Monthly Archive for June, 2008


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, June 29…They’re speeding, kvetching and sporting lacy teddies under their abayas. Welcome to the new Saudi Arabia.

The desert theocracy, long under the iron control of Wahabist fundamentalists, is experiencing a massive social upheaval that will change it forever, analysts say.

In recent days the kingdom was rocked by news of a methamphetamine seizure in the cities of Jiddah and Riyadh. “No one even knew we had a problem,” says Mahmoud el Fatit, of the Jammal Fund, a Saudi think tank, grinding his teeth and twirling his worry beads.

But the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that Saudi Arabia, with its small, tightly-controlled population, accounted for 28 per cent of all global amphetamine seizures 2006. The Financial Times reports that 12.3 tons were impounded in 2006,equal to the sum of six years of seizures in the UK, which is considered the largest amphetamine market in Europe.

And two tons of amphetamine about to be shipped to Saudi Arabia were confiscated last week across the Gulf in the Sultanate of Oman.

“14.3 tons for a population of 27 million, many old and young,” says el Fatit, lighting one cigarette off another. “This is an epidemic we did not know existed.”

UNODC executive director Antonio Maria Costa says he is “very perplexed” by the upsurge. He says Saudi Arabia is not a transit point and the drug is intended for “local consumption.”
But el Fatit has an explanation. Daubing at his bloody nose with a tea leaf he says that “women are responsible.”

“They are obsessed with dieting,” he shrieks, his dilated pupils gleaming

“They are using the drug to control their weight. It is the foolish, vain women…”

Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s Religious Authority was outraged when it was announced that King Abdullah had extended an invitation to what he called the “other members of the Abrahamic faith” for an interfaith dialogue.

This meant that Christians, known as “infidels” and Jews, long described as “sons of pigs and dogs” in Saudi children’s books were to be officially received by the Saudi royal family.

Saudi officials said Abdullah was concerned about the negative view of Islam that was being promulgated in the wake of the oil shock and the terror attacks and wanted to emphasize the shared heritage of the major religions.

“Outrageous,” said Sheik Nasrany Jahoudi. “We share nothing with them. They are sexually permissive. They refuse to accept the Koran. Now they will desecrate our holy places.”

But the most shocking news of all came with the opening of an all-female shopping mall in Riyadh. The modernist gleaming glass building is host to all the major luxury retailers in the world. A walk down its hushed, cool corridors passes women, their veils off, exposing elaborate coifs and flamboyant make up, browsing in Tiffany, Prada, Gucci, Stella McCartney outlets

Up until now Saudi women have not been permitted to own businesses. The mall was started by women who were tired of having to shop at male-owned stores.

“If we wanted a bra or a piece of lingerie we had to go to a man,” says mall manager Fatima Kabiratone-Bubbis. “If he fondled us we could say nothing or face punishment by our own families.”

Women account for the bulk of the luxury shopping in the Kingdom. The mall is booming and male retailers are fuming.

“Those men who own female clothing stores will soon be out of business,” says el Fatit, pulling a scab off his face. “The trade will be controlled by anorexic amphetamine-addicted women consorting with Jewish homosexuals…” He shakes his head with a scandalized expression. “It will be just like New York.”


LAS VEGAS, Nevada, June 27…The Electoral College is obsolete, the popular vote can be fraudulently manipulated. The only thing you can depend on in this country is hard cash.

That’s what people are saying all over the US. Or at least in front of Stash’s Kielbassa in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, N.Y. where neuroconomist, Efraim Durg has been conducting an informal poll since the primary season began.

“People are confused about who the best man might be,” Durg says. “So they say let the richest man win. Let’s give the White House to the candidate who raises a billion dollars first.”

Durg, CEO of Give The Schmucks A Nudge, a Behavioral Marketing think tank and consultancy, says that Americans have reached “a saturation level” of cynicism.

“Disillusion cuts across party and demographic lines,” he says. “Nobody believes in anything anymore.”

Durg says the recent Democratic primary was decided by money, pure and simple. ” Research shows that 67% of the news stories were about who was raising the most money,” he says. “Candidates were too close on the issues to decide. But Obama’s numbers soared when he outraised Hillary by four million dollars in one week. And Hillary was doomed when she lent eleven million dollars of her own money to her campaign. ”

Durg says studies verify that people associate fundraising with sexuality. “You can’t get off if you can’t get the money. You’re the guy or girl who goes home alone.”

In a recent poll with a 4% margin of error Durg asked voters to choose which of three campaign promises they would believe:

1. I will bring the troops home from Iraq.

2. I will make the US energy independent.

3. I will raise more money than my opponent.

The response was overwhelming, Durg says. “78% of the people said they would believe answer 3.”

This is a paradigm shift away from issue-oriented elections. and “calls for a revolutionary reappraisal of how we elect a president in this country.”

