It was another funny week.
In Iran, the cops were cracking down on barbers giving un-Islamic haircuts or plucking the eyebrows of male customers. With world domination on his mind, the last thing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants is a country full of guys who look like Sanjaya.
Explains MSNBC, "Iranian young men have in recent years started paying more attention to the way they look and dress, especially in affluent parts of the capital Tehran. Spiked up hair, by using gel, is know as the Khorusi (Rooster) style and some also use make-up."
Hey, allow someone to strut around as a gelled Rooster and the next thing you know he'll be turning into a crazed hippie who questions the sanity of the established ethos. The crackdown on haircuts came a week after Iranian police went after women in insufficiently loose-fitting outfits. Under Iran's Sharia law, women wearing clothes deemed too skimpy or revealing can receive fines, lashes and jail terms.
In Russia, the big news is that half the news has to be good news. "At their first meeting with journalists since taking over Russia's largest independent radio news network, the managers had startling news of their own: From now on, they said, at least 50 percent of the reports about Russia must be 'positive,'" reports Andrew Kramer at the New York Times.
"Journalists working for Russian News Network were told by the new managers, allies of the Kremlin," explains Kramer, "that opposition leaders could not be mentioned on the air and the United States was to be portrayed as an enemy."
In addition, a new decree forbids "extremism" in the media, reports Kramer, and "prosecutors are going after individuals who post critical comments on Web chat rooms." What's not recommended if one wishes to stay clear of Kremlin enforcers is a posting of George Orwell's applicable quote: "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever."
At last report, Russian police raids had succeeded in shutting down the website of the Glasnost Defence Foundation, a media rights group that monitors the abuses of press freedoms.
In Japan, arguing that Japanese women should raise the nation's plummeting birthrate, currently a record low of 1.26 children per woman, Health Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa, 71, offered this policy advise: "The number of women aged between 15 and 50 is fixed. Because the number of birth-giving machines and devices is fixed, all we can do is ask them to do their best per head."
The "birth-giving machines" were not happy.
Closer to home, Roy Pearson is suing his neighborhood dry cleaner for $65 million because of a pair of misplaced trousers.
After "two years, thousands of pages of legal documents and many hundreds of hours of investigative work later," explains Washington Post reporter Marc Fisher, Mr. Pearson "says he deserves millions for the damages he suffered by not getting his pants back, for his litigation costs, for 'mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort,' for the value of the time he has spent on the lawsuit, for leasing a car every weekend for 10 years and for a replacement suit, according to court papers."
Korean immigrants Ki, Jin and Soo Chung, the family that owns the shop, should pay $15,000 for a decade of weekend car rentals, according to Pearson, because he doesn't own a car and he's now being forced to rent one to get his clothes taken care of because he no longer trusts his local cleaner.
Pearson is also billing the Chungs for the 1,000 hours he's allegedly devoted to representing himself -- $541,500.
"By the way, Pearson is a lawyer," reports Fisher. "Okay, you probably figured that. But get this: He's a judge, too -- an administrative law judge for the District of Columbia."
For "emotional damages," Pearson wants another $500,000. "Pearson says in court papers," reports ABC News, that the missing trousers were the "prized pants he wanted to wear on his first day on the bench."
The Washington Post's Fisher explains how the bill got to $65,462,500: "The District's consumer protection law provides for damages of $1,500 per violation per day. Pearson started multiplying: 12 violations over 1,200 days, times three defendants. A pant leg here, a pant leg there, and soon, you're talking $65 million."
Says Soo Chung, "I don't want to live here anymore."
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