Abortion Ruling Seen As Landmark

Johnny Desmond, the nine-week old fetus who captured the world's attention with his pioneering stand for fetal rights, was cut out of his mother's uterus and transferred to a special incubator early this afternoon by two surgeons at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

It was the bittersweet climax to a long but ultimately successful legal struggle waged by the fetus to be granted the right to abort his mother, 19-year old Lori Desmond of Sacramento, California. In the end, the outcome rested on two major decisions: the decision of the Supreme Court to award Johnny the right to choose, and Johnny's subsequent decision to exercise his new right and abort.

Judge Lee, who has become the Supreme Court's unofficial spokesperson with regard to the controversial decision, explained the Supreme Court's reasoning several hours after it was handed down late last night.

"The fetus, Jonathan H. Desmond, had no say in his conception. He was not asked whether he wanted to be conceived, or by whom. He was simply thrust into a situation and given no choice but to accept the circumstances. Our decision was to grant him the power to change those circumstances."

"Furthermore," Lee went on, "Jonathan Desmond had sufficient grounds to argue that his mother, Lorianna Desmond, would be a danger to his person and a detriment to his future. For example, blood tests performed on Lorianna Desmond indicated that she was a habitual smoker of both cigarettes and marijuana, and several witnesses testified that she had consumed alcohol even after she had learned of her pregnancy. In addition, her lack of an education beyond the high school level limited her chances of raising her income beyond what we deemed necessary as the minimal level for supporting a child. Therefore, it is the opinion of this court that rather than be forced to accept these limitations and burdens imposed on his life, Jonathan Desmond be free to seek alternatives."

One reporter, who works for NBC but wished not to be identified by name, described the emotional scene that followed the official announcement of the decision.

"It was haunting and solemn and beautiful," she said, "When the doors slid open and doctors walked out, a hush fell over all of us—the journalists, the protesters, the friends and family. We were all in this together and equally. And when it was announced that Johnny was alive and doing well, we all responded. Several of the people beside me started to cry, and others hugged or exchanged handshakes. Some groups even lit small candles and sang songs, both joyful and melancholy."

And the reactions have not stopped pouring in since. From bloggers to politicians, it seems that everyone in America has an opinion on the abortion of Lori Desmond, and they just have to share it with the public.

Speaking on CNN, Michael Hellman, a former fetus and the current President of the NOF, the National Organization of Fetuses, stated that while he was sorry to hear about Lori Desmond's abortion, he applauded the Supreme Court's decision as well as Johnny Desmond's courage to do what he thought was right. Hellman also warned against misinterpreting the entire issue.

"This decision does not change the fact of abortion. It simply legislates that abortions can be done safely, cleanly and inside a hospital. If you'll recall, two months ago there was a case in Florida where a fetus had aborted its mother by having a rusty nail fed to it through its mother's digestive system while the mother was asleep, and then proceeding to tear, rip and claw itself of out her body. It was gruesome, barbaric and impossible to justify in a country such as the United States. At least now, the mother will be put to death humanely."

He then produced a colourful graph that proved abortions were good.

However, in another CNN interview, aired five minutes later as per the rules of balanced coverage, Lillian Thomas, one of the leaders of the Woman's Right to Live movement, unequivocally condemned the decision.

"Not only did the Supreme Court act with moral repugnance, but, more importantly, I take their decision as a personal slap in the face. I don't think they even gave a thought to how their stupid little decision would affect me and my organization."

When interviewer Wolf Blitzer asked Thomas why she was against the abortion, Thomas went on the offensive.

"As a woman, I feel obliged to take the side of women in every debate on whatever topic. Even if a woman brutally murders her entire family with a pick-axe, I will support her as a strong and independent female rebelling against a repressive patriarchal system. It's what I do. If I didn't, I wouldn't have this job, and would probably have to find real work."

As the news spread, it soon reached even the most remote corners of the country, where it was quickly consumed and put to self-serving use.

