Posts Tagged ‘humor’
Tel Aviv (AP) – In its latest report on what it calls Israeli intransigence, Peace Now calls attention to the Jewish State’s declared intent of maintaining itself despite opposition from hundreds of millions of opponents. Peace Now called the news “disappointing” and “yet another example of the Netanyahu administration’s willful political and demographic blindness.”
In advance of a visit to the area by US Secretary of State John Kerry, the Peace Now report covers numerous areas of Israeli activity as it affects the question of the dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It characterizes the Israeli assertion of the country’s right to exist as a way to establish certain facts on the ground that would make accommodation of any good-faith proposals by the secretary unlikely.
“Once again the radical right-wing government of Netanyahu and his ideological allies have demonstrated their complete unwillingness to consider dismantling the entire Zionist enterprise, which we have long maintained is the only just way to resolve the issues surrounding the Occupation of Palestinian territory,” the report’s conclusion reads. “Only by subjecting Jewish Israelis to expulsion, genocide and oppression at the hands of Palestinian hordes can this administration satisfactorily demonstrate its commitment to a negotiated peace.”
Former Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer said his organization focuses on Israeli settlement activity in the Occupied Territories, referring to all areas acquired by Israel in war. Since Israel secured its initial existence by defeating several invading as well as local armed groups, that definition applies to all areas currently under Israeli civilian or military rule.
“International Law does not distinguish between territories acquired in a defensive war and those captured in an offensive war,” explained Oppenhemier. “In which case all of the areas that the nascent Israeli armed forces secured in 1948 and 1949 are to be considered illegally occupied. The question of 1967, ” meaning the additional territories captured by Israel from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in a pre-emptive series of operations against amassing enemy forces, “is merely an extension of the same illegality inherent in Israel since the beginning.”
The report calls on Netanyahu to negotiate the complete relinquishing of all Israeli territory in good faith.
As its practice has always been the Netanyahu government ignored the Peace Now report, but others welcomed it. “We have been claiming the very same thing for generations now,” said Haled Mash’al, the now-retired head of Hamas, the Islamic militant movement that runs the Gaza Strip. “We are not wedded to the sword. If the Zionist entity would agree to destroy itself, we would let it do so unmolested.”
New York, New York, May 12 (AP) Condé-Nasty Publications announced today that starting next month it will begin selling a magazine aimed at the growing demographic of Porn-Again Christians, called Repenthouse. The magazine will come monthly to its subscribers and be available at nudesstands across the country.
With the release, Condé-Nasty thus hopes to penetrate the coveted demographic that worships Jizzus. A pokesman for the organization, Li Bido, said that Condé-Nasty had been probing the Porn Again market for some time, and biding its time until the moment was ripe to thrust itself onto the scene. “There’s a tremendous amount of exposure we can expect with this venture,” said Bido. “It’s not often that a mainstream publishing outfit seeks to establish itself as a presence in such a niche market, I’ll admit, but with our industry already strapped for cash, finding the sweet spot for our product can spread doors open wide for us in other arenas.”
Repenthouse represents a formidable risk for Condé-Nasty, however. If the magazine fails to penetrate the market to a significant degree, and does not stimulate sufficient subscriptions or sales to warrant its continued issue, the venture could showcase the publisher’s impotence or give it the stigmata of an outfit already on its knees.
“It’s an ambitious idea, I’ll give them that,” allowed Larry Flynt, an industry veteran with significant experience. “But they can’t exactly expect to be wearing divine protection. While I don’t yet see the Four Whoresmen of the Apocalypse breathing down their necks, but if sales are flaccid the whole enterprise will be blown to Kingdom Come,” he warned.
“But if they pull it off, I’ll be the first one to give them a hand; jobs are scarce enough, and anyone who can stimulate growth in this business will be snatching up profits,” he added.
At Condé-Nasty the mood is decidedly optimistic. “Things are definitely looking up for us – we have a few tricks left up our sleeves,” said President Lou Brickant. “Our religious values really come through with Repenthouse: our thrust in God and our fleshes of divine inspiration will be evident to any Porn Again reader. We have plenty of material over which our subscribers will want to linger – we don’t veneriate the saints the way Catholics do, but there’s a decided reverence for foreplague and the Sin-optic Gospels.”
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Washington, DC (AP) – In a dramatic shift pregnant with implications for the debate over the legality and morality of abortion, the Republican National Committee announced today that it intends to alter its attitude toward the issue: the rising number of homosexuals in American society means a greater proportion of fetuses are homosexual, and the GOP will therefore no longer oppose abortion.