“It’s called a race so let’s make it one,” Durg says. “Forget what you’ve already got in the kitty. As of Labor Day let’s start from scratch. We’ll let a respected accounting firm like Price Waterhouse keep the books. On November 4th, instead of counting votes we’ll count money. And we’ll have our winner.”

Durg has done research for Obama’s economic advisers, but says his numbers speak for themselves. Still, he admits that Obama may have a slight edge over McCain.

“Obama loves money,” he said. “McCain is ambivalent about it.”

Phrenologic measurements show that Obama’s face actually expands when he discusses money. His eyes widen and his normally impassive demeanor becomes almost animated. Sophisticated vocal measurements also show that his voice goes up a few decibels as well.

“The other night when he said he had some donors who could write big enough checks to cover Hillary’s campaign debt his metrics were off the chart,” Durg says. “He was almost reverent.”

McCain’s metrics on the other hand show deep ambivalence, Durg says.

“McCain never had to sweat the rent,” Durg says. “In the military he had three hots and a cot. He then married a wealthy woman and was set for life. This is why he manifests deep-seated feelings of inadequacy when discussing economic issues. His phrenologic profile shows his face shrinking. His eye rolls increase and his voice goes down a few decibels. ”

Durg’s psychometrics have McCain making revealing slips in which he seems to identify his wife with the economy.

“In a speech to the American Legion he was quoted as saying: ‘I will veto any beer that comes with birthmarks,” Durg says. “He quickly revised that, saying he would veto any bill that came with earmarks. But later in response to a question about offshore drilling he said: ‘Offshore wives will increase production by a million kegs a day…’ And had to be taken offstage to compose himself.”

Although Durg claims to be “an objective social scientist,” he responds with a nudge when asked who would win the race to a billion.

“I think Obama has a head start.”


MOGADISHU, Somalia, June 25…There was no joy in Mogadishu recently when the war-torn nation of Somalia edged out Zimbabwe and the Sudan to take first place on the Failed States Index.

The Index, put together by Foreign Policy Magazine and the Fund for Peace focuses on ” twelve indicators of risk,” and is based on “thousands of articles and reports” that are processed by special software.

After studying and grading its indicators the Index has decided that Somalia is the poorest, most unstable, most polluted, most unhealthy and most dangerous place on earth.

This angered the Ministry of Tourism, which is trying to promote Somalia as a vacation paradise.

“We feel this is a case of blatant racism,” said an official, who preferred to remain nameless for fear of retribution.

To prove it he unveiled what he called his “Somali Index of Crumbling Empires” at a press conference today.

“Using the same criteria as the Fund for Peace we found that the crumbling American empire is as polluted, unhealthy, dangerous and corrupt as we are,” he said.

He cited the Fund’s claim that Somalia would not be able to respond when an “unexpected food crisis or devastating hurricane strikes.”

“The American empire was unable to respond to Hurricane Katrina,” he said. “Almost four years later the great city of New Orleans has yet to be rebuilt.”

He pointed to a map of the US. “How has the US responded to the flooding of the Mississippi River, the destruction of homes, villages and farmland? We hear reports that the natives who had no insurance have been driven into destitution…Meanwhile, he said, the rising price of food has forced millions of poor Americans to deplete the food banks, of their scant supply raising the specter of starvation and urban unrest.”

The official poked bitterly ironic fun at the Fund’s “twelve indicators of risk.”

“They say we have massive movement of internally displaced persons causing humanitarian crisis,” he said. “So did they during Katrina and the floods. So do they when factories close and people are suddenly dislocated from their ancestral homes.. When undocumented immigrants move from place to place fleeing from Immigration Police while they seek exploitative menial employment. ” The official paused for a glass of cloudy water…”They say we have tribal conflict and group paranoia,” he said. “So do they when black and Mexican gangs engage in open warfare in inner cities and overcrowded prisons. When evangelical Christians threaten Muslims with damnation and say that God doesn’t heed the prayers of the Jews.”

He was sarcastically dismissive of the fund’s economic indicators. “They say we have uneven economic development,” he said. “But in America the gap between rich and poor is growing every day. They say we suffer from severe economic decline, but America is in crisis due to the sub-prime collapse caused by the greed of its ruling class.”

He shouted down the questions of the mainly Western press. “They talk about deterioration of public services in Somalia, but they have bridges collapsing, urban infrastructure falling apart and no money to fix things because of billions spent in Iraq…He paused for a breath and wiped his face. “They say that we violate Human Rights. What did they do in Abu Gharib, Guantanamo, secret prisons all over the world?”

A group of Somali brandishing AK 47′s rushed onto the podium. As they dragged the official away he shouted “you say we are controlled by other states or external political actors. Well, where would America be without Chinese and Middle Eastern trillions propping up its dollar…?”

There was a burst of automatic weapons fire offstage. In the silence that followed the assistant to the Minister of Tourism faced the clamoring crowd of reporters with an ingratiating smile. “We disavow the irresponsible comments of that deranged Ethiopian,” he said. He referred the reporters to an interview that Minister of Tourism recently gave to the Economist in which he promoted Somalia as a prime “time share” venue.

