Duct tape and callaloo

The Baltimore Sun

What with Mark Foley and all, you may have missed some of the news that came perilously close to falling through the cracks this week. As a public service, here's a glance backward:

Mongolia's legislature on Thursday began debating a law on regulating the use of Genghis Khan's name in a bid to prevent the memory of the legendary conqueror from being cheapened, an Associated Press writer named Ganbat Namjil reported.

Since Mongolia emerged from the shadow of the Soviet Union in 1991, the isolated Asian nation has applied the moniker of its favorite son to more than half a dozen brands of vodka and beer and a variety of other commercial products.

In Cuba, according to the BBC, centenarians told researchers that their longevity was the result of going easy on alcohol (especially, we would wager, that Genghis Khan vodka) but indulging in coffee, cigars and sex.

Steve Howards says he was walking with his 7-year-old son to piano practice last June when he saw Vice President Dick Cheney at an outdoor mall in Beaver Creek, Colo. As reported in the Rocky Mountain News, he says he walked up to Mr. Cheney and told him something along the lines of, "I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible." A few minutes later, he was arrested for harassment, according to a lawsuit he filed Tuesday against a Secret Service agent. The harassment charge was dismissed in July.

One out of every five pillars in England's Canterbury Cathedral is held together with duct tape, according to the organizers of a campaign to raise funds for its restoration.

From Jamaica came this report from the Gleaner: "Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, has warned that agro-processors who breach guidelines for exporting ackee will be expelled from the system. ...

"'Some of the players within the industry will have to understand that they will have to live up to certain norms,' he explained. 'Up to recently, somebody tried to send away ackee labeled as callaloo and it is good that it was intercepted here. The conditions for us to enter the market will be very, very strict and every player will have to live up to expectations.'"

Transparency International issued its 2006 Bribe Payers Index, or BPI; it ranks the 30 largest exporting nations according to their willingness to grease palms. Swiss and Swedish companies were the least tempted to pay bribes to get things done. The U.S. tied with Belgium in ninth place. The top of the list? Turkey, Russia, China and India. (Neither Mongolia nor Jamaica was included, Genghis Khan and bogus callaloo notwithstanding.)

A Scottish schoolboy's bus pass was revoked on religious grounds, The Scotsman reported. Stirling Council officials said Reece Swain, 13, was not entitled to a free pass because he does not live in the St. Modan's High catchment area and is not "a practising Roman Catholic."

Today is President Vladimir V. Putin's 54th birthday, and the newspaper Express-Gazeta is celebrating with a contest called "Children Draw Putin," the Moscow Times reports. Ilona Denisova, 12, lives in Belarus, which isn't even under Moscow's sway, but she submitted a drawing anyway, called "Russian President Vladimir Putin and Connie Visit the Moon After the 2012 Elections." Connie is Mr. Putin's dog.

On Monday, Mr. Putin spoke with President Bush and they touched on Russia's bullying of another neighbor, Georgia, where the man in the Kremlin is not as warmly regarded as he is in Belarus. From one decider to another, Mr. Putin essentially said that what happens there is none of Mr. Bush's business.

In Sydney, Australia, two teenagers were arrested for setting parking meters on fire.

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