexander insults the democratic process by resigning the race in response. Alexander, by the way, like fellow loser Dan Quayle, has been unemployed for 6 1/2 years.

The Texas schizo’s execution has been cancelled by the courts, something that Bush didn’t actually have the power to do, given that his appointees on the pardon board voted against it. As Molly Ivins will tell you, the Texas governorship is not like a real governor; he isn’t allowed to do much.

I think Russia is following the American example and planning to win the Dagestan war through air power. The US hit the Chinese embassy, the Russians will probably bomb Tiananmen Square.

In South Korea, today was the day to eat dog. This has been illegal in Korea since shortly before the Seoul Olympics, but that doesn’t stop them. I think I express everyone’s sentiments when I wish all dog-eating Koreans a case of projectile vomiting.

Monday, August 16, 1999

The games coppers play

The head of the German Jewish community dies, his body is shipped to Israel so his grave won’t be desecrated by neo-Nazis. His grave is promptly desecrated by a Jew.

Imelda Marcos has been up to her old tricks and now has many thousands of pairs of shoes again.

Former dictator of Indonesia Suharto, who claims to have only one name, a likely story if you ask me, is sick but is afraid to get medical treatment in a country with, you know, doctors, because of Pinochet being arrested when he went to Britain for medical treatment.

The US has opened a consulate in Ho Chi Minh City on the site of the old embassy from all those 1975 films. The consulate has a sloped roof, so no helicopters can land there.

This should be a national story, but since the Washington Post hasn’t touched it, I’d better pass along that in Monday’s LA Times it was revealed that Stanford University has been using teenaged inmates 14 to 18 in drug experiments, the drug in question being supposed to reduce their violent tendencies. Project Clockwork Orange, or whatever they called it, was obviously illegal, but the Cal Youth Authority claims to have been lied to by Stanford, which is hardly an excuse.

In South Africa, a white woman wins a racial discrimination suit against the state-owned electricity company. Right.

Speaking of racial discrimination, Utah Senator Robert Bennett is in trouble for saying something to the effect that George Dubya is now a shoe-in unless a black woman comes forward with his illegitimate baby. My favorite phrase in the Post story: “Senator Bennett, who is white...” My God, the Republican Senator from Utah is white! However did that happen?!

Saturday, August 14, 1999

If you want to be depressed for the rest of the day, read the article on Russian orphanages in the Sunday Washington Post.

Paris has a new restaurant called Gout du Noir, in which all the waiters are blind and the place is itself so dark that one can’t see even anything at all even after an hour. It is for people who want to see what it’s like to be blind and eat crappy food. Or, France being France, who want to see what it’s like to have sex in the middle of a restaurant without being arrested.

In Kosovo, the UN is insisting on implementing the laws imposed on the province by Serbia after the take-over in 1989 rather than reverting to the laws of the autonomous province. It has also given UN soldiers and police the right to hold people for 12 hours just because they feel like it.

Thanks to Georgia’s antiquated divorce law, we’re going to get to hear all about Newt’s mistress, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Incidentally, David Corn writes that he did indeed try to get that story four years ago but couldn’t get enough of it on the record. Still, it does prove what I suggested a few days ago, that everyone in Washington knew about this including the reporters, but failed to include us in on the secret. I haven’t seen a picture, but whatshername is supposed to look a lot like Hillary. What I really want to know is how people like Newt always seem to have hot and cold running mistresses while I couldn’t get a date for the Millennial New Year with a fistful of E-tickets for the Rapture.

Thursday, August 12, 1999

Uzis and floozies

The guy who shot up the Jewish community center was carrying an Uzi. Oh the irony.

Evidently, Gingrich really quit politics because he was himself in the middle of an affair with a (much younger) House staff member. Why didn’t we know this earlier? For example back in 1995 when Vanity Fair mentioned that she and he frequently had breakfast together, which is I guess not that subtle a hint. Reminiscent of the Washington Post, which once wrote about Jennifer Fitzgerald, Bush the Elder’s alleged bit on the side, describing her as having “worked under Mr. Bush in a variety of positions.”

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

As predicted, Kansas (Official song, from now on: “If I only had a brain”) banned the teaching of evolution from its schools, except for micro-evolution, that is, evolutionary development within species. Alabama has a little sticker on all its books saying that evolution is just a theory and we don’t really know because nobody was there when life first appeared except for Strom Thurmond and he doesn’t remember.