Abdi Jimate Osman spoke of Somalia’s unspoiled beauty. He said the national parks were among the most “secure and restful” in the Horn of Africa. There is no fear of predatory animals,’he said “because we have eaten them all.”

“We will arrange day trips to all the great historic sites,” Osman said. “The only problem is they are all destroyed, but the trip can be very exciting as we fight off robbers and rival warlords.”

He dwelled on the attractions of Mogadishu’s Sharmo Hotel. The restaurant is renowned for its lobsters, which are brought ashore by Somali pirates who raid the fishing boats on a daily basis. The Sharmo terrace offers inventive local cocktails and a breathtaking view of the tribal fire-fights in downtown Mogadishu.

Osman did caution visitors to book an armored car and at least ten heavily armed bodyguards for the trip from the airport. He promised tourists that they will leave Somalia alive and said “hopefully they won’t be kidnapped.” But if they are, he said the euro will facilitate their safe release.

“Euros please,” he said with an apologetic smile. “No dollars.”


AUSTIN, Texas, June 22…Anarcho-Feminist presidential candidate Leah Schildkraut lost the support of several major Texas fundraisers last night when she vowed to change the Lone Star state’s “culture of exploitation, intimidation and deceit.”

“We spoke the truth to money,” rued spokesperson Nancy Garner-Bentsen. “And money didn’t want to hear it.”

The fundraising event , which was heralded as Schildkraut’s first foray into the world of campaign finance, had been weeks in preparation. Hundreds of people jammed into Shorty’s ribs to hear Schildkraut speak. Garner-Bentsen, the socially prominent president of Daughter’s of the Texas Republic told reporters ” we had us a good-old fashioned round up and herded every heavy-hitter in the liberal establishment into our campaign corral.”

Texas has a history of supporting maverick candidates. H. Ross Perot, a billionaire Texan polled 19% of the votes in the 1992 election and was credited with costing George Bush the presidency. This time around some liberal dissenters were muttering that a Schildkraut candidacy might take the feminist vote away from Democrat Barrack Obama in this closely contested state.

But Garner-Bentsen went ahead with the rally. “I’ve been reading the Anarcho-Feminist platform, and I’m tremendously impressed,” she told the crowd. “We all agree that this country needs revolutionary change and I believe Leah Schildkraut is the woman to deliver it.”

The crowd cheered as Schildkraut in her trademark green Starburys, cargo shorts and United Farm Workers sweatshirt, made her way to the podium. Thin, curly-haired and intense she made quite a contrast with blonde, tanned, trainer- fit audience, but they shouted with enthusiasm when she raised her arms and shouted:
“Texas will make history tonight.”

Diamonds sparkled in the darkness as Schildkraut, blinking back tears, began her speech.

“It is fitting that Texas become the first state to enlist in our cause,” she said. “Because Texas is symbolic of everything that is wrong with America.”

The applause died down as Schildkraut continued.

“Texas was born in blood and conquest,” Schildkraut said. “Its founders were so land hungry that they actually threatened military action against the New Mexico territory and had to be bribed by the US Congress into renouncing their claims.”

The audience stirred. Somewhere in the darkness a woman said “My great great great grand daddy was a founder…” and was quickly hushed by her neighbors.

“Texas was built on courage and hard work, but also on naked exploitation,” Schildkraut said. “Before the Civil War, 30% of the state’s population were African-American slaves and many more were Mexican laborers, all tightly controlled by the white minority through a repressive enforcement culture that continues to this day.”

In the astonished hush a few women could be heard, asking: “What did she say?”

“The white minority controlled the ballot box and order was maintained by legalized violence,” she said. “Between 1882 and 1930 there were 492 documented lynchings in the state and many hundreds, perhaps thousands more that went unreported, but are chronicled in the local archives..”

“That’s ancient history,” somebody shouted.

“I wish it were,” replied Schildkraut, “but Texas continues to do violence against its citizens. It leads the nation in executions, having killed 26 Death Row prisoners in 2006. But this has not deterred people from committing murder. Since 1990 more police officers have been killed in Texas than any other state. Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, three of the largest cities in the state, are in the top twenty-five in murders per capita. Texas also leads in more people incarcerated than any other state. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one-quarter of all the people on probation or parole live in the state of Texas…”

An elderly woman rose, jowls quivering. “I did not come here to hear my great state insulted…”

“You came because you embrace change,” Schildkraut said. “Well, change begins with the wealthy and the privileged making serious sacrifices…”

“Obama was here and he didn’t say anything about us sacrificing,” a woman shouted.

“You’ve got 3,128,759 people living in poverty as of 2001, almost fourteen per cent of the population and you know that number has increased,” Schildkraut said. “You’ll have to make a radical change in the economic structure of the state and the nation..”

