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Archive for August 2013

Russia Would Not Get In Way If World Decides Not To Strike Syria

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Russian flagMoscow, Russia August 28 (AP) – Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov told reporters at a press conference this evening that if the Western powers decide to abandon their intention to launch strikes against its ally Syria, Russia would not impede the move.

A longtime supporter of embattled Syrian leader Basher Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed his foreign policy team not to oppose the supporters of the Syrian rebels in the event that those allies decide to continue not aiding the rebels militarily against Assad’s forces. The death toll in the two-year-old conflict has surpassed 100,000.

The announcement marks a clear shift in Russian strategy, which until now has focused on countering Western efforts to bolster Assad’s opponents. The new approach, says Near East Institute analyst Mark Mywords, takes a more circumspect approach that recognizes other countries’ ability not to intervene. For some countries, their ability even exceeds that of Russia, though the US and Iran, historically, have been loath to use it.

“What we’re seeing is a new appreciation by the Kremlin that sometimes the most effective form of inaction is to let others perform the non-action,” he explained. “In the rush to abandon much of the Communist government legacy, Russia was quick to let go of generations-old incentives not to do anything. But a resurgence of nostalgia for the simpler old times, as rough as they were, has prompted the leadership to revisit many of the Soviet practices such as providing no reason to do things at all, since the end result will be the same anyway,” he continued.

Syria flagThe change presents Washington and other Western governments with a new opportunity not to act, coming as hundreds of thousands of Americans have made a point not to demand US action. The Obama administration continues to weigh its options on how best not to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, despite a vow by Obama that any such development would not be tolerated by the international community.

Discreetly getting out of the way of someone else’s not doing anything has a venerable history, according to military historian Anne Nabler, author of See No Evil, See No Evil. “Perhaps the most famous example of not standing in the way of non-action is the world’s reaction to Hitler’s annexation of the the Czechoslovakian Sudetendland in 1938,” she wrote in an e-mail. “But history is rife with nations standing idly by while other nations stand idly by.”

Written by Thag

August 29, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Traffic Moves At Over 30 MPH On BQE; Scientists Baffled

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Above, the BQE as conceived in 1930 by Robert Moses; below, the BQE last week.

Above, the BQE as conceived in 1930 by Robert Moses; at left, the BQE last week.

BQE traffic 2Brooklyn, August 27 (AP)  – The laws of physics were thought to make it impossible, but this afternoon, vehicles on a stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway were clocked at a full 33 miles per hour.

At approximately 1 p.m., the westbound side of the roadway just beyond the Kosciuszco Bridge had cars and trucks moving at the highest speed ever recorded on a major Brooklyn thoroughfare, let alone the BQE, which was specifically designed by Robert Moses not to allow any vehicle to reach speeds in excess of 30 mph. Eyewitnesses alerted police cruisers, which used radar, to confirm the bystanders’ suspicions: at least one hundred vehicles attained speeds between 30 and 33 miles per hour for nearly eighty feet before again succumbing to congestion, potholes, confusing signage, worn out markings, glare from office tower windows, and a team of semi-trailers specifically tasked with taking up space in order to slow traffic.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” gushed Fishel Horowitz of nearby Boro Park, who travels along that route every weekday on the way to his jewelry store in Midtown Manhattan. “I got one look at the speedometer thingie and said to my carpool mate Moishe, ‘Moishe, you got to see this! Look at this!’ He barely had time to see the needle point past the thirty before we hit traffic again, but there it was, plain as day.”

Police spokesman Crowne Victoria told reporters that several officers had recorded radar speed readings in excess of the 30-mph plateau, indicating that the witnesses’ reports were correct. “This represents an exciting, and, at the same time, troubling development, a sign that the measures in place to keep the BQE crowded, miserable, and murderously frustrating may not be sufficient,” he said at a news conference.

