News monkey

A simian slant on last week's news ...
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The Independent Online
PINOCHET STAYS. When you hear Michael Howard talking about compassion you just know he's talking about a murderous fascist dictator. But most of the Tories seem to have fallen in behind their leader, Margaret Thatcher, regarding the predicament of her friend General Pinochet. Their insistence that Pinochet is too frail to face extradition must be corroborated if Jack Straw is to come to a fair decision. What's needed is an independent examination involving a series of simple physical tests to see, for example, precisely how long the general can hold his breath with a plastic bag over his head.

QUEEN SPEAKS. Even though the promised de-pompification of the Queen's Speech was barely noticeable, the announcement of the Bill to do away with hereditary peers must set a new precedent for a Queen's Speech containing things you never thought you'd hear the Queen say. How can they make her say such things? Perhaps they kept her up all night with a light shining in her eyes. It will certainly be difficult to top it in next year's speech, without forcing her to announce her abdication or a Bill to ban horse racing.

BEEF BAN LIFTED. It's not enough to lift the ban on British beef being sold to Europeans. We have to make them eat it, otherwise we'll never get rid of the stuff. Information is our only weapon in this war, which is why from now on all British export beef should carry a label which clearly states "Produit de France".

MISS WORLD ON AIR. All the lively debate surrounding the return of the Miss World pageant to terrestrial television has certainly put paid to the notion that we should be arguing about something else. Dragging the Miss World contest kicking and screaming into the 1980s may or may not have been a good idea, but it has at least assured the slightly adrift Channel 5 recognition as a refuge for previously untouchable television. One could even argue that such blatant sexism is better off on television where it can be monitored.

REAR OF THE YEAR. Who knows what sort of shady backroom dealing was involved in selecting Carol Smillie and Frank Skinner as Rears of the Year? The contest completely overlooks the legions of amateurs who train hard for less glamorous titles like Nicest Bum in Manchester or Arse of Tralee, leaving the award utterly devoid of credibility. Can anyone remember who won last year, or who sponsors the event? Would we even know if they hadn't waited a year? It's time this shameful, tacky, obsolete affair was televised live on Channel 5.

DOME NEWS. There's only good news down at the Millennium Dome. First the difficult decision of whether to have a giant man or a giant woman has been solved by having a giant man and a giant woman. Second, the Jubilee Line extension will be finished 11 days before the Dome opens, down from 14 months. The fact that they don't want to practise with the trains and the escalators beforehand shows just how confident they are. Even the sponsorship seems right on target. Boots is sponsoring Mr and Mrs Giant, while McDonald's is paying for not one, but two McDonald's restaurants. Two McDonald's. They'll come from all over the world just to see it.