Wednesday, January 01, 2003

A diplomatic showdown

Israel bans another Arab MP and his party from the elections (a story yet to appear in either the NY Times or the WashPost, although everyone carried the court ruling that military reservists can’t resist illegal orders but must be good little Germans). Won’t stop them calling themselves a democracy, I imagine, although 20% of the population is now effectively disenfranchised. But I guess the Palestinians can always vote for the Zionist of their choice.

The US has finally snuck genetically modified crops into Europe in a rather odd place: its money. The euro is printed on cotton, which is imported from Turkey or the US. In the US, cotton is often GM, and no records are kept.

Speaking of funny money, the parents of a Vermont girl arrested for marijuana possession showed up with her $50,000 bail money, which the police promptly confiscated because it smelled like marijuana. The money came from their daughter’s friends.

Today was the annual release of British records under the 30 Years’ Rule. In 1972, the year of Bloody Sunday, the Heath gov considered repartitioning the province and expelling the Catholics. The 2001 census shows the Catholics are gaining fast. The census people refuse to take no religion for an answer. Even if you’re an atheist, they ask what your parents were and where you went to school so they can decide what religion you should be.

The Texas Supreme Court rules 8-0 that the state doesn’t have to pay for abortions in cases where the mother’s health is at risk. That’s eight to zero. The state is required to pay for all medically necessary procedures for men, of course.

This is a British story, or it might result in some very silly warning labels: A 12-year-old girl died after hitting her head during a pillow fight with her best friend. Jessica Smith made a playful lunge with the pillow but missed and banged her head on a bedstead. ....

Speaking of dead girls (because I always enjoy starting out the year on a light note), that Russian colonel, the only person in the military ever charged with one of the many, many atrocities committed in Chechnya, was acquitted for raping and strangling a teenage girl because he was crazy at the time. Well, drunk, anyway. The rape part wasn’t mentioned in court.

Shrub is twisting himself into humorous knots trying to describe why North Korea is not like Iraq. He again tries to claim that Iraq might have nukes, which it does not. He says, “I believe this is not a military showdown, this is a diplomatic showdown.” The word showdown is a sure sign that he was in Texas at the time; the military/diplomatic distinction, if it means anything, means that the American response in one case is military, in the other diplomatic, or in other words, his explanation for why he’s responding to the two situations differently is that it’s because he’s responding to them differently. So that clears that up. Come to think of it, I know what a military showdown is, but what the heck is a diplomatic showdown? Start back to back, walk ten paces, then turn around and exercise diplomacy? Dooooo not forsaaake me, o my daaarlin’....

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