Enoch Cain, a professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University, echoed police concerns, and added that according to his preliminary calculations, the odds of such an occurrence are longer than those of [New York Yankees third baseman] Alex Rodriguez becoming likable. “Really, we should see the Mets win the World Series six times in a row, starting this year, before we ever see traffic moving like that on the BQE.”

Previously, the highest speed reached by a vehicle on any of the outer borough roadways was a child’s Flexible Flyer sled coasting down an exit ramp of the Grand Central Parkway near Astoria, Queens, just after the blizzard of January 7, 1996. The sled, operated by then-ten-year-old Sumaya Khan, achieved a velocity of 27 miles per hour before encountering the powerful magnets under the road surface that keep cars from accelerating too much, lest their occupants get to their destination in a timely fashion.

Victoria noted that the NYPD has had a fleet of cruisers deployed around the clock just to prevent the expressway from becoming anything other than an unpleasant place to drive. “First of all, it was constructed in Brooklyn and Queens, which should already turn off anyone with a sense of aesthetics, or just plain sense. Add to that the fleets of vehicles specifically devoted to blocking, slowing, and endangering everyone. then you have the fact that it was built inland, not along the water, where there would have been plenty of room. And you have all the constant construction.”

Victoria did note that the continued success of the BQE interdiction policy rests on the population of Brooklyn and Queens remaining as clueless, masochistic, or some combination thereof, as it has always been. “Fortunately, we see no sign of that changing,” he said, pointing to Williamsburg residents who pay obscene amounts for coffee with pretentious names.

Written by Thag

August 28, 2013 at 12:07 am

44% Of Broken Backs Result From Kid Stepping On A Crack

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step on a crackAtlanta, August 23 (AP) – The Centers for Disease Control has announced new findings in orthopedic research, noting that nearly half of the vertebral fractures among mothers occur subsequent to their child treading upon a crack in the pavement or the space where one piece of flooring meets another.

In a paper to be published in next week’s New England Journal of Medicine, the CDC team outlines its analysis of hospital orthopedics department statistics, which the study says indicate a close correlation between offspring crack-stepping and maternal spine fractures. The study authors did caution that the time interval between the stepping and the breaking has not yet been defined, but that the team currently believes it ranges from fractions of a second to several years.

“The implications of this study are obvious,” noted the lead author, Dr. Mo Thergus. “Beyond mere aesthetics and road safety, proper maintenance of road, sidewalk, and flooring surfaces can now be understood as a bona fide public health concern.”

Houston-area physician Allie Oxenfree, who was not involved in the study, agrees. “My orthopedic clinic sees a good number of back injuries among mothers, and one of my first questions is always, ‘Has your child been stepping on cracks recently?’ It’s been anecdotal for some time, and it’s good to see the CDC doing real clinical research to pin down this important injury factor.”

Others would like to see more research before they are prepared to accept the link between crack-stepping and back fractures. “We saw the same rush to judgment when alligator purses were linked to the likelihood of a doctor-nurse team paying housecalls,” said Lucy Steamboat, currently the head of pediatric orthopedics at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York. “But it turns out the sample size for that study was small, and it involved only fourth-grade girls with a sense of rhythm.”

 

Written by Thag

August 24, 2013 at 12:45 am

TMI Dept. Releases Data On No. Of Used Tampons In Restroom

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underwearWashington, DC (AP) – The Department of Too Much Information has published its findings on the contents of wastebaskets in its bathroom facilities, and preliminary analysis of the data indicates an increase during the last year in the number of women menstruating at any given time.

Last year the Department counted 45 used tampons and other menstruation-related products in the wastebaskets of the women’s rooms at its headquarters during the month of July. This year, that figure increased by 12. The preliminary report does not provide a detailed treatment of the number of such products that were flushed down the toilet in violation of Department restroom policy. Flushing tampons or pads down the toilet can clog the plumbing system, which you discovered several months ago when your prim old aunt was visiting and fell victim to a sewage deluge that resulted from your disposal of those products in the toilet.