“The problematic morality of aborting a fetus remains,” said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, at a press conference, “but on balance we give priority to the greater good of ridding our society of the evil of homosexuality; if it means aborting many fetuses to do so, we are willing to pay that price.” He cited other cases in which conservatives have supported sacrificing human life for higher goals, such as the 2003 Iraq invasion, which produced the societal benefit of enriched defense contractors and, at least temporarily, American control over oil-producing areas.
To some observers, the GOP shift was to be expected. “It was never really about abortion per se,” said Ann Coulter, a conservative commentator. “We conservatives talk about the sanctity of life quite a bit, but that’s just a simplification. If we cared about life so much we’d be all for expanding welfare and health care.” In fact, says Coulter, homosexuality is a greater threat to societal morality than abortion, since the most likely and numerous cases of abortion involve populations that the GOP wrote off long ago as irredeemably immoral: African-Americans, Latino immigrants, and anyone with an annual Adjusted Gross Income of less than $180,000.
While echoing Coulter’s assessment, other analysts cast the GOP’s change of position in starker demographic terms. “The Republican Party suffered an unexpected backlash this past November when their campaign strategy clearly indicated they view women, African-Americans, and Latinos as threats to society’s fiber, moral or economic,” explained Immie Grant, who writes about politics for The Los Angeles Times. “The election results gave the GOP a wake-up call about the future of America’s population: browner, poorer and in favor of greater government involvement in social affairs.”
Grant noted that some of the less scrupulous Republican rhetoric during and after election time accused the Democrats of registering illegal immigrants and others to vote. Although voter fraud accounted for an insignificant fraction of voter turnout, the demographic menace implied by that accusation made the Republicans realize they must act either to embrace those growing demographics with more a more solicitous platform, or combat the very growth of those populations. Since the number of unwanted pregnancies is high in those population sectors, the new GOP strategy will also have the effect of limiting the number of registered voters hostile to Republicans, to the tune of thousands per year.
In keeping with its confrontational stance of late, the party decided to stand up directly for the values it espouses, and elected to oppose the growth of those undesirable populations instead of appealing to them. The availability of abortions is but one prong in their strategy: others include maintaining the ban on narcotics and other controlled substances, which helps foster gang violence and reduce the number of inner-city residents available to compete with whites for coveted jobs and influence; and keeping firearms freely and easily available to increase the chances that those minorities will fall victim to the use of those weapons.
Coulter did note that the shift might bring the GOP on a collision course with more traditionally minded voters, especially in conservative Christian circles, and with the Catholic Church. She declined to speculate how the party will navigate the new set of considerations, but did mention that ideological integrity has never been a strong point with Republicans.
“Remember, this is the party that gave us a ‘fiscally conservative’ Reagan who increased government spending like no one before him,” she said.
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New Delhi, India (AP) – In the wake of several violent rapes over the last several months, the Indian government has announced a cap on horrifically brutal sexual assaults, limiting the number to 12 per year. The law will go into effect in January 2014.
The four-year-old victim of an April 17 rape in Madhya Pradesh died today, on the heels of a similarly brutal rape involving a five-year-old girl in New Delhi two weeks ago. Sexual assault of minors in India has become increasingly common in recent years, or at least have become increasingly reported. Two other cases of gang rapes made international headlines in December and January and sparked tumultuous protests across the country. Demonstrators accused the police and prosecutors of treating accused rapists leniently and turning a blind eye to the phenomenon.
The new legislation, formally ratified this morning, applies only to those “non-consensual sexual acts,” as the bill refers to them, that generate significant media coverage and spark public outcry. Theoretically, all twelve highly publicized annual beating-rapes or rapes of children could occur in the same month, as long as none occurred during the rest of that calendar year. And since the law only covers the assaults that make headlines, it will not affect the thousands of rapes that continue to occur.
“This is a call to rapists to be much more careful,” said Shewantsit Dontcarewatchusay, a Mumbai sociologist who has studied the issue extensively with the young offspring of his neighbors. “It would be too ambitious, I think, to call for a complete elimination of excessively violent rapes in so short a time, but anything to keep things quiet is a welcome step.”
Dontcarewatchusay expects further legislation in the same vein if the community of rapists and child molesters embraces the new law. The practice of highly publicized gang rape might fall out of disuse entirely if adherence to the new limits takes hold. “It’s in their interest to generate as little publicity as possible so they can continue their work,” he said of his fellow practitioners.