Washington Post headline of the week: “Hate May Have Been Behind Fatal Barracks Beating”

Quote of the week, Marilyn Quayle on George Bush the Younger: “Everything he got, Daddy took care of.” That reminds me of a dirty joke about Quayle that I can’t quite remember. Anybody?

China gets its first condom machines. Previously, condoms were available only to married couples by prescription.

The proposed preamble to the Australian constitution will not after all include the word “mateship”, which is one of those Australian concepts that makes the place so gosh-darned charming. I could give you a lecture on the origins of the idea in World War I, but I think not.

Yesterday India shot down a Pakistani plane over India and/or Pakistan. I say “and/or” because what the American press didn’t quite get yesterday was that the area was disputed, so both sides were correct in their claims.

Monday, August 09, 1999

A new study says that the dramatic decrease in crime is due to the legalization of abortion in the 1970s, by ridding the world of a lot of unwanted children. It seems questionable, but boy will it be fun to watch the fireworks.

Yeltsin has fired yet another prime minister. I think the talk I’ve heard about it so far may be wrong-headed. Putin’s career over the last few years has been in putting down separatism, and Dagestan does look like going the way of Chechnya. Ironically, the appointment can also be interpreted as a move towards tribalism within the Kremlin, as Yeltsin attempts to use Petersburg as a regional power-base against the center of power around the mayor of Moscow, who increasingly looks like winning next year’s presidential elections. I think it will fail, but it will ensure that if the mayor whose name I can’t spell without looking it up wins, then the resulting administration will look even more like a Greater Muscovy with less and less legitimacy more than a hundred miles from downtown Moscow.

I keep seeing references to this poll that says 3/4 of the people think there have been worse scandals since Watergate, but I have to wonder which ones they mean. You could maybe make a case for Iran-Contra, but somehow I don’t think that’s what they mean. Nixon’s role in history looks better because Nixon so degraded the office of the presidency (although not with semen stains, which you can probably get out with a little club soda) and increased public cynicism, that Nixon himself doesn’t look so bad. If you follow.

Saturday, August 07, 1999

I trust you’re all searching out the curiously unobtrusive stories about how the KLA are turning into nazis and thieves and drug-runners just as bad as the Serbs were. Remember, there are people it is ok to mistreat. Quick history test: how many people can name the year in which Buchenwald was closed?

A story worth reading in the Sunday Washington Post on the increasing exclusion of evolution from American classrooms, which is expected to reach Kansas this week. The only fit punishment for these people is for their doctors to have major gaps in their biological education.

Speaking of abysmal ignorance, in the last 18 months over 350 witches have been killed in Tanzania. You know what’s going over big in Tanzania right now? Human skin, which protects homes from evil spirits. So if anyone was wondering what to buy me for my birthday...

Speaking of August, the French now have an absolute right not to be in Paris when the tourists are there in August. The government now pays for the unemployed to have vacations. Unemployment is hard work.

Texas again. On June 17, Dubya signed his 100th death warrant. What sort of party do you have for that? More on the Larry Robison case featured in the Molly Ivins piece I sent out earlier this week: despite all that evidence of Robison having been a whacko for years, the prosecutor claimed that he was faking mental illness and it was really just drugs. How did he get away with that? Because the defense attorney didn’t call any of the several doctors who diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic, nor did he mention the numerous mentally ill family members. And to answer my own question, (this new information comes from the Sunday Times of London by the way)(which shows a touching innocence about American politics by suggesting that the case is controversial) Dubya commuted exactly one sentence. Of a guy who clearly didn’t do it. Not that that has always stopped Texas, or Shrub. Will he kill the loon? Well, Clinton did, Ricky Ray Rector, the guy who saved his dessert.

Friday, August 06, 1999

I mentioned a while back a Catholic who doesn’t want to be in the small control room in the nuclear missile silo with women because of the temptation to sin. Someone has commented that perhaps we don’t want someone with his finger on the button without at least a little ability to resist temptation. (That did not start out to be a statement about Clinton.)

Christopher Hitchens has a column in Salon about George Dubya’s 93 executions. It certainly brings up the question of how much time he spends on them in addition to running the rest of the state. If you had to decide whether someone should die once every two weeks, on average, how much time would you devote to it? And still have a little spare time to fund-raise and run for the presidency. Hitchens mentions the juveniles and one case that from the wording may or may not have been in Dubya’s watch, of a gay man whose lawyer used words like queers and fairies. In court. When he wasn’t asleep. Court-appointed, don’t you know.