"Although I am not a woman or a fetus, do not have any children, am not married, and will not be affected by the Supreme Court's decision in any way," campaigned minor Presidential hopeful Stewart Kennedy in Alaska, "I would just like to say, for the record, that this issue is very close to my heart, and that my campaign supports the rights of fetuses to choose a good life."

"Kennedy in oh-eight is for fetuses great!" he shouted.

There were also reactions from those away from the battle's front lines, but close to its heart.

"I am saddened by this news and wish the Desmond family strength as they cope during this difficult time," said one of the Desmonds' neighbours, the owner of a local lumber yard. "And, to help them heal, the next two hundred customers at Willy's Lumber Yard get 5-10% off!"

Lori Desmond's parents, meanwhile, released a joint statement that confirmed their grief and called the Supreme Court's decision tantamount to murder.

"Our daughter was a living, breathing human being," the statement read, "By granting her fetus the right to abort, the United States legal system has shown itself to be complicit in the murder of one of its citizens. Therefore, when we mourn today, we mourn not only for the life of a daughter who was taken from us, but for the lives of all future aborted mothers, and for the clouded future of our once great country."

Johnny Desmond, who has yet to speak publicly about his decision, is set to make his first public appearance on Larry King Live in January.

Film Prof Plans bin Laden Retrospective

Garry Daniels, a senior film professor from Vancouver's Simon Fraser University, has announced plans for an Osama bin Laden film retrospective that will celebrate the video career of the well-known Saudi terrorist. Although Daniels says his idea has been greeted with only a lukewarm response, he denies his decision to create this retrospective is any way political or motivated by an anti-American bias.

"I don't like politics. I want to stay away from politics," he explained during an interview with a local reporter, "What I want to get closer to, get a better understanding of, are the aesthetic qualities of Osama's videos. His framing, his compositions, his camera angles. The way he plays with depth and creates textures. All those apolitical characteristics of cinema that have been wrongfully politicized."

Daniels says he plans to devote one week to the screenings, and hopes to show the videos in chronological order, in order to better trace bin Laden's evolution as a filmmaker.

"I think most people see Osama, see his videos, and assume he's just some terrorist with a camcorder filming political tracts. What most people don't see is the care and planning that goes into each and every video, and the way that each subsequent video builds on the last."

"Seeing them together," he continued, "really gives you an appreciation for those aspects of Osama's style that change and evolve from video to video, as well as those that remain the same. There truly is an original style being created here."

Daniels claims that the reason most people don't value bin Laden as a filmmaker is that his work has been butchered by the mainstream media. For this, he blames North American and European television stations that show either bits of bin Laden's actual footage, or re-edit the tapes to fit time slots or to show only what they deem the most interesting or provocative parts.

"Imagine seeing Casablanca or Citizen Kane edited down into fifteen minutes," challenges Daniels, "It's unthinkable! Not only would no one have the courage to do it, but the result would barely resemble the films as they were envisioned by Michael Curtiz and Orson Welles. It would be a travesty. And yet this is what happens to Osama, time and time again. What you see on TV is not what Osama intended you to see."

Asked about what he would like his retrospective to accomplish, Daniels said that his immediate goal is nothing more than to introduce a new audience to bin Laden's videos.

"I want people who've never watched an entire Osama short to sit down and watch it. I think they'll be pleasantly surprised. I think they'll enjoy being challenged by it, in terms of style and technique, and will be thrilled at experiencing a new movement in cinema."

In the longterm, however, Daniels said he has more ambitious hopes: to introduce the idea that bin Laden is what in film language is called an auteur, a filmmaker-artist who infuses his works with a personal style and personal world-view that is evident in each and every one of his works.

"I want people to have the knowledge to be able to look back at the history of cinema in fifty years and say, there were the Lumiere brothers, there was D.W. Griffith, there was German Expressionism, Italian Neorealism and the French New Wave, and, then, there was Osama bin Laden. And to be able to see that each of these pivots mark a radical shift or expansion in how we make and perceive films."

Daniels closed his interview by pointing out the case of Leni Riefenstahl, a famous German director who made films for Hitler in Nazi Germany.