“Obama said it was the lobbyists fault,” a woman said.

“He blamed China and the special interests,” another shouted.

“He says he wants change, too,” “someone else said. “He’s my kind of liberal.”

Schildkraut pleaded “Change will never come until the gap between rich and poor is eliminated…”

“You like poor people so much ask them for money,” a woman shouted.

In the darkness the stampede of high heels could be heard as the women headed for the doors. Motors roared as the gleaming SUVs sped into the night.

A distraught Garner-Bentsen confronted Ms. Schildkraut. “You have to tailor your message to your crowd like McCain and Obama do, Leah,” she said.

As the lights went on there were two women left in the room. One, Chris Gregg, of LIBS, Lesbian Inmates Benevolent Society, came forward with a $300 contribution. The other, Fatima Abdelaziz, from LAF League of Arab Feminists gave $25.

“Keep trying,” she said. “Your message will be heard.”


NEW YORK, N.Y. June 20…The hottest souvenir at the Republican Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul this summer won’t be McCain buttons–it will be Obama flip flops and matching shorts.

So says Efraim Durg, president of Shmatte Statements, a design firm that specializes in politically-themed clothing. Three pregnant workers have died since Durg put his Chinese factories on twenty-four shifts, churning out the millions of units he predicts he will sell at the convention and throughout the election season.

“We’ve invented an anti-advertising strategy that will become the standard for all future campaigns,” he says. “Instead of tee shirts with boring slogans like “Hope for a Change,” or “Get on the Truth Local,” we offer an eye-catching garment that also provides ammunition for political debates.”

Durg says his “eureka moment” came while watching coverage of Obama’s latest decision to forgo public financing for his campaign.

“The phrase flip flop kept being repeated,” he says. “At first I wondered why Obama was so strongly identified with a piece of casual foot-ware. Then I realized that this could be the hook for a revolutionary fashion line.”

Durg describes his Obama flip flops as “walking metaphors.” The straps have pictures of the young Barry Obama going right through the Harvard years to the present Barack Obama incarnation.

Durg swells with pride as he describes what he calls “the sole iconography.”

“On the left sole we have Obama’s old friends–the Reverends Wright and Pfleger, Hamas biggie, Zahar, Tony Rezco, Jimmy Carter, etc. On the right sole we have a large caricature of his new best friend, Ehud Olmert..

“Left and right, get it?” he asks with a nudge and a twinkle.

But Durg is proudest of his shorts. Made out of silk like basketball gear they have two sides.

“On the flip side, the front we have some early statements,” Durg says. “You know, like ‘I will accept public financing,’ or ‘Nafta benefits all Americans,’ something like American Jews have an excessive concern for Israeli security or Oil companies must pay a windfall profits tax. Then you turn to the flop side on the back and you see Public financing is a way for Republicans to game the system or Jerusalem will be 100% Israeli, and maybe something catchy like Nafta Shmafta.”

Durg has left room on the shorts for more flips and flops which he will sell as iron ons. “We can ship ‘em almost as fast as he can say ‘em,” he says.

But Durg isn’t satisfied with half the market. On the drawing board is a McCain line, which he will break out at the Democratic convention in Denver.

“We start with a pair of orthopedic shoes with three inch lifts for McCain’s debates with Obama,” he says. with a visionary gleam in his eye. “Then a pair of plain blue serge trousers with panels, front and back. When you open the panels you see a pair of adult diapers-inscribed with some of McCain’s priceless statements. I’m thinking We’ll be in Iraq for a hundred years or The surge is working or the classic Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran.

“But here’s the beauty part,” Durg says, hugging himself with glee. “When you spray a little water on the diapers it activates the invisible ink and you see the stuff McCain wishes he hadn’t said. You know like Nobody leaves this plane until I get my Flomax or I think I mean: The work is surging, plus something like CINDY, YOU F…..G C..T and ending with another Beach Boy classic, You’ll Have Fun Fun Fun When Daddy Gives You Tax Breaks Today.”


LOS ANGELES, Calif, June 18. The fault is not in ourselves, but in our stars, says Efraim Durg.

Reeling from a huge loss, Durg, the founder of Durgometrics, a hedge fund that specializes in sports betting, blamed “bad celebrity vibes” for the L.A. Lakers humiliating loss in the NBA finals, Tuesday night.

“They diverted the energy flow, ” Durg said. “A crowd is supposed to beam power onto the floor to enhance the players, but they sucked it away from the players and onto themselves.”

In an email to his investors Durg blamed himself for not anticipating the sudden reversal in the Laker’s fortunes. “After the third game in LA I should have made a hedge bet on the Celtics,” he said. “I could sense disaster, but I was like a deer in the headlights …Just like the Lakers. ”

Durg said he walked into the Staples Center for the third game and was struck by the lack of urgency in the atmosphere.

“Here we were in a must-win situation and people were more interested in celebrity-watching than the game,” he said. “The arena had a pre-season feel. People on their iPhones, waving to each other, chatting and smiling when they should have been screaming for Celtic blood.”

