Zooming In

October 26, 2006

Madonna and Child

Gelf highlights overlooked coverage from local media around the world. In this edition: Norwegian Vodka; conjugal visits for an assassin; and anal lightning.

David Goldenberg

Zooming In
Paul Antonson
Some of the most insightful writing from outside the U.S. comes from local media. In this occasional feature, Gelf identifies noteworthy stories that haven't gotten much attention outside local borders.


Eleven years ago, Yigal Amir assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin. Earlier this week, he had state-sponsored sex with his wife (Ha'aretz). In keeping with Israeli law (for the purpose of bringing more Israelis into the world, perhaps), every prisoner is entitled to one eight-hour, unsupervised conjugal visit each month with his wife. According to an editorial in Ha'aretz by Nehemia Shtrasler, Amir married Larissa Trimbobler in a "messenger service wedding" and has been smuggling sperm to her. "The potential murderer to come knows that the current murderer has become the stuff of young girls' dreams in some settlements, and the cultural hero of right-wing factions," Shtrasler writes. "Now it is clear that he is permitted to marry, engage in routine sexual relations, and bring children into the world. Perhaps, in the future, he will be granted furloughs and an abbreviated sentence. Then it will be clear that it is not so bad to murder a prime minister in Israel and worth polishing one's gun."


Local liquor maker Arcus thinks that Smirnoff Vodka, based in Norwalk, Connecticut, is trying to pull a fast one by calling its newest drink "Nørsk." That's because "Norsk" means "Norwegian" in Norwegian, and the only truly Norwegian vodka is made by Arcus. Smirnoff officials, though, tell Aftenposten that they aren't pretending to be Norwegian. By using an "ø" in their label, they claim, they have created a nonsensical word that evokes "Nordic" qualities, not necessarily Norwegian ones.


"Today mottled bamboo sent me a sister saying an ashes class big pawn will visit me. I'm so glad because I rice gruel him so much. I'm his vermicelli." What's that? According to Liu Shinan of China Daily, Chinese netizens have changed the language so much that the above phrase actually means, "Today my web host sent me an email saying a well-respected computer guy will visit me. I'm so glad because I like him so much. I'm his fan." Shinan also points out that the preferred word for hacker "hei ke" literally means "black guest."


Natasha Timarovic's tragic story became an internet phenomenon, was the basis of the most popular article in The Australian this month, and even earned her a mention on the Countdown with Keith Olbermann. That's because the lightning that struck her in the mouth (as she brushed her teeth) exited through her anus. The rubber bathroom shoes on her feet probably saved her life, but it meant that the lightning needed another path to reach the ground. Despite severe burns to her bottom, Timarovic only needed to stay in the hospital for one night.


madonna and child
Maybe you haven't been watching the news, reading the tabloids, or checking out Oprah recently. You've still probably heard that our favorite pseudo-British actress/singer/celebrity—Madonna—has adopted a child from Malawi. Everyone seems to have an expert opinion about it, and columnists from around sub-Saharan Africa are no exception. In Zimbabwe's Harare Herald, Taonezvi Shepherd Mararike writes an editorial claiming that Madonna has used her wealth to purchase a child. Mararike, though, loses some credibility when he weirdly links Kabbalah to the KKK. In Rwanda's New Times, Mwiti Marete writes that Madonna's adoption of David Banda "could open doors to anyone from anywhere to come grab any black child and take it to the West and do whatever they like with it, without consequences." In South Africa's Business Day, an editorial adds that "The symbolism of the act—a rich, white woman removing a child from its home and culture—smacks of a new kind of slavery." While Rasna Warah of Kenya's The Nation agrees with much of the criticism, she adds, "The visits to Africa by celebrities have, however, had one unintended, but positive, impact. A recent New York Times article reported that tourism in several African countries is on the rise. Hopefully this will boost the economies of some of the African countries from which these children are being adopted."

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Article by David Goldenberg

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