The increase in on-the-job menstruation appears unrelated to the number of women currently employed at the Department’s headquarters, says TMI spokeswoman Ima Noversharer. “Our staff has remained more or less the same since last year’s numbers were collated, and I’ve got this awful case of hemorrhoids.”

Last month’s report focused on the number of used tissues and the color of the mucus they contained, but it was the first such instance of such data collection, so there are no previous figures against which to compare them. They will, however, serve as a benchmark for future collations. The next used-tissue collection and analysis is scheduled for November, followed again by regular such analyses every five months. The report also includes a map of every booger wiped on every underside of every desk and chair in the headquarters, with charts and graphs to track color, size, moistness, adhesion, and, where possible, the identity of the provider.

Advances in DNA testing have allowed that last item to be accomplished more affordably than when such a proposal was first made eight years ago. At the time, researchers had to painstakingly gather each booger sample for time-consuming lab tests, whereas now, a simple swab of the substance in question can provide all the necessary data and does not disturb the booger’s final resting place.

The May report featured a detailed description of the benign, yet unsightly, cyst on the side of the nose of the head security guard in the East Wing of the headquarters complex. Updates on the cyst, plus additional sightings of other deviations from the normative aesthetic, will be a regular feature of reports starting in December, when Secretary of Too Much Information Don Sayett is scheduled to have an embarrassingly public bout of dysentery,

Written by Thag

August 21, 2013 at 5:22 am

Appendix Has Inflamed Elton John Removed

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Elton JohnMonaco (AP) – Facing a growing threat from the development of an Elton John around it, an appendix has had the musician surgically removed. The surgery took place two weeks ago in Monaco.

In recent weeks the Elton John tissues in the vicinity of the appendix had become inflamed, and antibiotics became necessary to keep the John from causing further, possibly irreversible or fatal, damage to the appendix. Surgeons performed the operation after the regimen of medications had forestalled the immediate danger.

The appendix characterized the growth of the multiple Grammy Award winner as a “ticking time bomb” that posed a mortal threat. While the danger was very real, however, surgery to remove such parasitic entities from appendixes are exceedingly routine, and no complications were reported in this case.

As a result of the successful operation, the appendix has been spared having to go with an attached Elton John to the ceremony granting the singer the Brits Icon Award, where it would risk exposure to perilous levels of glurge, hyperbole, flattery, shallowness, gossiping, and vanity.

Written by Thag

August 14, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Shakespeare Baffled By English Teacher’s Analysis of His Work

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361px-Romeoandjuliet1597Stratford-Upon-Avon, England (AP) – The Bard of Avon expressed befuddlement this week at all of the symbolism and interpretation of his work by Long Island eighth-grade schoolteacher Barbara Kass.

For years, Mrs. Kass has been studying various works by the Elizabethan poet and playwright with her middle-school English literature class, often choosing Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth. In her explication of the material, the teacher often points out literary devices, imagery, and occurrences of irony or foreshadowing that Shakespeare himself did not intend. As a result, says the Bard, the effect of the play in question becomes obscured or distorted in the minds of the preadolescent and adolescent students, he asserts.

“By my troth, this wench doth confound and conflate,” observed the greatest writer the English language has ever seen. “Teach she must not, grades seven nor eight.” He cited numerous instances of Kass’s imputation of meaning where none existed, and of completely missing the point.

“Wherefore doth she ignore the intended offense of Rosaline becoming a nun?” he wondered. “Wherefore would she deprive her disciples of the apprehension that the fair Capulet niece conveys to the protagonist that she would sooner remove herself from all men than concede to a coupling with him? Is the intent not clear as a summer’s day?”

“What man or woman of thirteen years would would relish not such a barb?” he continued.

As for Kass’s insistence on reading into Shakespeare’s use of light and dark in contrast to symbolize the love and hate that bring the lovers together and ultimately keep them apart, respectively, the Bard admits nothing of the sort. “What ho! That the brawling be in daytime and he trysts at night, would she read as poesy? Brigandess! Villainess! Impute not what thou imputest, foul teacher-woman! For it be nary more than simple convenience of the plot!”

