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  THE WEEKLY RUNDOWN FOR FEB. 14  
   
   
 

National:

America Freaks Out! An increased threat alert (Now we're at Orange) has caused Americans to fear for an attack the government claims is increasingly likely. In response, millions across the country are buying excessive amounts of duct tape. From antiaircraft missiles poised in the shadow of the Washington Monument to an increased police presence in New York City, the whole thing is, well, pretty fucked up.

Though the U.S. has not named a specific time or place, intelligence officials believe a terrorist attack -- expected to rival or exceed the carnage of the Sept. 11 attacks -- could coincide with the end of the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. That was yesterday (roughly). That would make an attack most likely to happen … oh … right about now.

Stay tuned to your local, fear-mongering newscast to learn absolutely no information of value. The Black Table is reacting to the increased threat level by raising its alcohol ingestion levels. Significantly. (Well, that and telling you how not to die on the subways.)

Watch it there, Poindexter. The U.S. Senate curtailed the powers of the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program, or as The Black Table likes to call it, the "Stasi-like Invasion of Privacy" program. TIA, which intended to gather electronic data on everyone (email, cell phone calls, credit card transactions, you name it), will lose its funding unless the Department of Defense can prove its usefulness beyond violating the Fourth Amendment. This plan is so awful, liberal and conservatives joined forces to fight it.

Happily, former Adm. John Poindexter started the whole thing, and no one likes him because he was convicted of lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, only to have his conviction overturned on a technicality. An internal oversight board will also observe TIA and report back to Congress. There are so many oversights here, we're tripping.

World:

It's no better across the pond. Fearing similar security threats in the U.K., the British government surrounded Heathrow Airport with tanks and then urged everyone to be "alert, not alarmed." Right. Back to our tea. Hey, is Dame Edna on?

While all attention was turned to Heathrow, England's biggest and busiest airport, a man flying from Venezuela to England's Gatwick airport was arrested for carrying a live hand grenade in his luggage, which was likely not marked "Fragile." This is what happens when you disagree with France.

Business:

Game over. Atari will cease operations this month, after decades of encouraging American shiftlessness, obesity and improved hand-eye coordination. The company that introduced Pong was bought by Midway Games in 1996. Midway says Atari must close as a cost-saving measure. The Black Table gives a fond farewell to the Atari employees, one of whom worked on Atari's second title ever, Tank (Much like Pong, but with more of a "blip" than a "boink.").

In other gaming news, Sega announced Thursday it would merge with Japanese game maker Sammy. Sammy is famous for making pachinko machines, which are apparently a cross between a slot machine and pinball. Sammy and Sonic will now make sweet, pixilated love.


Otherwise:

Oh, so this is why public schools fail! A Harlem school principal was arrested during school hours after police caught her squatting and pissing outside of her Mercedes Benz. And she was drunk. Evelyn Peralta-Tessitore had been arrested in 1982 for smoking pot, and in 1990 for shoplifting. Just who the Black Table wants supervising its kids' education. OK, we don't have any kids. OK, we shoplift and we smoke pot. But at least we don't teach at the same time.

Dude, you're getting community service! Benjamin Curtis, wearing a kilt and standing on a crowded New York street corner (a street corner just two blocks from Black Table headquarters, we might add) last weekend, thought it was a good time to buy a little weed. Well, it wasn't. Curtis, who before only would have been remembered as the annoying "Dell Dude," will now be remembered as the "Incredibly Stupid, Annoying Dell Dude."

*BT*