"Like with Riefenstahl, I think we can and should separate political affiliation from cinematic accomplishment. I hope that Osama will eventually be judged fairly as a filmmaker, in separation from his identity as a terrorist, or freedom fighter, or what have you."

The retrospective is tentatively scheduled for May of next year in Vancouver. And a website, promised Daniels, will be online shortly.

Dream Team Riots During African Charity Tournament

A U.S. basketball "dream tream", made up of some of the NBA's most well-known stars, turned violent and rioted yesterday, during the third game of a charity basketball tournament meant to raise money and awareness for African children orphaned by war.

Both the game, which was suspended early in the first half, and the tournament, which was being held in the Niger capital of Niamey, have since been abandoned. The U.S. team, whose members injured at least two dozen fans, including three orphans, before being subdued by police, is set to return to the United States early tomorrow morning.

There has, of yet, been no official comment about the incident issued by USA Basketball or any of the players or their agents. The only records of the event, in fact, are a single photograph snapped by Jim White, a Reuters photographer who was at the game, and a series of interviews with a number of Team USA players conducted by a Niger radio station immediately after the violence had been brought to an end.

"It was an incredible scene," White later told local reporters, "The Americans were up twenty-three points, and one of their players had just been fouled very cynically by a Niger defender. But after making his first free throw, the American player suddenly put the ball down and pointed to a woman in the crowd who was holding up a rather large sign in support of her national team. When the referee refused to stop play despite the player's protest, the player walked off the court and conferred with his teammates. Then, after about thirty seconds, all the players suddenly broke their huddle with a sort of primeval scream and went berserk. I'd never seen anything quite like it."

White said he managed to take only one photo, that of the offending sign, before one of the players ripped his camera from his hands and smashed it against the face of one of the fans next standing next to him. He said he was lucky his flash memory survived the impact.

The radio interviews, on the other hand, show another story: an angered American team fed up with what they perceived as ongoing racist abuse and cultural disrespect.

"I seen them signs when we come in but I didn't say nuthin' about 'em," tells one player on the audio tape, before being suddenly outshouted by another and then cut off by several gunshots.

When the audio resumes, a third voice is already in the midst of talking.

"Our ancestors didn't come to Africa on the Mayflower two hundred years ago for us to be disrespected and abused like this. These ignorant, disrespectin' haters are just uneducated and have no respect. No respect for us, and no respect for black culture."

The voice then goes on to criticize the Africans for their choice of music and their style of dressing.

"They're so goddamn ghetto, man. Comin' over here, I seen these half-naked fuckers dancing around listening to fuckin' jungle music and dressed in like feathers and animal teeth and shit. I mean, what the fuck is up with that? Ain't these motherfuckers never heard of fucking Fiddy or Ghostface Killah. Get some decent beats. And, goddammn, wear some gold, niggah, some fuckin' gold. Not this fuckin' grass and leaves shit."

Although there is no way to be sure, the comments are probably directed at the festival of African history and culture that the NBA players attended before tipping-off their game against the host nation.

At times, there are as many as four players speaking and screaming into the tape recorder at once, which makes understanding them difficult, if not impossible.

"They're just a bunch of ignorant ass fools," a voice in the background can be heard saying at one point, trying to calm his teammates, "Plain ignorance, man, plain ignorance. Just forget it. Forget it."

While, over top, another criticizes the Africans for propagating black stereotypes.

"It's 'cause of niggas like these that white people hate us, man. Look at all this poverty. Man, I was poor, too, I ain't come from much. But at least I worked hard at my game and went to college and don't have a fuckin' tin can for a roof. I got too much self-respect to live like that. And my neighbourhood was rougher than this place, man. Ain't no gangs here. Why these fools so poor?"

But the tone of the tape isn't entirely critical. At one point, a sympathetic player offers the Africans some advice.

"Clean yourselves up and don't go around being so diseased," the voice advises, "And get a decent ride. How you gonna get a bit-tittied blonde hunny if you don't got a sweet ride with nice rims?"