A similar instance occurred several years ago when Dr. William Lee, a professor of English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, saw Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea as a political allegory of the Jewish struggle for a homeland in the territory of Palestine, foreseeing decades of ultimately Pyrrhic struggle to control the land and the hostile Arabs within and around it. The author, who committed suicide in 1962, made his displeasure known.

The same happened when Herman Melville denounced most of the literary analysis of his Moby Dick, insisting that is was simply a good story of an eccentric sea captain, if somewhat long-winded.

Written by Thag

August 14, 2013 at 4:09 am

Preschooler Doesn’t Get What He Wants; World Ends

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What used to be Phoenix, Arizona, August 4 (AP) – Human civilization ceased to exist this morning (Sunday) after Jon Swarz, 4, of Scottsdale, was not given what he demanded.

While Jon’s mother was preparing a wholesome lunch consisting of homemade broccoli pizza and a side of carrot sticks, the pre-K student requested a chocolate ice cream cone. His mother, Beth, gently refused, reassuring Jon that there would be plenty of time later in the day for a treat, but now was time for lunch.

Unwillling to accept this rebuff, the junior Swarz continued to agitate for the creamy frozen delicacy, proclaiming the he was uninterested in lunch and wanted a chocolate ice cream cone forthwith. His mother set down the carrots she was slicing and threatened to send the young man to his room without lunch if he continued to behave in such an unbecoming manner.

Details are still sketchy on the events that then occurred, but the available evidence indicates that as soon as Jon discovered that his wishes would go unfulfilled, massive earthquakes struck major population centers and volcanic eruptions flooded low-lying regions with deadly hot lava. In this initial apocalyptic wave, approximately 800 million people perished in fear and pain.

Almost immediately afterwards, when Jon was on his way to his room, several asteroids the size of Iowa, with one more of them at least as big as Montana, entered Earth’s atmosphere and impacted at points in the Americas, Africa, Northern Europe, Japan, and eight locations across China. While living things directly in the paths of these interstellar rocks were incinerated even before direct impact, the kinetic energy and atmospheric disturbances wrought by the asteroids resulted in conflagrations that consumed thousands of square miles of woodlands, farms, and residential areas throughout the world. This second episode of destruction claimed an additional three billion lives. Among the victims were Jon’s parents, who failed to foresee the calamity that would be the inevitable result of refusing to honor their son’s wishes.

tsar bombAs the earthquakes and fires continued, the entire world’s nuclear stockpile detonated simultaneously, leveling all remaining cities, melting the polar ice caps, and inundating coastal regions up to fifty miles inland. Radiation poisoning quickly set in among the few surviving humans, condemning them to a brief, miserable time until death claimed them, as well.

Although this is the first time that the human population has been completely wiped out as a result of a preschooler not getting what he wanted, there have been several close calls. In 1980, Melanie Carter, 3, of Montreal, sneaked into the living room and turned on the television set in defiance of her parents’ explicit instructions to go to bed at once. Ms. Carter’s initiative narrowly averted the sun transforming into a red giant and making life on Earth impossible.

Similarly, in approximately 2500 BCE, a deluge of Biblical proportions erased all human life except for one family. That catastrophe occurred when one of that family’s sons was ignored by a parent who was too busy building a wooden boat to properly address little Ham’s request for an extra bit of pigeon steak with olives. Only when that need was finally met did the waters begin to recede in earnest.

Only ten generations later, four cities in what is today the Dead Sea region were annihilated by fire and brimstone when a young woman was refused some salt with her flatbread.

Prospects remain unclear for a reestablishment of human life on Earth, but public opinion seems not to be in favor of such a development, as it would most likely entail another plague of people with an overgrown sense of entitlement.