Durg said that the sideline camera people spent as much time on the celebs as they did on the players. And the celebs spent more time watching themselves than the players.

“You could see them looking out of the corners of their eyes at the camera. Some of them tried to act like they were involved in the game, but you could tell they were there to be seen, not see.”

He said what he called “Hollywood narcissists” were responsible for Laker’s inexplicable Game 3 meltdown. “Did they get up and urge the Laker’s on? No…They waited for the cameraman to work his way around to them.”

Durg sputtered with indignation as he recounted Will Smith’s interview with Michele Tafoya. “She asked him if he had any personal friendships with Lakers and he said he had been so absorbed in his character for the last six months that he hadn’t had time for anything else. Then…” Durg struggled to control himself…”Then, he said he wanted the Celtics to lose to get even for all the times they beat his hometown team, the 76′ers…” Durg threw up his hands.

“That’s not rooting. That’s not lifting players to a higher level…”

Durg said he had written to Laker’s owner Dr. Jerry Buss to urge him to revoke the season’s tickets for all “Hollywood players.”

“I would let Jack, Dyan and Denzell stay, but if the rest of them want to see the game let them sit in the cheap seats (if there are any) with the real fans.”

He said he had “jumped” on the Lakers in December ’07 when the Las Vegas oddsmakers listed them as 6 to 1 to win it all. “When they got Gasol the odds went down to 5 to 2,” he said. “I was offered a hundred thousand for my bet,” he said ruefully,”and turned it down.”

When asked how much he had bet Durg shook his head.

“When you win, you didn’t bet enough,” he said. “When you lose, you bet too much.”


WASHINGTON, D.C., June 16…Tim Russert’s sudden death has inspired urgent medical questions, intense soul-searching and even some self-congratulation.

The 58 year old host of MEET THE PRESS died of a massive heart attack last week while recording voice overs for his Sunday show. An autopsy was quickly performed and Russert’s cardiologist announced that the cause of death was “asymptomatic coronary disease” due to an “enlarged heart.” Dr. Michael Newman said “fresh clots” had been found in Russert’s coronary artery.

According to his doctor, Russert had been under treatment and was controlling his heart disease with “medication and exercise.” They said that he had undergone a “successful” treadmill test as recently as last April. His death was described as “sudden,” and “unexpected.”

But some medical authorities challenged this description as applied to a man with Russert’s health problems. They claimed to be surprised that the autopsy was performed so soon after Russert’s death. It is unclear at this time whether Russert was taking cholesterol lowering statins. Dr. Prediman K. Shah, director of cardiology at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles said he was usually “not impressed with the results of the treadmill test,” and suggested that “we have to look for other means” to monitor the disease.

A physician who preferred to be nameless wondered if Russert had been given a simple CRP (C-reactive protein)blood test to determine his susceptibility to coronary disease. Russert had just returned from a short vacation in Italy and this doctor said he should have been advised that after a long flight he might be subject to blood pooling and possible embolism.

Many of Russert’s colleagues chose to bury him with faint praise. Tim Rutten, in the LA Times said he was an “affable” commentator, but reminded his readers that Louis “Scooter” Libby’s conviction on perjury charges was due to in large part to Russert’s testimony. He did not mention that Russert was compelled to testify and concluded that Russert had emerged from that episode looking “more than shabby.”

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball, acknowledged that Russert was an “American patriot,” whose appeal was based on the fact that “he was everyman… he was us.” But Matthews criticized Russert’s support for the invasion of Iraq and oft-expressed insistence on the reality of the terrorist threat. He did not balance this by admitting that Russert gave equal exposure to all shades of opinion on MTP, but posthumously accused Russert of being “the essence of what was wrong with the whole case for the war.”

Other columnists used the occasion of Russert’s death to ponder their own mortality. Elizabeth Snead in the LA Times had nothing in particular to say about Russert other than to confess her shock at her own possibly lethal ignorance. “Until today I had no idea that abdominal or jaw pain could be a symptom of an impending heart attack.”

She said that Russert’s death was “a sudden warning to his generation” and hoped that it ” will inspire you to change our lifestyle, get a check-up or lose weight.”

The cosmetically-obsessed Barbara Walters paid perfunctory tribute to Russert as a “devoted journalist and family man,” but mused that “Tim was not a pretty face.” The septuagenarian TV personality has recently confessed a torrid ’70′s affair with Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke and said that President Nixon was so distracted by her “go go boots” that he could hardly answer her questions. “Tim did not look the part of an anchor man,” she said on the Larry King show, but then quickly dismissed him. “It’s not Tim,” she said. “It’s us. Do we work too hard, do we enjoy ourselves that much?” To which Larry King solemnly assented, “well put, Barbara…”

Later, CNN anchor man Wolfe Blitzer weighed in with tepid praise for Russert saving his real enthusiasm for the restraint CNN had shown in not breaking the story. He said that his staff was the first to get the news of Russert’s death, but had decided not to release the story so that Russert’s network, NBC could be the first on the air . Blitzer seemed more moved by his own righteousness than by Russert’s demise. “You know, we do the right thing, those of us who are journalists,” he said.


