Cover Up 8.9
The police chief of Islamabad, Pakistan has come up with a plan to keep the streets of his city safe from crime: He wants women to refrain from laughing when outside their homes. By covering their heads, dressing prudishly and generally keeping a low profile, Police Chief Nasir Durrani explained in a recent speech to a local women's college, women will be able to escape the attention of potential thieves and sex criminals. "Keep a serious and stern expression on your faces when you go to the market, parks and other public places," Durrani told the students, according to The Associated Press.
If the criminals still take notice of the somber women, too bad: In Pakistan, women are routinely jailed after reporting rapes, accused by their attackers of having consensual sex outside of marriage.
Dead Air 6.4
Oops! The editors of the Seattle Times didn't mean to put that "Deaths and Funerals" headline from the obituary pages over an ad in the paper for Alaska Airlines. The paper has apologized for what it says was an honest-to-goodness (if darkly ironic) production mistake.
But the airline, bristling at the paper's ongoing investigations into the causes of the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 in January, suspects the alleged production mishap was more than a "coincidence," telling Reuters that the paper's coverage of the crash - which killed all 88 people on board - was so biased and reckless that it "fostered an environment where somebody felt it was appropriate, even for a few moments, to place that logo on the ad."
Alaska Air might want to spend more time on safety and less reading the papers: In addition to the January crash, the company saw one of its baggage handlers crushed to death on the tarmac at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in May.
Smuggler's Blues 7.9
Something's rotten in the state of Sealand. In the late '60s, eccentric British adventurer and pirate radio enthusiast Roy Bates took over an abandoned military gun platform in the North Sea and declared it to be the independent principality of Sealand, making himself and his wife the rulers of the roost and issuing passports with the new country's coat of arms.
Now "Prince Roy" and "Princess Joan" find themselves embroiled in a bizarre international scandal. It seems that Spanish drug smugglers have begun selling Sealand passports of their own and claiming diplomatic immunity when arrested by Spanish police. The latest twist in the case: Spanish authorities say criminals claiming to be Sealand officials tried to buy $50 million of arms from Russia, including fighter planes, helicopters and tanks.
To enhance the ruse, the smugglers planned to don military costumes. "The false regent of Sealand had ordered a tailor to draw up a design for a series of battle uniforms for the principality, reserving one with the rank of Colonel for himself," the Spanish civil guards said in a statement.
Clearly, dangerous weapons and snazzy uniforms of this sort should only be in the hands of responsible authorities, like the real rulers of the fake country of Sealand.
David Futrelle is a contributing editor of In These Times.