Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I can't do it with Schröder

Singapore is considering lifting its ban on oral sex, which dates back to British colonial days. Plan your vacations accordingly.

More on the Afghan constitution: its “rights,” including those for women and ethnic minorities, are not rights, because they can be overridden by laws, and anyway the Supreme Court in practice has been packed with religious rather than legal types. It also specified that the national anthem, which has yet to be written, will be sung in Pashto (presumably not by women), but will mention all the other ethnic groups, and it will be “funkadelic.” I may have made up the last part. Since the regions (read: warlords) refuse to be ruled by the central government, the constitution avoids the issue and omits to spell out the relationship between them, like who gets to raise taxes, which you’d kinda think is the sort of thing that belongs in a constitution.

The NY Times has an article on Condi Rice. It begins thus: “Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, stood in front of Mr. Bush's desk in the Oval Office last summer and tried to coax the president into something he did not want to face. She suggested, carefully, that the White House begin repairing the rupture with the allies over Iraq by reaching out to Germany... "I can't do it with Schröder," Mr. Bush told Ms. Rice, according to a senior administration official who witnessed the exchange. Ms. Rice, who had not directly suggested that Mr. Bush meet with Mr. Schröder, rushed to reassure. "No, no, no, we won't make you do it with Schröder," she said. But Mr. Bush seemed to know what Ms. Rice had in mind. "Wait a minute, you'll get me back with Schröder, I know what you're trying to do," the president said, the official recounted.”

I’m reminded of my mother trying to get me to eat lima beans when I was a kid. Ultimately Condi got him to do what she wanted (which is why she’s national security adviser instead of my mother, who was less successful).

New York City settles with Amadou Diallo’s survivors for a measly $3m (or $73,170.73 for each bullet the cops fired at him, or $157,894.73 for each one that hit him). It would have been more, but there was no pain & suffering, because he was shot to death. Reminds me of an insurance policy I once had which would pay $500 if I lost one eye and $1,000 if I lost both, which is obviously exactly twice as bad.

The principal of that SC high school where the police came in with dogs and pointed guns at students while they looked for drugs (and found a high America...does not compute), last November (I linked to the video at the time), has resigned.

There’s a London Times story I didn’t feel obligated to actually read about the TSA’s requirement that crew on planes in US airspace must announce every two hours that passengers may not “congregate outside the toilets.” The Times headline: “BA Defends Rights to Queue for the Loo at 20,000ft.”

Speaking of which, I mentioned that Brazil had retaliated. I didn’t mention that this was ordered not by the government but by a judge, who first called the fingerprinting and photographing “absolutely brutal, threatening human rights, violating human dignity, xenophobic and worthy of the worst horrors committed by the Nazis”--and then ordered the exact same horrors inflicted on Americans. And speaking of double standards, the US State Dept has asked Brazil to reverse this, because of the “inconvenience” to American travelers.

Next week Paris, the city of cafes, will get what it has no doubt been panting for: its first Starbucks. Maybe they can get Wonder Bread to supply them with bread.

And Iraq is about to get what it has no doubt been panting for: Pepsi, absent from the country since sanctions began in 1990. Well, semi-absent. Its former bottler put “home-made cola” in old Pepsi bottles and sold it (I’m reminded of the “Commie Coke” I drank in East Berlin in 1983). For some reason, the Arab world is boycotting Coke, which has therefore not been sold in Iraq since 1968.

Here’s a photo, well you’ll probably see it everywhere, of Saddam Hussein being taken out of his “spider hole” by a soldier with no face. Saddam has clearly been punched in the mouth.

One or two emails ago, I linked to Osama’s latest message, which the Guardian ran as an op-ed piece. Here is a response by Catherine Bennett to “My Fellow Columnist, Osama,” in which she notes that at least he takes the long view, comparing Arab rulers who cooperate with the US to “our forefathers, the Ghassanids.”

From the Daily Telegraph:
“A vet in Thailand claims to have fitted the world's first elephant false teeth, for a 60-year-old female in danger of starving to death. Somsak Jitniyom said his team had successfully supplied a denture made of stainless steel, silicone and plastic to Morakot, which had lost all its upper teeth and could not chew its diet of leaves, bamboo, sugar cane and bananas. Elephants have four sets of teeth in a lifetime, but after they lose the last they often die from malnutrition or starvation. Alex Spillius, Bangkok

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