Thursday, January 10, 2008

Headline Crawl 4

'05 Use of Gas By Blackwater Leaves Questions - Questions like why is a State Department contractor using tear gas on a crowd that includes US soldiers on guard duty?. Why do these guys even have gas? After this incident, their ration of baked beans should be limited.

Ireland: Inquiry Into Drinking Laws - Justice Minister Brian Lenihan calls for repeal of the daily two drink minimum that has long defined the national character, provoking national outrage and drunken rioting in several major cities. Seriously, Lenihan decried a national problem with binge drinking and called for a study of current laws on sale and distribution of alcohol. News in Ireland, but really, NY Times, would this be in your headlines if the Justice Minister of any other country had made the same announcement?

Pirate Attacks Increase in 2007 - Angered by the rising tide of pirate humor, buccaneers bumped up their swashbuckling stats by more than 10% over 2006. An anonymous pirate, who asked to be identified only as Hillarrrrrrrrry, broke down in tears while talking to this reporter - "It's just not fairrrrrr. We don't all have peg legs and talk with rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrolling rrrrrrrrrrrs. And the whole parrrrrrrrot thing is just so ridiculous, it really hurts sometimes."

Second Escapee From New Jersey Jail Is Arrested in Mexico - Otis Blunt was seized in a cheap Mexico City Hotel. Jose Espinosa was captured a day earlier in an apartment near the jail in Elizabeth, NJ. As Good As News pictures these guys tunnelling gleefully a la Shawshank redemption, covering their entrance with a poster of Jessica Alba, scrawling a sarcastic thank you to the poor guard who didn't notice, then - free at last. Oops, unlike Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, they have no secret bank account skimmed from the warden and no tropical Eden awaits them. Hint to prisoners, when you're on the outside you need more than Al Sharpton's phone number.

Consultant Questions Beijing's Claim of Cleaner Air - Steven Q. Andrews, a Princeton In Asia fellow who worked in Beijing with the National Resources Defense Counsel, has concluded that "irregularities" in the pollution measurement system have allowed Beijing to meet environmental targets linked to the upcoming Olympics. Government official Du Shaozong responded. Without rebutting any of the specifics in the Q's detailed critique, Du noted that sky's were indisputably bluer and promised that with patience and reeducation the small group of people who did not understand this fact would eventually understand. Ah the joys of a one party system and captive press - Mr. Du's blather does not seem to have encountered any follow-up questions. So, kudos to Q, kudonts to Du.

Blog Takes Failed Marriage Into Fight Over Free Speech - A divorce judge in Vermont has ordered blogger William Krasnansky to take down posts that offer a "fictionalized" view of his wife, who initiated divorce proceedings. His postings include entries from her journal. Ouch. Sympathies to the wife, but by obtaining a restraint on free speech and making a constitutional case out of it, she has put the husband's blog in the NY Times when otherwise it would have been read by 4 people in Vermont. If minimizing her embarassment was the goal, doing nothing about the blog would have attracted a lot less attention. A suit for damages based on libel, copyright infringement and invasion of privacy, with no request for an order censoring the blog, might have scared the husband into taking the posts down voluntarily while the suit was pending. Instead she asked for, and got, a broad order to take down the offending posts and cease putting up new ones, generating national publicity for a blog that's still up and running. Be careful what you wish for.

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