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Commentary: Joe Bob's Week in Review

By JOE BOB BRIGGS   |   April 12, 2003 at 5:01 AM   |   Comments

On the fifth anniversary of Viagra's introduction, two new competitors are hitting the market -- Cialis, which supposedly lasts longer than Viagra, and Levitra, which kicks in faster. Still waiting for FDA approval is Disskagra, which makes ugly girls seem really hot.

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Cosmopolitan magazine will launch its own network to compete with Lifetime, which is the highest rated channel on cable. No, ladies, it is NOT in our best interest to take the quiz together.

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The female animal trainer for the Flying Mushrooms, a Swiss circus, ran off with the ringmaster's son while the circus was visiting Melle, Germany, and the ringmaster is upset, not so much because of his son but because they also stole eight lions and two tigers. Now THAT is a kinky honeymoon.

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British tabloids report that Julia Roberts has fallen out of love with cameraman husband Danny Moder, which puts him in a club with exes Liam Neeson, Dylan McDermott, Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, Lyle Lovett, Daniel Day-Lewis, Matthew Perry and Benjamin Bratt, all of whom recently qualified for group medical care.

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Vandals scrawled graffiti on the graves of fallen British soldiers buried in northern France. "Dig up your garbage," one poet wrote, "it is contaminating our soil." French President Jacques Chirac apologized to the queen, saying "These unacceptable and disgraceful acts are unanimously condemned by the French people." Well, obviously not UNANIMOUSLY.

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General Motors discontinued production of electric cars, saying they'll be pulled off the roads as the leases expire. Now that California has backed off its strict pollution enforcement, the car is no longer economical, said company officials. They were also demonstrated to be kind of wimpy.

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The City Council of West Hollywood, California, has made it illegal to declaw a cat. And those black-leather sofas were ALREADY looking nasty.

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Mecca-Cola, the soft drink introduced last November to compete with Coca-Cola in places with heavily Muslim populations, has sold 3 million bottles in France alone and is now strong enough to build its own bottling plant in Casablanca. Can a new diet version, called Medina-Cola, be far behind?

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Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is accused of conspiring with a fisheries research institute to illegally harvest 2,200 tons of giant red crabs and sell them abroad for $6 million. The Kamchatka crab is considered a delicacy in Japan, where it sells for $45 a pound, and where it's especially tasty when served with a side of whale sushi.

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Michael Jackson bought two paintings at a Sotheby's auction -- a Cupid by French artist William Adolphe Bouguereau for $504,500, and a woman with a baby and sheep for $724,500 -- then refused to accept delivery or pay for them because, he said, they no longer fit into his art collection. Apparently he had purchased "Blue Boy" in the meantime.

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George Kelley, a retired flower shop owner in Nashville, founded the Ten Commandments Project, offering $10 to every child who memorized and recited the Ten Commandments. Flooded with letters, he now says he can't pay. Thou shalt not tease.

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Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein have sold their Watergate notes and papers to the University of Texas for $5 million, to be catalogued and stored at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center in Austin. Among the material in 75 file-drawer-size boxes is the identity of "Deep Throat," who won't be revealed until his or her death. That rules out the late Linda Lovelace.

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In Germany, where the United States had been widely ridiculed for calling French fries "Freedom Fries," a linguists group is proposing that all American words be replaced with French equivalents -- "billet" instead of "ticket," "d'accord" instead of "okay," "tricot" instead of "T-shirt," and "sacre bleu" instead of "dagnabbit."

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Human rights groups say that more than 2,000 alleged drug dealers have been executed in Thailand during the last two months, as Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra shows what John Ashcroft could do if he just had a little public support.

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The FBI recovered one of the original copies of the Bill of Rights -- 138 years after it was stolen from the North Carolina Capitol by a Union soldier on his way home to Tippecanoe, Ohio. His relatives finally got tired of packing it up again every time they moved.

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A British court sentenced Mohammed Azam to a year in prison for having books at his house about bomb-making and terrorism. That whole First Amendment thing never took hold over there.

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia agreed to go to Cleveland to accept the City Club's Citadel of Free Speech Award -- but only if television and radio stations were forbidden from broadcasting the event. The event went on, but the award was renamed the Exposed Flank of Free Speech Award.

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Three Moroccan musicians were convicted in Casablanca of "undermining the faith of a Muslim" by playing heavy-metal music as part of the bands Nekros, Infected Brain and Reborn. They each got a year in jail, later reduced by a court to 45 days after one of the judges watched "Footloose" on late-night cable.

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Fishermen off Antarctica captured a 300-pound squid, only the second colossal squid ever caught. It's a young female, 16 feet long, and was going to have dating problems anyway.

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An elaborate manger scene, complete with the baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, and all the wise men, turned out to be made of pure cocaine when police discovered it at Fiumicino Airport in Rome. The owner, who brought it from Peru, said he was a collector of sacred art. He won't be seeing the Vatican galleries on this trip, however.

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Hedgehog enthusiasts in Britain are airlifting the prickly critters from the Outer Hebrides to the mainland so that they won't be killed by wading-bird enthusiasts. (Hedgehogs eat the eggs of the wading birds.) There's a current bounty of $8 per hedgehog for anyone rescuing one without harming it, although hedgehogs squashed on the highway won't affect the general market value, as locals had hoped.

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The recording industry filed multi-million-dollar lawsuits against four college students -- one at Princeton, one at Michigan Tech, and two at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute -- for operating computer networks that allow people to download songs and share them. Also, there are too many used pizza boxes in their dorm rooms.

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Nineteen states are considering new taxes on beer, led by Pennsylvania, which wants a more than 300 percent increase. Pittsburgh steelworkers regard this as a 50 percent tax on real income.

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The Portland Trailblazers will lose $100 million this year, the largest deficit in pro sports history. The Trailblazers are owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who has also invested his $40 billion fortune in troubled Charter Communications, VaxGen (the biotech firm whose AIDS vaccine failed), the anemic women's channel Oxygen, and the failed wireless Internet provider

Metricom. It's estimated that Allen has lost $20 billion in four years -- but, hey, how bout them Blazers?

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Scenes from domestic life:

* Two 69-year-old men went at it with a knife and a baseball bat at the Saratoga Squares Senior Citizens Home in Brooklyn. Ransford Forbes stabbed Fred Horton four times. Horton responded with a bat blow but ended up in critical condition. Reason for the fight: they're neighbors. In Old Fart terms, this is sufficient reason.

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Scenes from our secure republic:

* Two hundred guests were evacuated from the EconoLodge in Erie, Penn., after reports of a suspicious chemical smell near the swimming pool -- chlorine.

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(Joe Bob Briggs writes several columns for UPI. Contact him at joebob@upi.com or through his Web site, joebobbriggs.com. Snail mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221.)

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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