12 candidates for president were asked about past cocaine use. 11 denied it. Dubya, in the words of the London Times headline, sniffed at the question. (The Times was on a headline binge today. The obituary of the world’s oldest goldfish said something about him talking a last spin. The fish, if you were wondering, was 43. Tish, we hardly knew ye. And a story about a Japanese war museum that just opened said something about not mentioning the war, a line from Fawlty Towers you should all recognize, which the paper uses every chance it gets. The World War II museum is so sanitized that it doesn’t use words like war or bombing, much less comfort women, Pearl Harbor, Manchukuo... Those people still think they’re the victims of that war. The museum opened on Hiroshima Day.

Stalin’s grandson is barred from running for the Georgian Parliament. Cause he’s a Russian citizen.

Montenegro proposes autonomy, the papers all said today. If they bothered to read the document, they’d realize that Montenegro’s proposal was intended to be rejected, since it gives tiny Montenegro parity with Serbia in the federal government. The US policy, amazingly enough, is that Montenegro should remain within Yugoslavia.

In the death knell to the few non-network tv stations left in the country, companies are now to be allowed to own two stations in larger markets. As Scott Schuger points out in the Slate, this decision was made by 4 guys in the FCC, not by Congress.

Man wins drinking competition in Sydney, dies of alcohol poisoning. Stereotype lives on.

The Lee Harvey Oswald file from Russia has a document on a hunting trip. Oswald “shot very badly”. Sigh.

Thursday, August 05, 1999

The Israeli army is trying to figure out how to recruit more Arabs. There isn’t enough sarcasm in the world to respond to that item.

The Syrian defense minister calls Yassir Arafat the son of 60,000 whores (which must make for a very crowded delivery room). General Tlass once wrote a treatise on the place of garlic in Islamic life.

There is a major push for independence in the Caprivi Strip. If it succeeds, it’ll be the silliest looking country in the world, that’s for sure.

As I feared, the failure of the Irish peace plan has spurred several republican splinter groups--the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA, the Irish National Liberation Army and the People’s Front of Judea--into merging. As we know, the only thing that brings more violence in Ireland than IRA splinter groups merging, is IRA splinter groups splintering.

The leader of the Welsh Tory party Rod Richards evidently took two much younger women he’d never met before out to dinner, and then beat one of them up. This less than a year after the Welsh Secretary Ron Davies joined a couple of much younger men he’d never met before in dinner and got the crap beaten out of him in what certainly wasn’t a homosexual encounter. Richards has been replaced by the equally alliterative David Davies. Speaking as someone who occasionally has to study Welsh history, let him give a word of advice to the Welsh: get some more fucking names! Everyone does not have to be named Davies, Williams or Jones or have the first names David, William or John.
Sunday is the 25th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation and there seems to be nothing scheduled on tv, although there is a movie in theaters about teenaged girls breaking the whole Watergate thing. Doesn’t seem quite right. Although, to my surprise, the media still haven’t gotten tired of speculating about why Clinton likes to have a lot of sex. I can only assume none of them have ever had sex themselves and are still wondering what the fuss is all about. Incidentally, there is something intrinsically evil, in a culture-destroying sense, about a magazine named Talk. I trust I don’t have to explain that.

Speaking of decadent western culture, Iran has reversed its ban on the import of decadent western musical instruments like pianos. Truly the ways of the devil have returned to this once righteous land. Unless they are planning to drop a piano on Salman Rushdie.

In Saudi Arabia at a wedding, the bride commented to her husband on how badly his mother was dancing. He divorced her on the spot.

An IRA prisoner in the 7th year of his 24-year sentence in Britain was allowed out on a weekend pass to launch his new book.

On tv, I just saw those 107-year old Japanese twins I may have mentioned a couple of days ago. I don’t have anything to say about them, but fuck do they look old.

Some guy with a, what was it, a hatchet, dies from cuts during a chase with police in Bakersfield. Evidently it’s not just scissors.

Monday, August 02, 1999

Bagging game

So the Christian Coalition (which, like the Moral Majority, is neither) bore false witness about its membership numbers. Tsk tsk.

Evidently Gen. Wesley Clark wanted to get into a race for Pristina when the Russians were heading that way but the Brits refused. I did tell you at the start of all this that the most combative person was going to be the one whose name got him beaten up the most at school. The British general who refused, Michael Jackson, would have been but he was born too early for his name to be a problem.