News monkey: A simian slant on last week's news ...

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The Independent Online
FAMILY PAPER. It is a tried-and-tested rule that governmental pronouncements on the family always backfire, but it seems that each new government has to learn this lesson for itself. While it is clear that the traditional Tory family unit of husband, wife and 18-year-old nightclub hostess is a thing of the past, the modern Labour family of husband, wife, health visitor and marriage counsellor may still be ahead of its time. The Daily Mail came out firmly against the proposals, presumably on the grounds that if Labour's plans had been implemented, Della and Grant Bovey might have stayed married, Anne Diamond's husband wouldn't have a black eye, and the Daily Mail would be about four pages long.

REVERSAL OF REVERSAL OF FORTUNE. As the Democrats miraculously gain five seats in the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections, we must now accept that Bill Clinton's Oval Office dalliance with a chunky intern was actually a good idea - high-risk perhaps, but it paid off. Successful political strategies from US elections often find their way to Britain, although it seems unlikely that Super Family Guy Tony Blair will attempt a tawdry affair while growth slows to 1 per cent. It does, however, provide a unique incentive to get the ball rolling.

AIR RAGE. The phenomenon of air rage is often used by airlines to imply that human beings are becoming less civilised, as if we had nothing at all to be less civilised about. It seems more likely that the increasing incidence of air rage is the fault of the airlines, which are clearly targeting the criminal classes as customers. Who do they think is going to be on a pounds 39 return flight to Malaga? A proposed world-wide blacklist for naughty passengers may see cheap holiday destinations fill up with criminals who are unable to get a flight back to the no-go area they call home. Tenerife and Majorca could eventually become penal islands, for which their infrastructure is remarkably well suited, as visitors well know.

YOU KNOW WHO. News Monkey has decided to observe the BBC's blanket ban on discussing the sexuality of a certain special someone, just for fun. Therefore, this column will solemnly undertake to avoid any mention of Peter Mandelson's - whoops! this is harder than it looks! - alleged thingy from now until such time as BBC infighting makes it news all over again.

EURO STEPS. In an attempt to impress Germany's new Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, Peter Mandelson said "when" rather than "if" regarding - please, it's nothing to do with that - the euro. It seems we will almost certainly join the single currency in 2002 provided that 1) the economic conditions make joining in Britain's interest, and 2) we're not all dead by then.

MILLENNIUM BUG CHAOS. While most of us are sanguine about the idea that, come 1 January 2000, our high scores on Tomb Raider may be lost for ever, reports show that senior military officers are planning for a Millennium Bug "doomsday scenario", preparing to deploy troops when widespread disruption to services may cause rioting. The fact that senior military strategists think we are all going to wake up early on New Year's Day and riot because the fax machine is showing the wrong date reveals just how out of touch with the world the Armed Forces are. The reason is sadly obvious: not enough gays.

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