Written by Thag

August 12, 2013 at 8:06 pm

University Hopes Sex Scandal A Boon To Recruitment Among Pedophiles

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yuhsbNew York, August 11 (AP) – Still reeling from revelations that the institution covered up and did not adequately address allegations that members of its staff had abused high school students in its care in the 1980’s, the Yeshiva University leadership nevertheless sees a silver lining to the scandal.

The flagship institution of the Modern Orthodox movement in Judaism anticipates that its emerging history of treating pedophile faculty with kid gloves will attract other potential teachers to its high school, teachers in search of an environment that better accommodates their attraction to adolescent males.

“This episode could really work in our favor,” said Dr. Seth Taylor, Principal of General Studies at the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy, the high school in question. “There are untold numbers of educators out there who could expose our students to everything imaginable, but who are deterred by the potential career and personal fallout from their tendencies.”

“But now that it turns out YU – and the boys’ high school in particular – has been friendly to those who have a more open way of expressing attraction to teenage boys, we fully expect to find quality applicants for teaching positions who would be afraid to apply anywhere else,” he concluded.

Head of School Rabbi Michael Taubes concurs. “MTA has unwittingly placed itself in the vanguard of institutions vying for the experience  – both inside and outside the classroom – that this uncharted demographic can get a better feel than most for the students’ bodies – I mean the student body,” said Taubes, who assumed his current position during the previous school year, referring to the boys’ high school by the initials by which it is popularly known.

In the cases that received recent media attention, several men who attended MTA in the 1980’s charged that the school had ignored their accusations that the principal at the time had engaged in inappropriate physical activities with students, such as wrestling; the principal and another faculty member were quietly advised to resign, and found employment in other Jewish high schools elsewhere in the country. YU declined to inform those institutions of the questionable background to those former employees’ resignations.

In a letter marking his retirement as Chancellor of the university, this year Dr. Norman Lamm, who served as president when the faculty members were accused of the misconduct, acknowledged that he and other administration figures mishandled the cases. In a response to that portion of the letter, current YU president Richard Joel honored Dr. Lamm’s expression of regret, but asserted that in fact the erstwhile scandal would in the end benefit Yeshiva by demonstrating its longtime commitment to protecting faculty who stray.

“Recent events in academia have shown what top-notch educators and leaders can do for our children when left unmolested,” wrote Joel, making reference to the saga of Penn State University athletics figure Jerry Sandusky. “We at Yeshiva fully resolve to pioneer a new avenue in the recruitment of faculty, drawing those teachers to us who would be uncomfortable anywhere else.”

Written by Thag

August 12, 2013 at 6:36 am

TSA Agent Treats Traveler Courteously; Agency To Revamp Procedures

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TSANew York, August 3 (AP) – After Barney Willis, a Transportation Security Administration screener New York’s La Guardia Airport was caught treating travelers with dignity and politeness, the agency has promised to crack down on such rogue agents who violate standard operating procedure.

On Tuesday, July 30, undercover TSA agents conducted an operation to test the adherence of its La Guardia screeners to agency procedures. While preliminary results of that investigation point to the overall acceptability of the agents’ conduct, Mr. Willis, a two-year veteran of the agency, was caught addressing travelers without the required disdain, and not even pretending to steal from the luggage he was checking, despite full knowledge among the airport’s personnel that the TSA stations are continuously monitored by closed-circuit TV to ensure that the minimum theft quotas are met.

In eleven separate cases, Willis was observed greeting travelers warmly and apologizing for the invasion of their personal space and property, actions that constitute a serious breach of TSA agent guidelines, says agency director John S. Pistole, who has promised to restructure the entire TSA agent training regimen as a result of this incident.

“We cannot have travelers encountering any agent who is not surly, dismissive, bored, demoralized, or at least grossly incompetent,” he said at a press conference held at the site of the violations. Pistole sad Agent Willis has been suspended with pay, pending a review of his conduct since he began working at La Guardia last year.

