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I thought we already won? After being suddenly called back to Washington, Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer is on his way to Baghdad this week with orders to pick up the pace. November has been a bloody month in Iraq; 31 Italians were killed Wednesday after a suicide bomber attacked a barracks. (Since November 1, 57 coalition soldiers were killed, 39 of whom were American.) The original U.S. plan was not to cede power back to Iraq until an actual government was in place. But the Bush Administration appears willing to give some power back to an interim leader. Bush felt the heat following the CIA's portrayal of Iraq as a country teetering precariously between the stability of democracy and the chaos of anarchy. The Black Table is sadly confident that the death toll will rise considerably before there's anything resembling a stable democracy in Iraq.




Apparently, God doesn't have the final say on this one. Alabama Chief Justice Ray Moore has lost his seat on the bench for his refusal to follow a federal court order to remove his monument to the Ten Commandments from the state courthouse. At his one-day trial, Moore countered that he was "restoring the moral foundation of law" with the monument and said he would willfully disobey the court's ruling again, if he could. Christian fundamentalists decried the ruling, one calling it the "darkest day" he had ever seen in America (this individual apparently wasn't in the country on September 11, 2001). Moore will appeal the ruling to the Alabama Supreme Court (which voted unanimously to suspend him following his refusal to follow the federal order). Unfortunately, Moore has plenty of time to think of more crackpot ideas to earn adulation from the Religious Right. He cryptically told reporters following the trial: "I will announce something in a few weeks that will alter the course of the country." The Black Table warns readers to be on the lookout for locusts and dead cattle.

At least no one's actions have consequences, ever. A Pennsylvania judge decided Wednesday that three teenagers accused of sodomizing teammates in a football camp hazing incident are to be tried as juveniles. The Long Island High School varsity players were, unfortunately, not 18 at the time they shoved pinecones, golf balls, and other awful things in the rectums of three younger students. At worst, the reprehensible jocks will be in a detention center until the age of 21. Not a bad deal for brutally ruining some smaller, younger kids' lives.




Good thing no one is starving themselves for peace. Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat sought reconciliation with Israel on Wednesday, saying his government did "not deny the right of Israeli people to live in security side by side with Palestinian people also living in their own independent state." Israeli officials blew Arafat off but agreed to meet with his new cabinet soon. The two countries have been willfully ignoring each other for the past couple months, following the most recent crumbling of the peace process back in August. The new prime minister, Abu Ala, said his wants to "attain a complete and mutual cease-fire with the Israeli government." The Black Table wishes the two countries much luck and even more hope.




I'm Ted. I'll be your airline today. Huh? The wackiness never stops up there in the friendly skies. Come February, United Airlines hopes you'll ask Ted for a ride home. Ted, an unfortunately-named discount airline, will offer flights to eight cities from the Denver hub. A United executive said the name was chosen "soften the institutional feeling" of the giant airline. The Black Table knew a couple guys named Ted and hated them. Plus, the cultural icons are not what you want to be comparing yourself to. Ted Kennedy? No thanks. Ted Bundy? Yikes. Guys named Ted are weirdos, United. We'll stick to JetBlue, since all they do is give our personal information to defense contractors, but at least they do offer cable.




Pray for Frances Bean. Harpy Courtney Love brought roses to court Thursday, offering a "not guily" plea to drug possession charges. Love, dressed up for court in a baggy purple T-shirt, also urged women not to date married men. She then began to sweat profusely, convulse violently, foam at the mouth, and vomit all over the judge. Alright that last sentence was made up, but so was that plea, right? The Black Table urges those in death pools to pay a premium for Courtney Love.



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