TUESDAY, January 1, 2008


MON DEU!… On January 1, France begins enforcing a ban on smoking in restaurants, hotels, casinos, cafes and brasseries. The ban was instituted after doctors concluded that tobacco use accounted for 61,000 French deaths a year -- a health threat rivaled only by excessive viewing of Jerry Lewis movies.

PICTURE IMPERFECT… Thieves at the Sao Paulo Museum of Art staged a daring heist in which they made off with Picasso’s “Portrait of Susan Bloch” valued at $50 million. Several witnesses told police the robbers appeared to be women with both eyes on the same side of their face.

COUNTDOWN… At 81 years and 243 days, Queen Elizabeth II has become Britain’s oldest-ever monarch, eclipsing the record previously held by Queen Victoria. In April, she will become the longest reigning queen in history -- unless, of course, you count Elton John.

“We need to counter the shockwave of the evildoer by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates.”

George W. Bush 10/4/01 Washington, DC

FAREWELL… 2007 saw these entrepreneurs depart the world stage:

1] Robert Adler, 93, inventor of the TV remote control. He died in February but wasn’t buried until April. No one could find him.

2] Dr. J. Robert Cade, 80, inventor of Gatorade. Following cremation, his ashes were placed in a six-pack of urns with a plastic carry handle.

3] Ken Hendricks, 66, founder of ABC Roofing & Siding which became an industry leader. He found an undertaker who’d bury him for free if he sold his neighbors on the concept.

4] William Becker, 85, founder of the Motel 6 chain. He was buried in a cut rate coffin with very little padding, no pillow and handles that came off in the pallbearers’ hands.

5] Warren Avis, 92, founder of Avis Rent-A-Car. He attributed his long life to doctors who tried harder.

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password: independence

VICTORIA’S SECRET… Newly declassified documents have revealed a 1950 plan by J. Edgar Hoover to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and imprison 12,000 Americans whom he suspected of disloyalty “to protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage.” Worse, Eddie also wanted to seize, without a court-approved warrant, the lace underwear of their wives.

SWITCHEROO… Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, formerly a member of the Church of England, has formally defected and has declared himself a Catholic. A move that historians have characterized as the British equivalent of Katie Couric switching from NBC to CBS.

CSI CAIRO… Egyptologists now contend that the Discovery Channel’s “Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen” may have relied on uncorroborated scientific evidence to declare their 3500 year old mummy to be that of Queen Hatshepsut. Seems they were using pre-DNA techniques pioneered in the 1970’s to authenticate Cher.

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WHAM!… Astrologers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena have identified an asteroid traveling at 27,900 miles per hour that they’ve given a one in twenty-five chance of slamming into Mars. Which, they point out, would produce the most violent collision since Rosie O’Donnell landed on Donald Trump.

EARLY BIRDERS… The town of Greenburgh, NY is experimenting with a program that allows seniors to work off their property taxes at government agencies. Which explains that fire truck I spotted last week with its left turn signal permanently flashing.

ROYALTY… Egyptian government officials will attempt to copyright its pyramids, scarab beetles and other well known ancient artifacts. The law will be enforced by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities which so far, has issued only one performance license to Steve Martin to sing “King Tut, born in Babylonia… raised in Arizonia.”

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BRING ’EM ON… Rudy Giuliani has released a new TV ad in which he assures voters that “When you challenge Americans, there’s no country that stands up stronger and better when you come here and try to kill our people.” Hasn’t changed his poll numbers in the US, but he is up ten points in Karachi.

ON FURTHER REVIEW… The NCAA has launched a $1 million program in which a 15-member governing board will attempt to provide more consistency in officiating. Their goal is to improve on-field use of instant replay… increase training of new referees… and establish a slush fund to help referees defray their gambling losses.

BIBLE BILLBOARD… Country stars who have scrambled aboard the religious-themed bandwagon include Vince Gill with “Give Me Jesus”… Brad Paisley’s “The Old Rugged Cross” and Sara Evans’s “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.” Expected to be released in the Spring:

1] Dolly Parton’s “That Bible in the Nightstand Says No Lovin’ Here Tonight.”

2] “I Want More Sodom in My Gomorra” by Billy Ray Cyrus

3] Reba McIntire’s “Rhinestone Moses"

4] And Garth Brooks’ “God Bless My Hat”

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HILTON TILTIN’… Paris Hilton’s grandfather Barron Hilton, son of Conrad Hilton who founded the hotel chain, will donate 97% of his $2.3 billion estate to charity. Deeply effected by this expression of generosity, Paris has donated $2.3 million to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to build a drive-thru jail for incarcerated pop iconvicts.

PHOTO OP… The winner of the Miss France contest, Valerie Begue, was replaced by the first runner-up, Miss Caledonia, after nude photos of her were, in violation of pageant rules, published in Entrevue Magazine. On a positive note for Valerie though, she was awarded the coveted “Overall Career Enhancement Trophy,” established in honor of Vanessa Williams.

RECONSTRUCTING HARRY… Over a half million hits have been registered at the website of the British Royal Family which features a Christmas message from Queen Elizabeth. In January, the site will launch its first commercial -- Prince Harry endorsing Bombay Gin.

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DUCK & COVER… For the first time in the Rose Parade’s 119 year history, a float was entered representing the Peoples Republic of China. And an exciting one, to say the least. Spectators along Colorado Boulevard were stunned when it began lobbing ground-to-air missiles at the Taiwan float.

SHOW & TELL… Contest officials in Texas disqualified a six-year old from winning a free trip to New York City to attend a Hanna Montana concert after her mom admitted helping the youngster write an essay claiming her dad was a casualty in Iraq. All is not lost, however. The girl has been hired to play a fake disaster victim at FEMA press conferences.

LIVE FROM NEW YORK!… Longtime Saturday Night Live regular Jimmy Fallon married his producer girlfriend Nancy Juvonen on Necker Island in the Caribbean. But critics were quick to point out that the ceremony lacked the humor and sharp social commentary which marked prior marriages of cast members who predated the show‘s current decline into mediocrity.

DEAR AMERICANS… Osama bin Laden has released a new 30 minute audio tape in which he vows to “increase Holy War terror.” Which, according to reliable insiders, will include the Geneva-condemned practice of strapping interrogation victims to Ann Coulter.

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