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Mission: Unpossible. President George W. Bush addressed the United Nations on Tuesday, requesting support for more troops and aid to Iraq. The president also upheld the attack on Iraq, saying, "Nations of the world must have the wisdom and the will to stop grave threats before they arrive." UN delegates were unimpressed with the president's words, offering tepid applause only to his most innocuous statements (who besides R. Kellu isn't against the child sex slave trade?). Bush's plea for help could go unanswered, but The Black Table bets the UN is a little bigger than that. After much Franco-German hand-wringing, help will likely be on the way. But that help will follow American orders.

Nothing at the bottom of the cereal box. American searches have found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to a draft report leaked on Wednesday. The search team, led by former UN weapons inspector David Kay, searched for four months and found exactly what UN inspector Hans Blix did: zilch. However, the Kay report states that the team did find materials possibly used in building such weapons, and interviews with Iraqi scientists and security officers show that weapons programs existed in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion in March. Sorry, Mr. President. You'll have to come up with some other lame after-the-fact justifications of this war.




If you'd like to make a Do-Not-Call, please hang up and dial again. A federal judge quashed the national Do-Not-Call Registry on Wednesday, reasoning that Congress did not grant the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explicit authority to create the list. The new rules, preventing telemarketers from calling those on the registry with whom they do not already do business, were supposed to take effect October 1. About 50 million people signed up for the service, which mirrored lists compiled by individual states. The U.S. House of Representatives voted 412 to 8 on Thursday (possibly the fastest legislation to ever move through the House) to overturn the federal court ruling by ratifying the FTC's rule. Expect the Direct Marketing Association, which filed the original suit, to continue its litigation. Until it's all settled, The Black Table recommends you get on your state's Do-Not-Call list, or simply never answer the phone.




Ah, progress. An Islamic appeals court in Nigeria overturned a death-by-stoning sentence for a woman convicted of adultery. A panel of judges rejected the conviction (and sentence) on a series of technicalities. Anima Lawal, the court said, was not given enough time to defend herself. Also, since Lawal was not caught having sex with anyone (her pregnancy gave her away), the court found she was unfairly convicted. Simply put, Lawal no longer has to fear being buried up to her neck in sand and then stoned to death. What a system. Thanks, guys!

The G in Germany stands for Justice. A public school teacher can wear her traditional Islamic headscarf, Germany's highest court ruled Wednesday. The court found that there was no law against wearing such an item and told the state of Baden-Württemberg that if people were that upset about it, they should legislate against head scarves. This is what countries are reduced to bickering about when they already offer national health care.




Time to rethink that road trip. In a surprise announcement, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC, to you), cut oil production by 3.5 percent in an attempt to boost profits before demand dwindles early next year. Beginning November 1, OPEC will produce only 24.5 million barrels of oil a day, down 900,000. The oil market responded with a per-barrel increase of over a dollar. Other oil-producing countries that are not members of OPEC, like Russia or Norway, can produce as much or as little oil as they think the market will bear. OPEC predicts that current supplies will surpass demand by about 2.5 million barrels in April. The production cut mean that gas and heating oil prices will, for the most part, remain the same.




Do that many people eat at Red Lobster? The president of Red Lobster was fired after too many people lined up for the all-you-can-eat crab dinner. Parent company Darden Restaurants Inc. said second helpings were fine, but thirds and fourths sunk profits. The Black Table prefers the haute cuisine of Seafood Shanty, where we ate once with the family in third grade.



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