WASHINGTON,D.C., June 13…Leah Schildkraut’s presidential campaign was roiled today by the release of a video showing her having a sexual encounter with a tortoise.

“This is a plot to discredit a candidate who was just beginning to have her message heard,,” campaign spokesman Edna Tortuga said. “Leah performed a service to global ecology and this is the thanks she gets.”

The cell phone video taken last year on an islet in the Galapagos Islands shows Schildkraut in a thong lying in the shallows next to an upended Pinta tortoise. There is a jump in the tape and then Schildkraut is seen reaching out to manipulate the tortoise’s genitalia. The giant amphibian’s tiny legs churn and its head goes in and out of its shell for about thirty seconds. Then it rolls over and nibbles on a piece of seaweed, while Schildkraut lays back on the sand, looking up at the sky, hands behind her head.

The video was released on You Tube by Efraim Durg, professional poker player and candidate of the Gambler’s Rights Party at 11 am, EST and immediately rocketed through cyberspace. By 4 pm it had registered 11 million hits.The Anarcho-Feminist web site crashed from the volume of comments.

Schildkraut’s candidacy, which had gotten traction from the surprise endorsement of Bin Laden’s, deputy commander, Ayman Al Zwahiri, was now threatened with becoming an Internet oddity.

A distraught Schildkraut called an emergency press conference.

“The release of this video is a personal betrayal,” she said.

She was shouted down by reporters.

“Did you or did you not have sex with a tortoise while wearing a bikini?”

“I was trying to save an endangered species,” Schildkraut said.

The crowd hooted with scorn. Blinded by TV lights and popping flash bulbs, Schildkraut tried to explain.

“I am a volunteer for the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization),” she said. “We have been trying to protect the fragile ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands. The marine and terrestrial life is unique and invaluable. We have already boosted the giant tortoise population to between 10 and 30,000… But the Pinta tortoise…”

“Is it true that you have started a tortoise sex tourism travel agency?” a reporter asked.

Schildkraut ignored him and pressed on. “The Pinta tortoise, a very exotic breed, is threatened with extinction. One of the few males, who we called Lonesome George…”

“Not so lonesome anymore,” a familiar voice called. It was Efraim Durg, who had arrived with his supporters.
“George was unable to consummate,” Schildkraut said, “thus threatening the future of his breed. But a German veterinarian devised a sperm-retrieval technique, which involves fondling the tortoise’s genitalia until it ejaculates…” She blushed and stammered…”It was found that I was particularly adept at this tickling and could bring George to ejaculation in under fifteen minutes…”

The room exploded in laughter and ribald proposals.

“How do you explain your threesome with two tortoises?” Durg shouted.

“It wasn’t a threesome. I was attempting to introduce George to a female who had previously spurned him,” Schildkraut said.

“Who took this video?” someone asked.

“Our group leader, Dr. Estaban Marino-Monstruo.”

“Did he tell you to wear the bikini?”

“Yes,” Schildkraut said. “He said it would be more comfortable for the beach.” She bit her lip and turned away. “I thought we had a trusting professional–and personal–relationship. He made a fool out of me…”

The room went quiet. Sensing that Schildkraut had gotten the crowd’s sympathy, Durg shouted:

“The question is: do we want a tortoise fluffer to be President of the United States?”

Fighting tears, Schildkraut responded:

“Do we want our President to be chosen by a group of men playing poker in a smoke-filled room?”

“Yes,” everyone shouted.

“Duh,” Durg said with a look of incredulity. “That’s how it’s always done.”


NIAMEY, Niger, June 11…Declaring that “human trafficking, exploitation and abuse are more pervasive now than at any time in human history,” Leah Schildkraut promised today that her first act as President will be to issue a “declaration of war on slavery and all who profit from it.”

Schildkraut issued a challenge to her opponents, McCain and Obama. “Come to Africa where millions are enslaved, the brothels where women and children are exploited…Come raise your voices to resolve this humanitarian crisis.”

The Anarcho-Feminist nominee interrupted her busy schedule of campaigning to fly here to show support for a young woman who is suing the West African nation of Niger for failing to enforce its own anti-slavery laws.

The Associated Press reports that Hadijatou Mani, 24, says that she was sold into slavery at the age of 12 for about $500. She was forced to do domestic and agricultural labor and also “lived as a sexual slave or ‘sadaka’ to her master who already had four wives and seven other ‘sadaka.’ She worked without pay, was not permitted to travel and was “subjected to regular beatings and sexual violence,” according to a statement from Anti-Slavery International.

She is now demanding compensation for her years of servitude, and a commitment from the Niger and the nations of West Africa to enforce the anti-slavery laws already on their books.