The event marks the sixth incident is as many months that travelers at a major metropolitan airport have not been guaranteed a demeaning, utterly unpleasant security screening. In February, when the climate control system broke down in one of the terminals at Chicago’s O’hare Airport, agents were heard apologizing to travelers for the discomfort, and exhibiting actual empathy. Empathy is specifically barred under Section III of the TSA training manual.

Then, in March and April, agents were recorded on video as assisting a traveler in repacking a suitcase that had opened and spilled its contents after the passenger had passed her security check. In both cases, the agents were given a disciplinary hearing but not penalized, as the attractiveness of the passenger was seen by the oversight committee as a mitigating circumstance.

Twice in May, undercover TSA agents were checking the incompetence of security screeners at Los Angeles’s LAX Airport, and discovered that the security check failed to detect the fake bombs or guns only 20% of the time, representing a severe flaw in the execution of proper procedures. Agency guidelines mandate that at least 70% of hazardous materials smuggled onto aircraft remain undetected. In fact, according to TSA data, in May and June only the personnel at Logan Airport in Boston and Newark, New Jersey, were able to reach that mark.

Also in June, an agent at Ronald Reagan International Airport near Washington repeatedly refused bribes to let several suspicious-looking travelers through unchecked. the travelers were undercover agents, who quickly reported the offending agent to his superior. The agent was soon reassigned to other duties, where his job is to puncture the tires of cars in the long-term parking lots.

Written by Thag

August 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm

FBI Uncovers Conspiracy To Deprive Your Blog Of Traffic

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FBI sealArlington, Virginia, August 2 (AP) – Federal investigators have unearthed a plot to keep internet users from visiting your blog, FBI spokesman Shelby Cummin-Rounthmountain announced at a press conference today.

In February, the FBI’s Online Investigative Division received an informant’s tip to the effect that a shadowy group of conspirators had, for at least six months, if not much longer, diverted potential visitors to your blog, and continues to do so. The investigation is still in progress, but Cummin-Rounthmountain said they were nevertheless allowed to offer certain specifics to the news media, including the fact that most of the members of this alleged cabal operate from overseas.

The Bureau was prompted to recruit an informant after you observed repeatedly that by all rights, your blog should enjoy significantly higher levels of popularity and acclaim, given the manifest quality of your work. However, despite significant time and emotion invested in this project, traffic to your blog has never exceeded 633 page views in a single day, and that figure represents an outlier. The median number of visits per day is actually 28, with only six days in the last three years in which your blog attracted more than 100 views.

FBI Director Roberst S. Mueller III immediately ordered an investigation. According to the rudimentary details offered to the press, agents have documented hundreds of cases in which your posts were removed from display on the relevant category pages within minutes. Your efforts at finding the right blend of category tags to help users navigate toward your urbane useful, and well-presented material proved for naught, as this group of online pirates forcibly pushed your posts off the front page by stuffing those sites with a barrage of inane, meandering, badly-written posts by other users.

The FBI is exploring the possibility that these blog-stuffing posts were written by bots programmed to detect when you posted. This would serve to explain why so little of the traffic your site does attract comes from the users of the same blogging platform. In addition, fellow users who have actually subscribed to your blog seldom actually see your posts unless they make an effort to do so, which deprives you of the page views you so clearly deserve, no doubt about it. One possible angle of investigation of this issue involves collusion with these criminals from within the blogging platform enterprise itself, who for some unfathomable reason will not allow you to realize your dreams of becoming a blogging superstar. Perhaps jealousy is the motive, the FBI suggests.

However, says Cummin-Rounthmountain, the activities of this conspiracy extend beyond the boundaries of WordPress or Blogger, or whatever stupid platform you use. When you – or, on those all-too-rare occasions, someone else – shares a post of yours on other social media such as Facebook or Twitter, it still goes all but ignored. This, the FBI asserts, suggests a much broader effort to silence you and frustrate your ambitions. It simply cannot be, they reason, that there is so much other compelling material on the internet that yours would go effectively ignored.

