CIA to accidental torture victim: oops! And other news

    Poor you. You’re racked with guilt (the cake you stole from the dinning hall, then shoved into your grubby little mouth? I saw that. At least you’re not eating humans yet), you miss your pet titi monkey, and midterms are killer. When an intravenous feed of vodka is the only way you can make it through the day, keep thinking positive: Your shaming isn’t public yet! But for the long-term, good therapy is expensive, so start saving up.

    Abuse aficionados at the CIA cause accidental agony

    Mistaken identity is comedy gold for lazy sitcom writers. But even the BBC couldn’t have pulled off the misidentification in the CIA’s latest episode.

    The setup: There’s the German national Khalid El-Masri, a used-car salesman and father of four, five, or maybe six children, depending on who you ask, who’s not that creepy; there’s also terrorist Khalid al-Masri. Get it? They share the same name! They’re bound to get confused for each other!

    The catalyst: Cue our confuzzled compatriots of the CIA who want to catch the conniving con, but end up snatching the innocent father instead. What makes this so funny is that it’s a mistake anyone could have made. And at first look, it’s simple to see how the mix up could’ve so easily been overlooked: They both have the same name, they’re both men — and it sort of ends about there.

    After dragging our puzzled protagonist from Macedonia, where he was traveling, to a secret prison in Afghanistan, our unperceptive persecutors proceeded to punch, pound, and pummel him. After five months, they flew him to Albania and dropped him off on a deserted road, without explanation or providing him a way to get back to his home in Germany.

    He then sues, but the Supreme Court last week refused to hear El-Masri’s case, implicitly accepting the US’ invocation of the “state secrets” defense. In the 23-years of the Cold War, the US pulled this privilege 6 times; since 2001, it’s used it 39 times.

    The story is such a side-splitting scream that I can barely type between chortles!

    Moscow drivers under the influence of firepower

    Moscow has recently gotten more dangerous for the average guy on the street. On your next visit, be sure to include: an Ushanka (get a stylish Russian fur hat here), a rocket propelled grenade, and a bullet-proof vest. Because as the traffic congestion and road rage builds, some activist citizens are taking back the streets with firepower.

    To deal with pesky pedestrians, some Russians (ok, so maybe only two crazy ones) have traded in obscene gestures for obscenely disproportionate reactions: In two weeks, there have been two cases of pedestrians shot at by irritated drivers.

    At a crosswalk, a place intended for street-crossing, three pedestrians were crossing the street last Tuesday when an angry 29-year-old Azerbaijani man shouted at them from his car to hurry up. When they didn’t respond to his liking, he pulled out a pistol and shot them.

    This driver’s reaction doesn’t make sense, so I have indulged what’s left of my beleaguered imagination (it’s weathered four midterms this week) and now present a plausible explanation for this “crazy” behavior. My theory: This guy is Russia’s 2008 Olympics judge for track and field, and he was displeased with the street-crossers’ ill-executed form of crossing streets; he held up his warning pistol, unaware that it fired actual bullets, and shot to warn them to pay more attention to speed over style.

    Or maybe he was shooting a victory round in celebration of Knut finally standing up without falling over? How cute.

    Disabled and dangerous in Florida: parks ban Segways

    Segways are complex and hazardous machines, and should only be operated by trained professionals. That’s probably why Disney World and SeaWorld have banned their visitors from using Segways.

    In an ill-conceived attempt at clever wordplay, one Disney spokeswoman said, “We’re not turning people away. We’re turning away a particular form of transportation.” Apparently the havoc that Segway users would unleash on Main Street, U.S.A., what with their going 12 mph and crazy zig-zag moves, is too high a price to pay for equality.

    I smell liberal conspiracy. First the hippies at Walt Disney give away state secrets by revealing the existence of aliens and now they want to ban vehicles that use oil in an underhanded attempt at massively crippling the oil industry.


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