Responding to decades of international pressure the government of Niger finally outlawed slavery in 2003, but a spokesman for Anti-Slavery International contends the practice continued in flagrant violation of the law. Nothing was done to help Hadijatou or the hundreds of thousands of others it estimated are held as slaves in Niger.

“Generations of the same families are born into bondage and can never aspire to freedom,” Schildkraut said.In Niger, she said it is estimated that 8 per cent of the population are slaves.

Schildkraut stood in the broiling desert sun speaking fervently to a handful of supporters.

In Chad she said a UN Office for Coordination of Human Affairs reported that African children were sold to Arab tribesmen; their names were changed, they were forbidden to speak their native dialect and were forcibly converted to Islam.

“In Timbuktu, Mali, Tuareg tribesmen hold the members of the Bella tribes as slaves,” she said. “In Mauritania, Arab Muslims, known as “bidanes”, which means ‘white people’ own thousands of black slaves. It is estimated that 600,000 Mauritanians are enslaved…”

Flushed by the heat and the intensity of her outrage Schildkraut stumbled in the burning sand. A young woman rushed up and held a parasol over her head as she continued.

“But human trafficking is not just a problem in Africa,” she said. “It has taken hold in Eastern Europe and Asia, any place where poverty and sexism are destroying the lives of millions of young women.”

The dwindling crowd of journalists stirred restlessly. Notebooks were closed. Cameras put away.

“I just returned from a village in Moldova where every young woman had been falsely recruited for jobs and then virtually kidnapped, enslaved and forced into prostitution,” Schildkraut said. ” Every year thousands of women disappear into the brothels of Europe, Asia, Israel and the US, yes the US…” She faltered. “Gangsters, pimps and profiteers run the world and nobody does anything about it…” She fell forward in a heat swoon. Several supporters daubed her forehead and moistened her lips. A mini cab was called and she was taken to a hospital where she was reported in fair condition later in the day.

The day had been a disappointment for Schildkraut, who had flown halfway around the world for this event. News that an American candidate was coming had drawn hundreds of journalists from all over Africa, but the crowd began to dwindle when they saw it was Schildkraut.

“We thought it might be McCain,” a reporter said. “He has spoken strongly about human trafficking and called for an Interagency Task Force to combat it.”

“Hillary Clinton, too,” a young woman said. “She called human slavery the dark underbelly of globalization and spoke against it all over the world.”

“We were hoping for Obama,” another young woman said. “He has not said anything to support our cause. We were hoping that he would finally begin to help us.

But he will come,” she quickly added. “We have faith.”



WASHINGTON, D.C. June 4…Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has been haunted by that old joke–with friends like this who needs enemies?

While he is on the hustings trying to get his message across, old pals keep popping up, loyal supporters who were useful once, but have now become serious liabilities.

“It seems like every day we have to throw another guy off the bandwagon,” an aide complains.

It began with Chicago real estate developer Tony Rezco. On the lookout for politicians to co opt Rezco spotted Obama as an up-and-comer in 1990. He contributed to his campaign for Illinois State Senate and then held a fundraiser at his Wilmette estate during which he collected $168,300 for Obama’s successful US Senate run. Later, while Rezco was under indictment for money laundering, his wife bought a piece of land for $625,000 and sold it back to Obama for $104,500.

Obama called that transaction a “bonehead move” because it might give the impression that Rezco had bribed him. He has since given Rezco’s contributions to charity.

But his friendships have continued to dog him.

Ted Kennedy gave him a ringing endorsement during the Massachusetts primary–he lost.

The heads of the Las Vegas hotel unions came out unanimously for him–he lost the Nevada primary.

Senator Robert Casey, of Pennsylvania spoke eloquently on his behalf–Clinton beat him by a ten points.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson abandoned his longtime allies the Clintons to pledge his support–Obama lost a close one in New Mexico.

Aides say Obama has been kept too busy disassociating himself from his most fervent backers to push his own agenda.”We keep having to distance ourselves from other people’s positions.”

For example:

Former President Jimmy Carter antagonized Jewish voters by calling Israel, an “apartheid state,” and then traveling to Damascus for meetings with Hamas leaders. Obama reiterated that he is “a strong supporter of our strong ally Israel,” and condemned Hamas as a terrorist group. And nudged Carter out of his inner circle.

Foreign policy adviser Samantha Power called Hillary Clinton a “monster.” Obama who had said that Clinton was “likable enough,” declared that she was not a monster and Power resigned.

Middle-East expert Robert Malley admitted having secret meetings with Hamas and resigned.

Economic counselor Austin Goolsbee was revealed to have reassured Canadians that Obama wasn’t sincere in his criticism of the NAFTA agreement ; he just said it to get the union vote in Ohio. Goolsbee has since been relegated to an informal role.

After the Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger debacles, the Obama campaign acted quickly.

“We resigned from Trinity,” the aide said. “It was a painful split, but it had to be done. We couldn’t wait for some other lunatic to mount the pulpit and cause us more trouble.”

Last week Obama got an unexpected vote of confidence from President Bush’s former Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

“Obama intrigues me,” McClellan said in an interview. “I might vote for him.”

“McClellan has a right to vote for anyone he wants,” the aide fumed. “But we did not solicit his support.”

Now, that they have the nomination the Obama campaign has to be more careful about potential problem endorsements. At Washington headquarters, an intern fielded calls from prospective supporters.

“Lindsay Lohan, line 1,” she called.

“Call back,:” the aide answered.

“Eliot Spitzer, line 2…”

“In a meeting.”

“Hugo Chavez, line 3.”

The aide reddened and turned to a reporter. “See what I mean?” And called to the intern: “Out to lunch.”

“O.J. Simpson, line 4″

The aide threw up his hands. “Gone for the day.”
“Fax from Charles Manson.”

“I’m outta here,” the aide said. He put on his jacket. “Tell him Obama just conceded to McCain.”


BROOKLYN, N.Y., June 1…Scott McClellan may not get a Pulitzer, but he has already began to reap awards as well as rewards for his memoir, What Happened, about his tenure as White House Press Secretary.

McClellan received the annual Albert Speer Prize for Exculpatory Exposure last night. The award, named after Adolph Hitler’s favorite architect, was presented by Efrain Darg, founder and editor of Snitch. com at a banquet at Golubchiks Restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It honored McClellan for “self-serving betrayal of the highest order.”

“If you snitch on a friend or a family member you’re just a weaselly rat,” said Darg, “but if you give up a President you’re a world class traitor worthy of an Albert Speer.”

Speer (1905-81) was a clever, ambitious young Nazi who ingratiated himself with Hitler and rose quickly in the party hierarchy, going from Building Inspector of the Third Reich to First Architect in charge of the design and construction of Hitler’s grandiose public buildings. During World War II Hitler appointed him Minister of Armaments and he built a war machine of such ruthless efficiency that it functioned under intense bombardment until the very end. He kept the Nazi factories producing at full capacity with the slave labor of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and captured soldiers. He literally worked his captives to death under conditions of extreme deprivation. After the war he was tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to 20 years for war crimes.

Upon his release Speer wrote a memoir entitled Inside the Third Reich in which he portrayed himself an innocent bystander who was unaware of the death camps and tried to improve the lot of the slave laborers under his command. He became world famous as “the Nazi who said he was sorry.” He was especially caustic about Hitler who he said was a stubborn, delusional loner, who brooked no disagreement. The man who had been photographed constantly at Hitler’s side and who had an office down the hall from Hitler’s in the Bergtesgarten, now denied that he had been a close friend of the Fuhrer’s and intimated that he had been part of a plot to assassinate him.

And the world believed him. His crimes were forgiven and then forgotten. Speer was later unmasked as a self-serving liar, but it was too late. He had been completely rehabilitated.

“In a breathtaking, boldfaced piece of deception Speer transformed himself from a war criminal to a Hamlet-type hero, a good person forced to do bad things and tormented by his conscience,” Darg said. “And now Scott McClellan has followed brilliantly in Speer’s footsteps.”

In What Happened, (Public Affairs Press) McClellan, who was Press Secretary from 2003 to 2006 claims he “allowed himself to be deceived” by Vice President Cheney and Louis “Scooter” Libby into lying about White House involvement in the unmasking of CIA agent Valerie Plame. He says he came to the White House a dedicated Bush loyalist, but became disillusioned when he realized that the President could not admit his mistakes and was “too stubborn to change and grow.”

Upon his resignation in April 2006, McClellan shared a tearful farewell with the President. “Scott handled his assignment with class and integrity,” Bush said at the time.

Now McClellan says he could never decide if the President was “intellectually incurious, or, as some assert, actually stupid.” He ridicules Bush’s claim that he really didn’t remember if he had used cocaine or not and says that the President was completely under the thumb of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Cheney, who, McClellan says, “got everything he wanted.”

McClellan’s high six figure advance was considerably less than the millions paid to other Bush officials for their tell-all memoirs. And yet his book tells the most. After heated criticism from the Administration, a rumor began to circulate that the book was originally bland, but an editor made McClellan spice it up into the bombshell best-seller it has become.

“This rumor, of course, was planted by McClellan himself,” said Darg, admiringly. “First he he weasels out on the President, then he snitches on his own editor. The man is a genius.” To a smattering of cheers and applause from the seven members of in Glolubchiks’s back room, Darg predicted that “Scott McClellan is the only member of the Bush White House who will be completely exonerated, while getting rich in the process. Albert Speer would be proud.”

A spokesman for McClellan said he was traveling and could not attend the ceremony.

Past winners of the Speer award are John Dean, Robert McNamara, Christina Crawford and Sammy “The Bull” Gravano.