Some advocates have been agitating for more reform along different lines. Idowanna Takkabowdittagain, a lobbyist, represents a number of organizations that would prefer the simpler step of a ban on using social media to facilitate the unwanted publicity that has made these incidents so unpopular. The advantages of such a policy, she noted, have been demonstrated in locales such as North Korea, where not a single rape has been reported in international media in decades.
Others call for more sweeping measures. “If we outlaw women this problem would solve itself,” argues Missengh Deforestforthetrees, who leads a non-profit legal research foundation. He referred to similar initiatives in other countries, but concedes that India’s huge population might make implementation of the measure a formidable logistical challenge.
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Conservative commentators, even some typically loyal to the network, have lashed out at the news team for resorting to a complete picture instead of using half-truths in an effort to paint Democrats as immoral.
“Its a disgrace,” said Ann Coulter. “This is not what we’ve come to expect from FOX, and they’d better get their act together if they want to hold onto their conservative credentials.”
Glenn Beck, a former FOX host, concurred. “Facts are things you get from networks beneath contempt, such as CNN,” he said. “The cause of right-wing conservatism is badly served when the flagship network of the movement resorts to techniques and content unbecoming of its viewership and reputation.” He said the network could reestablish itself as independent of factual accuracy if it made a concerted effort, but only time would tell if it could sustain that effort.
In this case, a FOX reporter mentioned reputable medical statistics on gunshot injuries and deaths, statistics that unmistakably frame gun control as a public health issue worthy of consideration. After angry reactions from the National Rifle Association and from Merle and Lydia Guntherspoon of Texarkana, Arkansas, the network retracted the report.
Other news media organizations have also been accused of factual accuracy, and responded in various ways. Al Jazeera, for example, has found itself trying, often unsuccessfully, to negotiate the boundary between journalistic plausibility and anti-Israel bias.
Some outlets have developed strict policies to forestall such criticism. The British Broadcasting Corporation, though recently mired in an ethics scandal, has only rarely let facts get in the way of its reporting, most notably in the Middle East, thanks to a rigid policy of always portraying one side in a conflict as wrong, facts notwithstanding. It remains unclear whether FOX will tighten its guidelines – or at least the enforcement of existing ones, if any – or will simply let the incident slide and assume the prevailing corporate culture will prevent a recurrence.
“I can see them going either way, really,” said media analyst Leis Daly. “FOX wants to maintain its reputation, so they might work hard to keep the facts from intruding on their work. On the other hand, the demographic that gave rise to FOX’s success, and from which it draws its ethics, embodies a conservatism so powerful that actually doing anything to effect change runs counter to everything it holds dear.”
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Chicago, IL, April 24 (AP) – S, an infant born early last week, is already dreading the lifetime of hearing about the discomfort and trouble he caused his parents in the day leading up to his birth.
“I can’t wait for it to kick in,” remarked the nine-day-old, grimacing at the thought, or possibly at nothing. “You’d think world events, or actually amusing things, would make better fodder for conversation, but no, it’ll be decades before discussion of my mother’s experience with me peters out.”
His mother is expected to regale friends and acquaintances with the 34 hours of labor preceding S’s delivery by suction in the wee hours of last Sunday. After the postpartum period, when talk of the labor and delivery is typical of any birth aftermath, the mother’s relatively unusual travails will continue to be described when she wishes to contribute to a conversation about childbirth, or when she wishes to half-jokingly explain her child’s tendencies or behavior.
S’s fears are well founded, says Columbia University cultural anthropologist Beth Nossentrik. “The difficulty of a labor and delivery is a reliable predictor of the number of times the experience will be brought up in conversation,” she explained in a telephone interview. “For each additional hour of labor, a mother can be expected to tell her story an average of eleven times per year in the first four years, with the number gradually decreasing – unless she subsequently has more children, in which case the number actually increases by two until four years after the last child is born.”
According to Nossentrik, other factors can add to the number of times the narrative is rehashed. In this case, she says the fact the labor went on that long without a Cesarean Section being performed has the potential to add anywhere from six to eight occasions for relating the story over the next two years, and twice per year on average after that.
Chicago-area family therapist Hedda Schrinker concurs. “The statistics are pretty robust in that regard,” she said in an e-mail. “Mothers tend to want to share the unusual aspects of their childbirth experience. What I would also add is that the numbers tick up again slightly when she is about to become a grandmother, and do not really come down again,” unless she eventually suffers a stroke or other debilitating condition that removes her ability to communicate coherently.
S’s parents also feature the additional augmenting factor of friends in multiple far-flung places who will need the story repeated to them individually, as they will not be in position to hear it collectively. Shrinker has attempted to reassure S that his situation is not unique, and that many other perfectly dysfunctional parent-child relationships have weathered this sort of repeated rehashing.
