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Why just hate America when you can also hate Jordan? A car bomb exploded Thursday at the Jordanian Embassy in Iraq. At least 11 people were killed and 50 injured. Shortly after the embassy blast, another car bomb went off in a Baghdad shopping district and prompted a firefight as American vehicles flooded the zone. The embassy may have been targeted by people who disagreed with Jordan's recent offer to take in Saddam Hussein's daughters, or by those who thought Jordan's support of America in the war in Iraq was wrong. The latter is most likely, as several young Iraqis entered the embassy following the explosion to destroy pictures of King Abdullah II.




Anyone can be governor. Really. Arnold Schwarzenegger chose NBC's Tonight Show as the place to announce his candidacy for California governor on Wednesday. (Couldn't he have at least picked Conan? Conan's funny.) The Austrian-born Terminator has tons going for him, namely that he's famous and his name doesn't rhyme with Gray Davis. Plus, he's a moderate Republican who helped push through a state initiative to fund after-school programs. Besides, Californians are so free-to-be-you-and-me that, hey, why shouldn't a political novice run the state? Why shouldn't Gary Coleman run? Why shouldn't the hard-pressed state spend millions to decide whether to recall a governor its citizens elected last November? The Black Table is happier than it usually is about not living in California. And that's hard. (In happier news, Jerry Springer has taken it upon himself to give up his Senate bid in Ohio. Glad that memo went through all right.)

At least they don't have the whole protecting-pedophiles problem. The Episcopal Church approved the election Tuesday of Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the first openly gay bishop. Opponents fear that Robinson's election could create a schism in the church and called for the international body of the Anglican Communion to intervene. Supporters said the vote would draw new members, especially young people, to join the ranks of 2.3 million faithful in the United States. The vote was scheduled for Monday, but it was delayed after a New Hampshire parishioner accused the bishop of inappropriately touching him on the arm and upper back. The parishioner, who described the event as "harassment," later said he didn't want to pursue the matter further. Church leaders voted Wednesday to allow dioceses to individually determine whether to offer same-sex unions.




Hot air isn't just a French thing any more. Europe is crazy hot this summer -- Belgian waffles are frying on the sidewalks. Rivers and ponds have dried up, and wildfires are raging. Italian weather experts call the heat wave one of the five worst in the past 150 years and expected the sizzle to last until September. London's temperature peaked at a historic high of 95.7 degrees, and 38 deaths across the Continent have been blamed on heat or wildfires. Paris isn't burning, but parts of Croatia, Greece, Spain, Portugal and France are. And parts of the Danube River evaporated to levels so low that World War II wrecks peeked above the water line in the Balkans.




It all makes sense if you use new math. Though more than 6 percent of Americans are still out of work, productivity increased 5.7 percent in the second quarter of 2003. And not as many people are losing their jobs - new unemployment claims were counted at 390,000 just below the danger zone of 400,000. The numbers compliment each other -- why hire new employees when you can just work your current employees like crazy? But even though fewer people got canned recently, the "recovery," for what its worth, is still jobless. Somehow, consumers are still spending away, much to the consternation of economic textbook authors.




Save the whales (for science)! Iceland plans to hunt minke whales in August and September, the country's Ministry of Fisheries announced Wednesday. Iceland explained to the International Whaling Commission that there are so many whales around that Iceland's fishing industry is threatened. What is usually explained as "thinning the herd" is referred to in Iceland as "scientific whaling." Japan also participates in "scientific research whaling" and then eats the projects, which are popular consumer products. Norway doesn't give a shit and hunts whatever it wants. The Ministry of Fisheries tried to make the whales feel better by explaining that while they were originally planning to hunt for 100 whales, now only 38 will be killed in the name of science.



Aileen Gallagher, author of three children's books, (and another one, about muckraking, on the way!) writes Weekly Rundown every Friday.