Commentary: Joe Bob's Week in Review

By JOE BOB BRIGGS   |   Oct. 18, 2002 at 8:44 AM
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As a sniper terrorized Maryland and Virginia, law enforcement officials called for his execution and called on him to turn himself in -- on the same day. They then talked about how smart he is.

Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize and his eyes got even more crinkly.

Singer Harry Belafonte called Secretary of State Colin Powell a house slave who "serves the master." Powell called the comment unfortunate. Both Belafonte and Powell are of Jamaican descent, but it's unclear which man would prevail in a limbo contest.

Serial killer Aileen Wuornos, one of the toughest-looking prostitutes in long-haul trucker history, was executed in Florida after dropping her appeals and firing the lawyers who argued that she was crazy. Her final words were, "I'll be back like 'Independence Day' with Jesus, June 6, like the movie, big mother ship and all. I'll be back." Thank God she was in full possession of her faculties.

Zambia refused to accept shipments of corn from the United States, because the corn has been genetically modified. The 2.5 million starving Zambians, on the other hand, have been modified in the conventional way.

Organizers of the annual Columbus Day Parade in New York shunned the stars of "The Sopranos," saying they perpetuate an Italian-American stereotype, causing Mayor Michael Bloomberg to withdraw from participation. Making the march, however, was Tony Renis, the composer of "Quando Quando Quando," confusing the issue of what exactly constitutes a stereotype.

Five people were killed and 47 injured in riots near Bombay sparked by Rev. Jerry Falwell's assertion that Prophet Mohammad was a terrorist. Muslim organizations had called for a strike, but it quickly deteriorated into a battle with knives and rocks after the protesters were challenged by Hindus. Falwell called on all parties to settle their differences in a Christian manner.

North Korea admitted having a nuclear weapons program, saying it wanted to "nullify" its 1994 Non-Proliferation Treaty with the United States. It got the idea last year when the United States "nullified" its 1973 Non-Proliferation Treaty with Russia. That whole international law thing is just looking so 19th century.

The National Civil Rights Museum, housed in the former Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Martin Luther King was shot, opened an exhibit called "Lingering Questions," featuring 200 never-before-seen items collected by Memphis police investigating James Earl Ray for King's murder. The King family and many other civil rights proponents believe that Ray was not the killer but a mere scapegoat for the government. The museum also includes the rooming house across the street, where federal agents believe Ray fired the fatal shot from the bathroom. Featured in that same bathroom are James Earl Ray's after-shave lotion, his hairbrush, a pair of his boxer shorts, and his rifle -- the one that, uh, he didn't use.

As the deadline neared for the U.S. Olympic Committee to choose its favored site for the 2012 Olympic games, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said his sole competitor, San Francisco, "is a very nice small town." Tony Bennett left his heart there, of course, but he left his body in New York.

A 55-gallon drum of pig sperm was found in the Arie Crown Woods near Countryside, Ill. Cook County firefighters recovered the drum, thinking it might be toxic waste, but were relieved to know it was merely the result of swine having mid-life crises.

In other barnyard-animal-sperm news, scientists in Pennsylvania announced they've created pig and goat sperm inside the bodies of lab rats. See, they got these really nasty pictures of farm animals off the Internet, and ...

Little Red Riding Hood sparkling wine was the closet you could get to champagne in East Germany under Communism, so the 1856 winery in Freyburg turned out 15 million bottles of it each year. That changed when the Berlin wall came down and all East German products were considered second-rate and hokey -- especially something called Little Red Riding Hood ("Rotkappchen" in German). When demand dropped to only a million bottles a year, it looked like the jig was up for goofy bubbly in red foil bottles.

But a group of Freyburgers, backed by a tiny Freyburg bank, streamlined the company, bounced back, got production up to 49 million bottles last year, and have now taken over one of their largest competitors in WEST Germany, Mumm-MM -- a rare victory for the east, where most of the businesses from Communist Germany have folded. Now producing all kinds of German brands and 100 million bottles a year, it won't be long until we can all buy Hansel & Gretel merlot spritzers.

The Michigan legislature voted 53-43 against a bill that would have banned tongue-splitting. The proposal was intended to prevent medical professionals from splitting peoples' tongues into two parts to make them look like serpents' tongues. Even though the procedure can cause excessive bleeding, infection, nerve damage, swelling and permanent speech impediment, the lawmakers decided it was a personal decision that shouldn't be infringed on by law. The 53 politicians voting against the measure were criticized by the bill's supporters as having a conflict of interest; all of their tongues are, in fact, forked.

God knocked down the Maryland state tree, a 460-year-old 96-foot-tall oak with a circumference of 31 feet, 10 inches. Keen readers of "Joe Bob's Week in Review" will recall that God had previously eliminated the habitat and climate necessary for the Baltimore Oriole to remain in Baltimore. For obvious reasons, Chesapeake Bay crabs are now panicked and reported to be

reinforcing their shells with a Teflon finish.

Paul Trummel, a 70-year-old man evicted from a retirement home, has been held in a Seattle jail for three months for refusing to delete from his Web site the names and addresses and personal data on employees at the retirement home. First Amendment groups have rallied to his defense. Also, the food is better.

A judge in Ebensburg, Pa., fined 20 members of an Amish sect $95 each for refusing to put bright orange reflective triangles on the backs of their horse-drawn buggies. The Amish had argued that the symbols were a violation of their religion, which apparently forbids the color orange, the triangular shape, and anything reflective.

Sixty-three-year-old Evel Knievel wants to make one last jump before he goes to that big motorcycle ramp in the sky, hoping it will help hype his new Evel Knievel Xperience Cafe in Primm, Nev. (The cafe will include a sports bar, memorabilia museum and virtual reality rides modeled on his past jumps.) If

Knievel does come up with a new stunt, it will be his first since 1980, when he jumped a row of buses in the Seattle Kingdome. He wants to make the last jump his longest yet, at about 200 feet, which he says is possible because of today's lighter materials, better shock absorbers and other technological changes.

By setting the ramp at a lower angle than in the past, he thinks he can hit 100 mph on the straightaway. There's nothing he can do, however, about that George Hamilton movie.

Scenes from our secure republic:

Della Maricich, who has flown more than 100 times since Sept. 11 and knows the security rules, was boarding a flight at Portland International Airport when she noticed a screener remove her handbag from view. She asked the screener to keep her bag in her sight at all times, in accordance with Transportation Security Administration guidelines. The agent refused. Maricich asked to speak to a supervisor. A National Guardsman showed up and asked her to follow him back to the terminal. Because she had called for a supervisor, the soldier said, she would not be allowed to fly out of that airport that day, and furthermore she was a "troublemaker." After all, it's well known that many terrorists have Prada fetishes.

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

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