Although it will be interesting to see how much fallout there will be because of the incident, at least one positive is already coming to light. MTV will soon be sending several film crews to war-torn parts of Africa to shoot episodes of a new TV series called Pimp My Starving Village.

"Emaciated black people are hot right now," explained one of the series' producers, "ever since Darfur and that genocide movie with Don Cheadle. Plus, they're already kind of used to be exploited."

MLS to Introduce New "Beckham Area" Next Season

"Players of David Beckham's quality have to be protected," said MLS commissioner Don Garber after witnessing the world's most well-known footballer make his American soccer debut on Saturday, "even if it means giving them their own, rather large area of the field to play in."

Although the rules regarding this new area, tentatively dubbed the Beckham Area, have not yet been finalized, the general concept is straightforward:

Only David Beckham will be allowed to enter the area. Once inside, he will have free reign and unlimited time to make the perfect pass or take the perfect shot. If, for any reason, an opposing player encroaches, play will be stopped and Beckham will restart the match with a direct free kick from anywhere inside the area. If, on the other hand, one of Beckham's teammates accidentally wanders in, the opposition will be rewarded with a throw-in at a spot perpendicular to the violation on the side of the field closest to the infraction. In theory, Beckham will be able to leave the area at any time; however, he is expected to do so only when taking corners or missing spot kicks.

Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas said that while the MLS was reluctant to accept his proposal for the Beckham Area, seeing their most-expensive player tackled to the ground in the friendly against Chelsea changed their minds.

"I don't think they realize soccer players go to ground every time they're touched, and then roll around like they're been beaten by the cops until the ref blows his whistle or someone plays the ball out. But, hell, it's not my business to tell them. When the boys upstairs saw David trying to win the free kick by feigning injury, they thought he'd broken his ankle, panicked, and immediately agreed to fast track the proposal."

Lalas then changed tack, arguing that giving Beckham so much free space to operate in would be good news for the the fans and the game itself, and not just for the league's pocketbooks.

"Let's be honest. David's never been a great dribbler, especially quick, or any good at defending. And now that he's getting older, his attributes will only decrease. For example, no matter what training schedule I put him on, how many coaches I hire, or how many times I load and reload my L.A. Galaxy save game in Football Manager, by 2009, David's always left off the main squad when I let my Assistant Manager auto-pick the starters. His morale then goes down, he repeatedly requests a free transfer, and, when given one, finds that no club wants him and quits his playing career in order to pursue a manager position in Malta or Lichtenstein."

Although Lalas declined to answer any questions, he did point out that the Beckham Area will make it unnecessary to ever substitute the England international.

"If David ever feels tired or wants a breather, he can sit down in his area for a little while—maybe have a smoke, or listen to his iPod—until he feels he's ready to get up and play again."

The Beckham Area will also not go to waste in soccer games not involving the Galaxy, as the league's commissioner has plans to expand the area into a unique aspect of the American soccer experience.

"During games in which David's not taking part, the Beckham Area will be used to entertain the fans," explained Garber, "Rock concerts, stand-up comedians, professional wrestling, that sort of thing. Events that will bring people into the stadiums and keep them occupied while the game's going on. Think of it like a halftime show, except that it goes on straight from the kick-off until the final whistle."

Garber then added that the MLS was even in talks with several major movie studios about possibly erecting a movie screen in each Beckham Area and screening newly-released movies.

"We could fit most movies into 90 minutes plus halftime, and it would all have a sort-of drive-in feel to it. But we're leaning more toward live entertainment, at the moment."

After Sunday's game, Beckham spoke to enthusiastic journalists about his first brush with American soccer.

"It's a bit shit, though, isn't it?" said the former Real Madrid man.

"I don't deny knowing Major League Soccer was a bit of a muppet league, but no one told me I'd have to play with Abel Xavier."

Added Beckham, "He looks like a Yeti, and plays like Ivan Campo."

When questioned about the Beckham Area, "Becks" said he was pleased with the idea, and hoped it would eventually be implemented.

