FLAT EARTH

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The Independent Online
Not in my backyard

The developers had spent a lot of money on the housing scheme in Bakersfield, California. The houses had five bedrooms, a Jacuzzi, and a garden large enough for a swimming pool, so you can understand that they did not want just anyone living there. Specifically, they did not want any lawyers.

As they probably should have anticipated, a rejected lawyer is suing them. The developer's legal heavies say the policy is based on sound business reasoning: lawyers are more apt to threaten litigation, requiring greater management time and legal fees.

"I think that is repugnant to the American brand of freedom," says the plaintiff. "Who is next? Maybe they are afraid if they sell to a police officer that a crime would be exposed." I don't know - if anything can give discrimination a good name, maybe this case can.

Visit - or else

"National traitor destructive elements are spreading fabricated news on Myanmar in collaboration with some foreign broadcasting stations, and there is a plot to belittle the dignity of the state," said the powerful Secretary One of Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council.

What, I hear you ask, has precipitated this serious pronouncement? Well, it is the state of Burma's tourism. Only 477,362 tourists came during the past year, and the authorities are blaming "traitor elements". The failure of the world's tourists to flock to Burma has, in the government's view, nothing to do with the fact that it is a highly authoritarian regime accused in a recent report of jailing more than 1,000 political prisoners, that there are persistent allegations of repression and human rights violations including torture, and forced labour. "The actual situation is very different," said the Burmese ambassador to Japan last week. "The government may be a military junta, but they are also Buddhist, guided by the principles of love and compassion."

Return to sender

It took millions of years for nature to carve out the Grand Canyon - and no time at all for the US Postal Service to misplace it.

The Postal Service had begun to print an order for nearly 101 million stamps of the natural wonder engraved with "Grand Canyon, Colorado" when it had to halt production last week. The Grand Canyon was carved by the Colorado River, but is actually in Arizona.

Let's hope they have nothing to do with drawing up target maps for Nato.

FIONA BELL

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