News monkey

A simian slant on last week's news ...
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The Independent Online
t MONKFIGHT. Monks have always engaged in unlikely pursuits, such as making alcohol or hit records, but the Buddhist monks of Chogye Temple in Seoul continue to challenge our out-dated notions of "monkness" by beating the living daylights out of each other. Two rival monk gangs, the Purification and Reform Committee and the Constitutional Safeguards Committee, have been involved in a series of clashes over the election of a temple administrator, the latest of which left seven injured. Assembled riot police did not intervene - presumably because they found it funny.

t CRANBORNE SACKED. Depending on how you look at it, William Hague's sacking of Viscount Cranborne was either a strategic masterstroke that went horribly wrong or a principled stand which backfired miserably. The subsequent resignation of six peers may seem a blow to his leadership, but perhaps Hague's true motive has yet to become clear - he may be trying to demonstrate that hereditary peers aren't as Tory as Tony Blair says they are.

t EUROPEAN VETO ROW. It's still weeks before the single currency sets sail without Britain, and already Germany and France are talking about us as if we weren't here, and Oskar Lafontaine is trying to mess with our heads by talking about scrapping our veto. They don't really mean it - they're just nervous about risking all on this crazy euro business. Instead of bickering, Britain should show it supports the harmonisation of European taxes, and continue to work with our neighbours until the tax structure of every EU country is identical to ours.

t PINOCHET MOVED. The Wentworth Estate is yet another string to Britain's bow in its attempt to become an international despot processing centre. While some countries may boast a better record on human rights, few could boast such a varied collection of large, secure, well-insured houses available on short lets and discreetly located so close to London's celebrated police and judicial services. One suspects that Pinochet will look back on his time awaiting extradition here with some fondness, and when word gets out several more of the world's war criminals and dictators may come knocking, begging for British justice.

t CHRISTMAS SHOPPING STRESSFUL. Men across Britain are greeting Dr David Lewis's contention that Christmas shopping can damage a man's health with the same three words: Nice one, mate! Who said large-scale studies of the psychology of shopping were a complete waste of time? From these stunning results it should be a matter of only a few logical steps to positive proof that housework, repetitive in-law exposure, parents' night and most forms of DIY are like kryptonite to the average bloke.

t LEAVE OF ABSINTHE. Absinthe, the stylish green wormwood drink of fin de siecle Paris, is to be imported to the UK for the first time in 80 years. The quasi-legal, hallucinogenic, 70 per cent proof by volume, bug-juice-of-the-Impressionists will be marketed as the ultimate in decadent drinking for the Millennium. The combination of absinthe, 24-hour pub licensing and the rioting caused by the Millennium Bug should ensure that for many people the End of the World will be right on time.