Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Banana magnate

The Bush daughters turn 21 today...

Switzerland, whose referenda are often as good an argument against direct democracy as California’s, very narrowly defeated one that would have turned away nearly all refugees.

Corporations are moving their intellectual property off-shore to tax havens--trademarks, patents, logos, etc.--so that the parent company pays inflated fees to its subsidiaries that can be written off in the US.

The annoying Joseph Lieberman asks the right question: What did the Saudis know, and when did they know it.

Actually, the URL tells you what that one’s about.

Putin vetoes the bill outlawing reporting or criticizing “counter-terrorism” operations (including the whole Chechen war), so that’s one for the good guys.

Someone dies in a really stupid way, and it’s an Oxford student. Human catapult stunt (using a medieval trebuchet)(look it up). The student was named Dino Yankov, and now Dino is extinct.

The gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that) fascist (not that.. oh wait) Jörg Haider quits politics again (he’ll no doubt have changed his mind by the time you read this) after his party drops from 27% in 1999 to 10% this week, which is still way too high, but I’ll take it.

(10 minutes later): In fact he did change his mind.

And yet another “populist” military leader wins an election in Latin America shortly after leading a coup attempt. This time it’s Ecuador. Haven’t really formed an opinion on the guy yet, but this is obviously a bad trend. Of course his opponent was a banana magnate (!) and the richest man in Ecuador, which isn’t a good trend either. Still, it’s a step up from the former president known as El Loco.

The ACLU hires as a lobbyist the creepy-mustachioed Bob Barr.

And Philip Morris’s hq in Melbourne, Australia bans smoking (in 1995 the company got NYC to exempt it from its workplace smoking laws by threatening to leave the city).

The US is trying to tighten sanctions on Iraq further, banning it receiving a heart medication and the antibiotic Cipro. US ambassador to the UN Negroponte says the US does not believe these (and other) goods “have a benign, civilian, or purely humanitarian purpose.” Which is bad news for me, since I have Cipro in my medicine cabinet.

George Monbiot in the Guardian today reminds us that the next target after Afghanistan was supposed to be Somalia, but the ratings weren’t good enough. “It is plain that the US government's decision to go to war came first, its chosen target second, and its reason for attacking that country third.”

Proof that there is a God: A lightning bolt struck a group of worshippers during an open air church service in Zimbabwe on Sunday, killing 10 people, the Herald newspaper said yesterday.

A Montenegrin family thought a Second World War artillery shell which had been in their yard for 50 years was the ideal replacement for a broken table leg until it exploded, slightly injuring eight people about to eat. The family in Danilovgrad were preparing the local speciality of grilled pork fat when the old shell went off, the Yugoslav daily Vecernje Novosti said yesterday.

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