This is not the first time that the FBI has investigated crimes of this nature. The case remains open on who exactly is behind the popularity of certain TV shows with no recognizable merit whatsoever, such as The Kardashians. Similarly, several dozen soft drink industry executives face federal felony charges for defrauding the public by convincing them that there is actually an appreciable difference between Pepsi and Coca Cola.

Written by Thag

August 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Hansel & Gretel Witch Criticized For High-Fructose Corn Syrup

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Yaga, in an undated portrait.

Yaga, in an undated portrait.

Bonn, Germany (AP) – German health authorities are investigating allegations that, in contravention of European Union health guidelines, the witch who lures children into her candy-and-cake house in order to cook and eat them uses high-fructose corn syrup to prepare the sweets and confections. High-fructose corn syrup is banned in the EU.

Yaga, the witch, lives in the Black Forest, and has for centuries practiced cannibalism of wandering children, whom she attracts by means of the candies and cakes that compose much of her cottage. Ministry of Health inspectors made a visit to Yaga’s residence yesterday and took samples of the candy roof tiles, candy cane window frames, cookie doorknobs and swabbings of various other foodstuffs used in the construction of the house and its furnishings.

The samples have been transferred to a laboratory in Baden-Baden, and investigators expect results by the middle of next week. A portion of the samples have also been sent to the central EU Health Directorate investigative division in Maastricht, the Netherlands, where parallel analysis will take place, according to Directorate spokesman Jüve Gottebekidding.

“Technically this matter is still under the jurisdiction of the German internal authorities, but as a courtesy they customarily collect enough material in their investigations to share with us so we can double-check their findings,” said Gottebekidding. “Since in this case it’s a small-scale operation, not a major pan-European enterprise, the Directorate sees no need to get directly involved.” Punitive measures against the witch, if they prove warranted, will be a matter for the German authorities to determine.

Yaga herself was unavailable for comment, but her attorney, Jan Derwindobreks, says his client denies any wrongdoing. “Yaga has been using the same locally available ingredients since she began luring children to their deaths hundreds of years ago,” he insisted. Derwindobreks says he and his client are confident the investigation will exonerate Yaga, and she will be able to return to her practice of attracting helpless children into her lair, fattening them up, and cooking them.

While the investigation is in progress, Yaga is barred from further production of sweets. As the candies are an integral part of the witch’s roof and other building elements, Derwindobreks laments that his client must resort to standard building materials in order to replace the pieces that children eat before they are lured inside, and she lacks the experience to properly install each item. As a result, the structural integrity of the house is in peril.

Health Ministry spokesman Willy Kwitchergreipen said the injunction was temporary, pending the outcome of the investigation, and that it is standard practice. “We make no exceptions when it comes to our regular procedure – as soon as Ms. Yaga is cleared of malfeasance in this regard we will rescind the injunction and she may return to her customary production of sweets – provided they contain no high-fructose corn syrup.”

The ingredient, a modified form of glucose syrup derived from corn, has been associated with diabetes and other ills, and was banned by EU authorities two years ago. Most European confection manufacturers have readily complied, though the added expense and logistical hurdles inherent in switching to other forms of sugar have proved troublesome. According to Kwitchergreipen, it remains unclear where Yaga may have obtained the syrup, as imports of it have been barred since the ban went into effect and it has only been available from major industrial suppliers. None of those suppliers has had any of the syrup in stock since then, he said.

“It remains possible that, if in fact we find evidence that Ms. Yaga used high-fructose corn syrup, she synthesized it herself.” Investigators did document the presence in the house of several types of equipment that could be used in the production of high-fructose corn syrup, such as cauldrons, stirring implements, and brooms, the bottoms of which are often made of broom corn.

If found in violation of the regulations, Yaga faces a fine of up to 50,000 Euros and will be prohibited from manufacturing confections. Derwindobreks is confident that she will be found to have complied all along, but worries that if the investigation concludes she used the banned substance, she will be left with no other means to sustain herself.

“She could starve,” he warned.

Written by Thag

August 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm