Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. Informed readers should be able to tell which is which.

Notes from around the world:

  • The United States finally gained an accurate measure of the depth of al-Qaida fanaticism: $27 million. The Egyptian snitch who sold out Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the brains behind the Sept. 11 attacks, told us (on condition of anonymity): “Sure, I could get a martyr’s ticket to paradise by killing a few infidels, but think of the good I can do for Islam by staying alive and pocketing the money. I could build a mosque, maybe, or set up fellowships to help the poor to make the Haj … really set an example for other rich Muslims.”

  • The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized that President Bush was attempting to add to the “short list” of nations supporting the U.S. position on Iraq. By our count, those nations opposing the U.S. stance constitute an even shorter list.

  • Plumbing the media depths: Is anybody else irritated by the lawyer-TV commentator who cautioned us not to call Elizabeth Smart’s disappearance a kidnapping? Apparently, his position is that it is possible for a 14-year-old to decide she really wants to accompany the dirty, wild-eyed, outlandishly dressed man who appears in her room in the dead of night, brandishing a knife. It could be the talking head also believes it’s possible that her parents went along with the prank at first, but changed their minds later and called the cops. Perhaps even more vacuous than the lawyer is the cable network that granted him credibility.

  • Let’s hear it for … TORTURE! The capture and sequestration of the aforementioned Khalid Shaikh Mohammed elicited speculation that we might be treating him like a guest in the basement of one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces.

    This followed episodes of the hit TV series “24,” in which actors portraying representatives of our government have been cheerily treating baddies to electric shock, playful pokes in their bullet wounds and the like.

    A columnist on this very website argued that infliction of grievous pain was justified – for a higher purpose, of course.

    Hello, out there! This is the 21st century, and even the Nazis knew over a half century ago that drugs like scopolamine and sodium pentathol were more effective, if less entertaining, than bamboo slivers under the finger nails.

  • The British may succumb to pressure from animal lovers and cover the Queens’ Guards’ bearskins with fake fur. Currently, the bamboo-framed chapeaux are covered with real pelts – from animals culled from Canada’s bear surplus. PETA will regard the switch to ersatz ursidae as a victory – even though the Canadian culling will continue. Kill them – just don’t wear them.

  • The People’s Republic of China showed good sense in barring the Rolling Stones from performing songs with strong sexual content. A nation with over a billion people doesn’t need further arousal.

  • “Feminist” cries of anguish are rising following the Senate’s passage (with plenty of Democratic votes) of a ban on partial-birth abortion. Apparently, the theory of some in the “pro-choice” contingent is that as long as some part of the baby remains in the birth canal, it’s just a fetus.

    Frankly, they may as well make note of the fact that children are even more inconvenient than fetuses and lobby to make elimination of those little nuisances a “choice,” too.

    As a matter of fact, we can use this logic to end the endless debate over capital punishment: Just call it retroactive abortion.

  • Finally there’s Don Johnson, TV cop, who was detained in Europe (some time back, it was revealed) while authorities photocopied all the checks, notes and stock certificates in his suitcase – nearly $8 billion worth. Johnson’s explanation: He was going to buy a car … or maybe a few al-Qaida stool pigeons.

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