Tough Sell 9.2
Faced with a persistent image problem - due to its long, ugly history of atrocities - the Guatemalan army has enlisted the help of a small local ad agency called Vice-Versa in an attempt to show that it's really on the side of peace these days, four years after a cease-fire with rebel forces and two years after a U.N. truth commission found the army guilty of torture and genocide in the long civil war. Rodrigo Mendoza, creative director of Vice-Versa, admits he has his work cut out for him, but recently told Reuters he's "drawn [to] the challenge" of presenting some of the world's most notorious warmongers in a different light. Vice-Versa's ad campaign, Reuters reports, features "images of doves bearing olive branches perched on camouflage-painted combat helmets."
Dead Letter Office 6.2
The late William Reynolds of London recently received notice that he would no longer be getting a housing benefit from his local borough council - because he was dead. "Your Council Tax Benefit has been stopped from 17 April 2000 because there had been a change in your circumstances," noted a letter sent to the deceased by Capita Business Systems, the housing benefit contractor for the Lambeth Borough Council. "The change is because you are dead."
According to London's Daily Telegraph, the notice urged the dead man to call if he wished to appeal the decision.
The Big Chill 5.9
FM-2030 is dead. For now, at least. An eccentric futurist who legally changed his name to FM-2030 because he was sure he would live to see that date, the former F.M. Esfandiary recently died at the age of 69. But his body has been frozen and stored in a tank at Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, awaiting the scientific breakthrough that will ultimately bring him back to life. FM-2030 was busily revising his book "Countdown to Immortality" when pancreatic cancer struck him down. The indefatigable futurist, Bridge News reports, was a bitter public opponent of nationalism, competition and the pancreas, which he once denounced as a "stupid, dumb, wretched organ."
David Futrelle is a contributing editor of In These Times.