“He kind of whined when I said that,” admitted Shrinker. “It reminds me of when I had my second daughter…” she began.
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New York, NY, April 19 (AP) – Responding to increasing pressure from parents, the Bloomberg administration announced this morning that it will begin penalizing people who offer advice to parents without being asked to do so. Additionally, people whose unsolicited remarks include implied or outright criticism will be subject to further fines.
At a press conference on the steps of City Hall, Mayor Bloomberg introduced the initiative, which he called Urban Parent-Youth Operation to Urge Restraint in Scolding (UPYOURS). UPYOURS, approval of which in the City Council is all but assured, will take effect in time for the more pleasant spring weather, when children and their parents return to playgrounds en masse, often attracting “helpful” comments from others.
“It’s high time we defend the good citizens of this city from the scourge of harassers,” said the mayor. He cited statistics compiled over the last decade which document a fourfold increase in the number of uninvited parenting critiques or remarks within the five boroughs. “As the most responsive administration this city has ever seen, our response is UPYOURS.”
Neighborhood parent associations had taken note of the increase and began petitioning the city to address the problem. “We parents have enough challenges living in this city,” said Getta Wayfromme, a Park Slope mother of two preschoolers. “Between the mommy-child yoga, the swimming lessons, the interrogation – I mean vetting – of possible caregivers and the shopping for stylish accessories, it’s tough enough as it is. We don’t need people implying that we’re not already giving our children the very best, let alone saying it outright.”
Not everyone is pleased with UPYOURS. Sharyn N. Karen, 54, of Williamsburg, says she has seen enough parents to know which ones are doing fine and which ones could use some helpful guidance. “People don’t like to admit it, but they need other people,” said the childless, single artist. “It’s just good that there are people such as I to helpfully correct the errors of others’ ways, such as when they fail to impart when to use the phrase, ‘such as I’ instead of ‘like me.’”
Other provisions of the city ordinance include: greater leniency for advice-givers who have children the same age as the parent receiving the comments, all the more so if the children have been playing together for more than thirty seconds; additional fines for belittling or dismissing the anxiety of a parent over his or her child’s possibly fatal food allergies; and mandatory jail sentences for lecturing on the benefits of cloth diapers or for treating breastfeeding in public as objectionable.
At the press conference, Bloomberg praised the parents who first proposed UPYOURS. “This city has always benefited from citizens who understand where public action is necessary and where things are best left in the realm of the individual. As this administration has made clear before, it is not the place of other individuals to tell people how to live their lives.”
“That’s the city’s job,” he said.
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Washington, DC (AP) – For the first time in two decades, the government has increased the minimum number of supermarket checkout lanes that must be closed at one time, raising it to 4 from 3. The law applies to supermarkets that have at least 6 checkout lanes.
The law, dubbed the American Supermarket Standard Hampering Of Line Expediency, aims to maintain a certain level of customer dissatisfaction. “If the American supermarket consumer experiences too much efficiency, we run the risk of greater spending, which in turn contributes to inflation,” explained the bill’s sponsor, Fred Upton (R-MI). “While we’re working so hard to rein in the deficit, it makes no sense for us to be encouraging freewheeling spending on the part of Mr. and Mrs. America, so this is a natural move.”
The bill passed by a large margin in both houses, owing to bipartisan disdain for people who actually have to visit supermarkets, the overwhelming majority of whom do not make political campaign contributions. Retail groups lobbied heavily in favor of the law, preferring to have the option of blaming restrictions imposed from the outside for unpleasant conditions in their stores.
A provision of the law also clarifies the procedures for “express” lanes. Under the previous law, passed in 1981, strict rules prevented supermarkets from calling anything greater than 15 items “express,” with exceptions for multiple units of the same item. Under the new law, an additional provision mandates at least two delays of at least three minutes each for each item fewer than the express ceiling.
For example, if the lane maximum is 10 items or fewer and a customer wished to purchase only seven items, the cashier will be required to find some problem that takes an extra nine minutes to resolve before he or she may complete the transaction and accept the next customer. The bill gives a list of such possible problems but allows for the supermarket management to add to the list at its discretion.
Included in the list are running out of receipt paper, deciding it is time to replenish one or more of the small change denominations, and difficulty with authorizing a particular purchase – or any other difficulty that would necessitate calling over an already-occupied management figure.
Macomb Waite-Moore, manager of a Safeway in Portland, Oregon, greeted the news of the law’s passage with circumspection. “Fact is, we’ve been doing this kind of thing for years in any case.”
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