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If you can't eat it, steal it. After "coalition" forces took Baghdad last week, hundreds of Iraqis responded by looting the shit out of the entire city. Perhaps the greatest loss was the destruction of the Baghdad Museum, home to what many archeologists consider the finest collection of antiquities in the Middle East. Libraries, monuments, museums and excavation sites all over the country were sacked, and the UN has responded with plans to send an international archeological team to assess the damage.

Collect and trade with your enemies! U.S. Forces on Thursday captured Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, Saddam Hussein's half brother. Al-Tikriti is believed to have helped Saddam funnel billions of dollars into other countries and was also head of Iraq's intelligence ministry in the 1980s. Al-Tikriti's face also represented the five of clubs in the U.S. government's deck of "most wanted Iraqis" cards.




How much is enough to challenge Bush? The McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws seems to have helped Democrats, who released financial figures this week. McCain-Feingold upped the maximum amount of an individual's contribution to $2,000 from $1,000. Individual contributions made up a good chunk of the $24.7 million that the eight Democratic candidates (except for Al Sharpton, who didn't file his financials) raised in the first three months of 2003. An analysis by <EM>The New York Times</EM> revealed that more than $7 million was raised exclusively through the extra individual contributions allowable by McCain-Feingold. Are there really that many people with a spare two grand running around? It's not as if campaign contributions are tax deductible. Maybe it's time for Black Table in 2004. We've gotta pay rent, you know.

Turn it down a yellow notch. Except for New York, the country's alert level has downgraded from Orange to Yellow. Though exactly how terror-fied you're supposed to be is unclear, the terror is definitely more yellow than orange now. The country has been Orange since March 17 (much to the fury of Irish Americans, for whom orange represents the color of Protestant England), the day on which Saddam Hussein was supposed to disarm. Increased security measures at places like bridges and nuclear power plants will also be relaxed. The extra armed presence, known as Operation Liberty Shield, was costing governments at all levels tons of extra cash.




Do these places really count as Europe? Ten new nations, mostly former Soviet bloc countries, joined the European Union this week during a special summit in Athens, clearly the cradle of democracy. The 10 new countries: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. In a joint statement at the end of the session, the EU called for the United Nations to have a "central role" in the rebuilding of Iraq. Uh-huh.

Monkeys know everything. Scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) are "99 percent sure" that they found the coronavirus behind Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. WHO scientists learned this after injecting monkeys with the suspected virus and found that they developed the same symptoms as humans diagnosed with SARS. (Didn't they do that in Project X?)




Those were porn sites? Whoops. After getting more than 46,000 complaints, the Federal Trade Commission is seeking to shut down a spam operation that uses e-mails with boring subject lines like "did you hear the news?" to advertise porno sites. The FTC accused Brian D. Westby of Missouri of spamming consumers in an effort to draw business to his "Married but Lonely" site. The e-mails also contained false information about the sender, a practice called "spoofing." (Anyone who's received some kinky Black Table e-mails, sorry about that. Those were only supposed to go to our mom.) Users who tried to unsubscribe received an error message. The federal complaint will be filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois. Case updates will be sent via e-mail to everyone on earth with the subject line, "Porn Guy Gets it in the Ass."



Now you can eat all the carbs you want. Dr. Robert Atkins, originator of the popular high-protein diet that bore his name, died Thursday from head injuries suffered when he fell on ice. His book, Diet Revolution, first published in 1972, is one of the top-50 selling books of all time. Critics said the Atkins diet had long-term risks, such as osteoporosis and kidney problems. Supporters said they got to eat lots of bacon, and, really, what could be bad about that?



Aileen Gallagher, author of three children's books, writes Weekly Rundown every Friday.