- Mattel spanked
- Spies R Us
- Cold War ends
- Police Ça Change
- White Van Man or Like father like son
Global capitalism is all in favour of free trade - except when it impinges on their brand's copyright (which these days could include human DNA or life-saving drugs). So it's nice to hear that Mattel, the world's biggest toy-maker and creator of the improbably endowed Barbie got their asses whipped in a court battle with artist Suzanne Pitt, who sells S&M Barbies from her website.
One of Ms Pitt's Barbies features "lederhosen-style Bavarian-bondage dress and helmet in rubber with a PVC mask and waspie."
"To the court's knowledge, there is no Mattel line of S&M Barbie," the judge said, ruling that the dungeon doll could not therefore be a "market substitute".
Looks like they can afford it: demand for Barbie dolls helped Mattel increase third-quarter sales by 6 percent to $1.67 billion from $1.58 billion
Spies R Us
"Could you be a spy? A quiz at BBC News Online. As revealed in the True Spies TV series, former Special Branch Officer Tony Robinson recruited and handled spies for 18 years. Have you got what it takes to be a secret agent? Take Tony's test now and see if he would take you on..."
Sad to relate, I was a complete wash-out in the quiz. So I won't be able to spy on democratically elected MP's, take part in the destruction and impoverishment of whole communities, prop up a barbarous racist state, or destroy vast swathes of ancient woodland - all activities our proud spooks revelled in according to the programme. "I have a cunning plan "
Our Tony should be offering his services to Berlin:
Dozens of suspected criminals in Germany found out that their telephones were being tapped by security services when charges for the eavesdropping appeared on their phone bills last week. The error, which was put down to a software glitch, came to light when one customer complained about charges for calls to a mysterious number on his bill. Calls to the number were answered with a voice telling the customers they lacked authorisation. Security sources confirmed that nearly 50 people had been inadvertently invoiced for the cost of the eavesdropping. The authorities immediately contacted the phone company O2 in Munich, which stopped the delivery of other bills that were ready to be sent out.
Cold War ends
According to the Berliner Zeitung (9 November), since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Stalinist system, Germany has experienced on average 207 hours more sunshine than under "actually existing socialism". A meteorologist from Hamburg, Olaf Krüger, says the "Gorbachev Effect" is responsible. Did Gorby flick a switch in the Kremlin before he left: "can the last one to go turn on the light"?
Not exactly. What happened was: with the closure of most, and the modernisation of a much lesser part of eastern Europe's industry in the early 1990s, the air quality increased to such a greater extent that there were less clouds. When there are less clouds, or when they are less pumped full of chemicals, more light comes through to the ground.
Police Ça Change
The Home Office revealed that black Britons are eight times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. The report, Race and the Criminal Justice System, revealed that police in England and Wales carried out 713,683 stops in 2001/2, an increase on the previous year of 4%. The "MacPherson effect" really had a lasting impact on institutional racism then?
White Van Man or Like father like son
A gang of racists, including a leading member of the National Front and supporters of the neo-Nazi group Combat 18, was jailed yesterday for a total of 25 years after police foiled a plot to attack a black man.
Seven of the eight-man gang were caught in a van with darkened windows carrying an array of weapons, including an imitation gun, CS gas canisters, an axe, a knuckle duster, and plastic handcuffs.
Eight gang members later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racially aggravated assault and were given sentences ranging from 18 months to four years and four months at Kingston Crown Court.
Searches at the racists' homes in London discovered more weapons and National Front and neo-Nazi literature. Police also found links between members of the gang and the extreme right-wing organisation Combat 18.
One of those jailed, Simon Northfield, 23, was a National Front "officer" and "organiser", the court heard. Literature from the far-right group described Northfield, a builder from Wallington, south London, as a leading figure in the Young National Front. In February 2000 he admitted attacking members of the Anti-Nazi League and shouting racist abuse while taking part in a National Front rally in Margate.
The gang was discovered at a car park in Tooting, south London, at 9pm on 29 September 2001, after a white van aroused the suspicions of a council patrol. Police were called and the gang was arrested. Inside the vehicle they found a kidnap and assault kit that included eight balaclavas, two extendable batons, surgical face masks, screwdrivers, and two craft-knife blades taped together, an arrangement that means wounds cannot be easily stitched.
Two of those conviicted were policemen's sons. Like father like son, as they say.