NEW YORK, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- President Bush defended his call for the elimination of taxes on stock dividends, saying it would benefit rich and poor alike. For example, a minimum-wage janitor working 36 hours a week at Wal-Mart would save about $100 a year provided he was holding at least 4,000 shares of Microsoft.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Yasser Esam Hamdi, the American citizen held in jail for 15 months with no access to a lawyer and no charges filed, can be held even longer and shouldn't be given an attorney because he looks funny.
Franz-Stefan Strambach stole a two-seater Super Dimona plane at gunpoint and flew over the skyscrapers of downtown Frankfurt, threatening to crash into the European Central Bank, because "I want to make my big idol, Judith Resnik, famous." Resnik was, of course, the American astronaut who died in the Challenger space shuttle explosion of 1986, and apparently her poster is quite an item in the schizophrenia wards of Germany.
Elders at Brentwood Baptist Church in Houston opened a McDonald's in the church community center. "A lot of us have children," explained Derrick Cyprian, chairman of the deacon board. "When we have different meetings and functions at the church, a lot of time you don't get to stop and get something to eat. This will make it more convenient." A McDonald's spokesman confirmed that this was the first time the company had opened a franchise in a church, but cited scriptural precedent from the book of McDeuteronomy.
Shanghai officials are cracking down on the tradition of wearing pajamas on the streets and have launched an anti-sleepwear crusade in the newspapers, warning the city that it needs to reform if it expects to be awarded the 2010 World Exposition trade fair. Older residents are so far unimpressed by the campaign, citing a divine right to wear jammies after sundown, and inviting comparisons with fat people in Minnesota malls.
The Detroit Project, brainchild of columnist Arianna Huffington, started running a series of TV commercials asking "What is your SUV doing to our national security?" A man is depicted pumping gas while a voiceover says, "This is George. This is the gas that George bought for his SUV." Then, over a map of the Middle East: "These are the countries where the executives bought the oil that made the gas that George bought for his SUV." Then a picture of armed terrorists in the desert: "And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his SUV." Of course, the commercials could have gone one step further and shown a specific terrorist named Hakim: "And this is Hakim, one of the armed terrorists who gets money from his country and wastes it by firing his AK-47 into the air every time George fills up his SUV."
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who went to court last year to stop newspapers from speculating about whether he colors his hair, was at it again, seeking an injunction against a newspaper that suggested that he was not sleeping with fourth wife, Doris Schroeder-Koepf and that in fact they were keeping separate apartments. His wife, by the way, is a former tabloid journalist, which means he may be simply refusing to sleep with the enemy.
After 50 years of studying the fin whale, scientists reported that the strange calling song of the male is an invitation to mate, and is always sung near large concentrations of food, like krill. (This is why ocean noise from commercial vessels, and especially sonar, can interfere with mating.)
It is illegal in Germany to deny that the Holocaust occurred -- as a former Nuremberg high school teacher found out when he was sentenced to three months in prison for writing a letter to a historian saying that the Nazis did not persecute Jews and that the Holocaust was "postwar horror propaganda." Thank God, the Nazis didn't win, or else Germans might have lost their free speech rights.
Bronx Surrogate Bertram Gelfand was removed from the bench in 1987 after the New York state Court of Appeals disciplined him for carrying on a seven-year extramarital love affair with his court legal assistant, Irene Gertel. (Both were married to others at the time.) Last month the state Senate named as a new county court judge in Westchester County ... the legal assistant, now named Irene Ratner. Bless her heart, she managed to rehabilitate herself from those seven years of hot sex.
The Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to put the beluga sturgeon on the endangered species list, which would make it illegal to import beluga caviar into the United States, where 80 percent of the world's supply is sold. The beluga sturgeon is found in only one place in the world -- the Caspian Sea -- where it is harvested and exported for the amusement of people resembling beluga whales, also found in only one place in the world -- American restaurants.
Chicago is always festive at Christmastime:
-- Six-year-old Alma Manjarrez of Chicago woke up on Christmas Day and found herself trying to stop a fight between her mother and her mom's live-in boyfriend David Hernandez. Hernandez didn't like the intervention, and both mom and daughter ended up being beaten, with the young girl locked outside in the freezing cold. The girl died shortly thereafter of blunt trauma to the stomach and hypothermia. It's a good thing Santa had already left.
-- Shellie Pakula of Chicago spent Christmas morning asphyxiating her newborn baby, placing her in a plastic bag and putting her body in a garbage bin in alley behind her home, according to police. The next day sanitation workers balked at disposing of a frozen infant, and Shellie was cited for more than a recycling violation.
-- Sungnam Lisowski of Aurora, Ill., chose Christmas morning as the moment to register her disapproval of her husband John's desire for a divorce. She used a handgun to kill him, police said, then started shooting at her two daughters, 14-year-old Vickie and 12-year-old Christine. While Mom was pumping five shots into Vickie and reloading, Christine dialed 911 and summoned cops, getting wounded, in the meanwhile. Mom used two bullets on herself as well, but both daughters and the mother survived, hopefully to celebrate a less eventful holiday in 2003.
Scenes from our secure republic:
-- Sheik Mohamed Abdirahman Kariye, an American citizen, was arrested at Portland International Airport while attempting to fly to Dubai with his four children and brother. Security screeners tested his bags and founded nothing, then tested them a second time and found nothing, then tested them a third time and found "trace elements" of TNT. He was held in jail without bail on two felony charges: Social Security fraud. Yes, that's what we said.
(Joe Bob Briggs writes several columns for UPI. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his Web site, joebobbriggs.com. Snail mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221.)