FLAT EARTH

A worm in the Big Apple

NEVER mind the dismay that spread through India last week when the sun was devoured by a demon - worse confusion reigns on the Flat Earth desk when a prodigy appears on the horizon whose awfulness eclipses even that of Malcolm Rifkind. I refer of course to the Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, who took advantage of the gathering of world leaders in his city to suck up to his Jewish constituents by (a) inviting Yasser Arafat to a concert hosted by the city, then (b) sending in his thugs to throw the Palestinian leader out. This was a calculated appeal to the more extreme Jewish voters in New York which has long been a catchment area for the craziest settlers on the West Bank. The claims of New York to be the diplomatic capital of the world are seriously undermined by the presence of the cadaverous Rudolph, who even the absurdly pro-Israeli New York Times suggests has taken leave of his senses.

Mes braves

LE JOUR de gloire est arrive! No, no, honestly, it has. French hearts must have swollen with pride, and even we have to admit a vicarious thrill, as news of the latest feat of arms reached us from Brindisi, where, winking genially at international law, the destroyer Dupleix rammed a Greenpeace ship, then sent aboard axe-wielding commandos to scuttle it. This victory over the sullen ecologists follows similar encounters with Greenpeace ships and a Polynesian canoe in the South Pacific this year. It's true you have to go back quite some time to find the French navy attacking anyone disobliging enough actually to be armed. A battle against a Thai destroyer off Indochina in 1941 is the only example we can find, and that must have seemed a safe enough bet. Against the Germans, of course in the same year - but no, let's draw a veil over that. Not that a veil is now needed. The new roll of honour - Mururoa, Fangataufa, Brindisi - outshines any doubts on the score of French courage.

Good night, Vienna

WHAT exactly is biting the Austrians? Or, to put it another way, does Vienna have the worst-tempered airport in the world? A recent stopover there made clear, to me at least, why tourism has fallen off so greatly in this picturesque former corner of the Reich. (The Austrian tourist board has just launched a marketing campaign across the EU with the oddly resistible plea "Come And See the New Member!") At the first bar we came to in the airport, we were still gaping at the prices - pounds 10 a glass of champagne, pounds 5 a coffee - when the barmaid approached.

"Ja?"

"Er, arrgh, just looking thanks," we said, conscious of the very few schillings in our pockets.

"Ha!" she cried. "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!" - not a strong script, I agree, but add to it a toss of the auburn beehive and contemptuous tattoo of departing high heels. Suitably downtrodden, we went to the cheaper bar around the corner. There, an envenomed young person behind the bar snatched money from my companion's hands, took what was needed for our drinks, and threw the remainder back on the counter towards her. She'd been to Austria before, and laughed at my amazement. "What else do you expect in a place where they sell dangerous dogs in the soft-toy department?" she asked. And sure enough, in the duty free shop across the way loomed a life-size Doberman Pinscher, glass eyes ablaze among the teddies and fluffy ducks.

Cultured vultures

MORE tourist fun in Miami, where, as winter approaches in Europe, the sun continues to shine, and the tourists gather.With them, come flocks of American turkey vultures. Ornithologists say as many as 6,000 of the giant birds winter in Miami, which they like because the columns of air sent up by skyscrapers help them soar when searching for carrion. Given the tendency of the natives of Miami to rob and murder tourists, the fact that many of the vultures roost on the roof of Dade County Court House seems significant. It is a sign of the intelligence of these birds, or perhaps of the moral order of the universe, that such symbols congregate at the most appropriate places.

See you later, 'gator

HERE'S the picture: sun blazing down on the Outback, a kookaburra's mad laugh, then into sight comes that traditional Australian procession: a convict pursued through the bush by a crowd of policemen. Raymond Rankine, wanted for threatening to kill, reached the Ord River and jumped in. Half way across, a 12ft crocodile (of course) slides off the bank and gives chase. Police fire at the croc, giving Raymond time to head up the other bank and run into the trees, without even a wave or a cooee. He hasn't been seen since. Ingratitude, sharper than a serpent's tooth...

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SECONDARY SUPPLY TEACHERS NEEDED IN AND AROUND SWALE

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Description Randstad Education i...

Geography Teacher, full time supply role, Thanet Academy

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The School Randstad are proud to...

Science Teacher, full time supply role, Thanet Academy

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The School Randstad are proud to...

English Teacher, full time supply role, Isle of Sheppey

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job: Our client school is lo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week