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Friday, July 17, 2009

The week that was!

German prosecutors have launched an enquiry into whether a garden gnome with its right arm raised in a Hitler salute is against the law. Hitler salutes and Nazi symbols have been illegal in Germany since World War II. Never mind the global financial crisis or global warming: the Germans are still away with the fairies and afraid of being dwarfed by gnomes.

On a slightly larger scale, it has been reported that a German man has blown up his apartment while trying to fix his leaky air mattress. The man, 45, from Duesseldorf, used tyre-repair solvent to plug a hole in his airbed and left it overnight. It blew up when he went to inflate it the next day. The blast pushed his living-room wall into the building's stairwell and caused extensive damage to walls, windows and furniture.

Speaking of damages, the Holy City of Jerusalem has been full of not-so-holy smoke after days of protests by ultra-religious Jews angry at the arrest of an Orthodox woman accused of starving her child. The mother may have Munchausen syndrome by proxy, whereby a mother deliberately mistreats a child to win sympathy. However, the protesters who smashed traffic lights, toppled fences, ripped up paving stones, and set rubbish bins alight, insisted it was inconceivable that a Jewish mother would starve her child. Just as inconceivable as the idea that there might ever be peace in the Middle East, I guess.

Pity they didn't also set alight the rubbish bins in the U.K. to stop a New Zealand teacher from climbing into one after a night out drinking with the boys! He was found crushed to death at a rubbish depot. Had he at least picked a recycle bin, he might have been reborn again!

And across the Atlantic, a new airline providing dedicated travel for cats and dogs has been launched in the United States. Unlike conventional airlines, Pet Airways will not consign its four-legged flyers to the cargo hold (nor to the tail-end, I am told.) Instead, the animals will ride in the main cabins of specially converted planes. They will have pre-flight walks, frequent checks by flight attendants and stop overs, although there is no mention of in-flight movies and Silver Service. Carry-on luggage is limited to one bone! In an advertisement for the company, the pets are called 'pawssengers'. No people, just pets! Question: who's flying the planes?

While still up in the air, here in the wonderful Land of Oz, a defence force Hercules plane was hired to carry a 240kg patient because there were no ambulances or planes big enough to transport her. Even though the woman was deemed well enough to travel by road from Mt Isa to Townsville, the Queensland Ambulance Service had no vehicles to carry her. She was even too large to be safely carried in King Air light aircraft operated by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. An Australian Defence Force spokesman confirmed a C-130 Hercules was sent from the RAAF base near Sydney at the request of the Queensland Government. The cost to taxpayers was not disclosed, but a Hercules aircraft costs about $13,000 an hour to operate, putting the total cost of the nine-hour operation at more than $100,000.

But what's $100,000 when compared to the US$1 TRILLION annual deficit just now clocked up by the United States? Meantime, a little country just up north from us, which has been in the news lately over the detention of you-know-Hu, has quietly accumulated over US$2 TRILLION in foreign exchange reserves. China has also overtaken Japan as the world’s second-largest stock market by value.

I bet the Chinese don't bother with consumer protection laws that make it necessary to place the following labels on products: on baby strollers: "Remove baby before folding stroller"; on fish hooks: "Harmful if swallowed". If only fish could read!

Not that many people can read warning signs either: shortly after a whole family, who had gone walking in the Blue Mountains at around 4.30 p.m. with only half an hour of daylight left, went promptly missing and was only found next morning, a British backpacker, Jamie Neale, 19 (which is either his age or his IQ, or both), went missing in the same area for 12 days. He was found on Wednesday, dehydrated but in relatively good health, having lived - so he claims - on seeds and a rocket-like weed that he found. He'll be living on caviar and French champagne from now on as he has just signed a media deal which could earn him six figures. Maybe he isn't so stupid after all?

Rather belatedly, I recognise how well-meaning all those people have been who over the years exhorted me to "go and get lost!" Why indeed study and pursue a professional career when you can simply get lost and earn a six-figure income? But it's never too late: I've just packed a 12-day supply of MARS-bars and am off to the Blue Mountains to earn a living!