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January 18, 2002
Appall-o-Meter
Sharia Lite 7.8

With the zealots in hiding, Afghanistan now returns to a seamy normalcy. In Kandahar, Pashtun big shots may again stroll the streets with their rent boys, while in the hinterlands peasants dream of the coming year’s poppy harvest. Afghan malefactors still face the sanctions of sharia, the Islamic law, but with all sorts of loopholes.

Ahamat Ullha Zarif, a prominent Afghan judge, explained that adulterers will still be stoned to death, as dictated by sharia, but they will be given a sporting chance to get away. “We will use only small stones,” he told Agence France Press. “If they are able to run away, they are free.”
Other signs of enlightenment? “The Taliban used to hang the victim’s body in public for four days,” Zarif said. “We will only hang the body for a short time, say, 15 minutes.”

No Children of the Corn 5.6

Here’s a biological train wreck in the making: According to the Observer, a San Diego-based company has developed a contraceptive strain of genetically modified corn. Building on research into a rare condition known as immune infertility, scientists at Epicyte have isolated a gene that regulates human antibodies that attack sperm. Naturally, the next logical step was to create an array of Frankencrops embedded with the genes.

A Toss Before Dying 1.3

It is the sincerest wish of every 15-year-old boy. And when an Australian youngster invoked the prerogative of the deathbed to get it, debate broke out nationwide. Should a minor with terminal cancer, it was wondered, be allowed to know the pleasures of the flesh before departing this vale of tears? And if he were to seek such pleasures with a woman his senior—a prostitute, for example—should that woman be prosecuted for violating laws protecting the innocence of such lads?

According to the National Post, hospital staffers wanted to pass a hat to hire a prostitute for Jack (as the boy is known in the Australian press). They chose not to, in light of possible legal consequences, but a bunch of Jack’s friends arranged a fine send-off for him behind the backs of his parents and doctors. While medical ethicists parse the ethical antinomies of his case, Jack has gone off to answer to a higher authority.

Go Hun, Go! 2.5

“If we know of any karaoke parlor still open, go to close it immediately and take tanks to knock it down,” Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered a military commander in a recent speech broadcast on Cambodian state radio.
What dictators can do, we can only dream of.


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