"Even though I feel that I'm just one player and an equal among my teammates, I'm clearly a much better footballer than anyone else in the league and deserve special treatment. I'm confident I'll be able to concentrate much more easily on football when I'm not worried that Landon Donovan will accidentally breath on me."

Donovan, who is expected to give up his captaincy to the more famous Beckham, responded to his soon-to-be successor's comment by summing up Beckham's entire move to Los Angeles.

"It's the MLS. Who gives a fuck?"

"If You're Happy And You Know It" Draws Ire of Child Psychologist

"Some children are not happy, and others don't want to show it," writes Wilhelm Friedel, in an article attacking the famous nursery rhyme set to be published in the August issue of The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

The Yale University professor, who is in the process of writing a book about the history of parenting, says he was compelled to research the rhyme after memories from his own childhood were stirred up when he tried to perform the song with his grandson.

"I opened up a book of songs for children that my wife had purchased, and when I saw the words to If You're Happy and You Know It my longterm memory suddenly came to life, and I found myself remembering experiences from my youth that I hadn't thought about in ages. Several days later, I decided to start research on the effects that rhymes such as this one had on emotionally developing children. It was only when I found the effects so far-reaching and serious that I decided to publish my findings."

Among the aspects of the rhyme criticized in Friedel's article is the notion that smiling is a natural consequence of being happy.

"This is simply not true," Friedel writes, "If you're happy, your face does not have to surely show it. Happiness is absolutely possible without smiling. Requiring that a child smile if he or she is happy is akin to requiring someone to ring a bell when they're hungry. It can indicate the assumed feeling, but it does not have to. Not to say anything about the relationship between happiness and clapping one's hands or stomping one's feet."

"Still," continues Friedel, "it is the inverse assumption about smiling that is the more dangerous: that a smile indicates happiness."

"Smiling is a learned behaviour. If a child makes the observation that when he or she smiles he or she extracts a more favourable disposition from a parent or guardian, then it is likely he or she will continue to smile, even if he or she is not truly feeling happy. This is what I have termed the smiling fallacy."

Friedel later points out that even the underlying basis for the popular song, that children recognize when they're experiencing happiness, or any other emotion, is fundamentally flawed.

"I'm 57 and I still have trouble recognizing and sorting my emotions," he writes, "To assume that a child, therefore, would succeed in doing this on a regular basis is absurd. Emotions are often tangled and unclear. Happiness does not exist in a vacuum."

The primary question being asked by the nursery rhyme, worries Friedel, is likewise simplistic and unclear.

"It's a vague question: are you happy? Is the hand-clapping and feet-stomping meant to indicate happiness at a particular moment, within the last few days, or a general sense of happiness accumulated throughout one's lifetime? If it is the latter, for example, one could theoretically clap one's hands even while feeling sad, if one had led an otherwise happy life up to that point."

Speculating on the reason for the popularity of If You're Happy And You Know It, Friedel states that the nursery rhyme most likely became popular in schools and among parents because it reinforces beliefs about being kind and caring.

"If we love our children, we want them to be happy. This is natural. But, because happiness is difficult for us to measure, we have resorted to a simple solution: let our children tell us if they're happy—while stacking the odds heavily in our favour. That we're actually deceiving ourselves by pressuring our children into answering in the positive has escaped us for the understandable reason that we enjoy our children showing us that they are, indeed, happy. It confirms us in the desired role as the good parent."

Friedel says he based his conclusion on the observation that when one of a group of children participating in the singing of the nursery rhyme refrains from demonstrating his or her happiness, adults seldom take notice.

"If we were actually concerned with our children's emotional well-being, we would surely use the few potential benefits from a rhyme like If You're Happy And You Know It. And yet, we don't. Instead of speaking to the non-participating child and attempting to discover a potential emotional problem, we simply encourage the child to clap his or her hands along with the others. In essence, we are teaching this child to hide his or her feelings if they do not conform to the feelings of others."

Although Friedel's article, which the researcher says is only a preliminary glance at an important topic, is a sustained critcism of the nursery rhyme and its uses, Friedel does offer an alternative. In a short paragraph near the end of his article, Friedel suggests a way in which to allow children to express themselves artistically without the pressure that is implicit in rhymes like If You're Happy And You Know It.

"Most important is not to force a specific emotion from your child," writes Friedel, "Hence, do not ask your child if he or she is happy; rather, ask your child what he or she feels, and let them explore why. Then, suggest that your child sing a song or draw a picture about those feelings. This gives your child freedom of emotion and freedom of expression. And remember, do not scold your child for expressing how he or she feels, unless the expression displays racist, sexist, or otherwise prejudiced thoughts. If this happens, then explain to your child why their feelings are wrong, and encourage them to try again."

Friedel finishes his piece with a simple declaration of hope that damaging nursery rhymes will eventually be phased out of both education and parenting.

"Songs like If You're Happy And You Know It are deceptive to adults and damaging to children," concludes Friedel, "As a society, we would do well to outgrow them all."

RIAA Sues 11-Year Old For Not Buying Latest Hilary Duff Album

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced yesterday that it intends to sue an 11-year old Massachusetts girl for not buying Hilary Duff's newest album, Dignity.

Lindsay Gale, the person singled out by the RIAA, says that while she doesn't know what the RIAA is, her mom told her the accusations are serious. Holding back tears, she tried to defend her actions and explain why she didn't buy the album, in a yet to be aired TV interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

"I got the last Hilary Duff CD," Gale sobbed, "but I didn't really like it. I mean I still have it. It's not like I gave it to my friend or anything. But when I heard some songs from this new one on the radio they were even worse than the songs on that one. So I didn't buy it. I'm so sorry. I'll never not buy anything again. I swear. Please don't send me to jail or take mommy's house away."

She then gave in to her emotions and buried her tear-streamed face in her hands as Cooper cleared his throat and asked her to cry only once she had answered all of his questions.

The RIAA, however, warns against what it calls such "little girl" tactics.

"It's all a clever ploy on her behalf to appear the victim here, when, in fact, the victim is another young girl, whose below-expected album sales have also taken a significant toll on her emotions. But the media won't show you Hilary Duff crying on the couch in her high-rise Manhattan apartment. No, they'll only show you Lindsay Gale. It's an unfortunate bias."

Although Hilary Duff could not be reached for confirmation of her feelings, her website, usually colourful and full of semi-nude pictures of the teen star, was, today, replaced by a single black page with the following message to fans:

"Hilary Duff thanks you for your support at this difficult time. She will be releasing an album based on this heartbreak early next year to tell her side of the story. Pre-order on Amazon starting tomorrow."

Her record label, Hollywood Records, did, however, send a spokesperson to meet with fans and media in New York later in the day. When Lindsay Gale's name came up during this meeting, the spokesperson, who did not give her name, made clear the record label's legal position.

"When our analysts prepare fiscal expectations for a given quarter, they follow a certain system," she explained, "For each album, we devise a very precise target demographic and market aggressively and almost exclusively to that demographic. We then assume that every person who falls within that demographic will buy the album, and use that assumption to calculate profit. If, for some reason, our actual earnings do not match with our estimate, we announce a loss. Even if we still make a profit."

This applies to Lindsay Gale, the spokesperson went on, because Gale was in the demographic designed for the Duff album.

"Gale fit all of our criteria. She was the right age, wasn't doing very well in school, was easily swayed by peer pressure, watched over four hours of television a day, and had purchased all of Duff's older records. She was what we call a sure thing in the music business."

Except, in this case, Gale proved elusive. For reasons Hollywood Records says it cannot understand, Gale never made the purchase.

"When Gale decided not to buy the Duff record, she was, quite simply, committing theft," said the spokesperson, "I don't know how much clearer I can be. Our board, our investors assumed she would spend her $22.95 on Dignity. All of our expensive research pointed to it. And when she didn't give us her mother's money, she, in effect, reached into our pockets, and into the pockets of all the people who work for us and all of the artists who are signed to us, and took out a substantial amount of revenue. It was a childish, selfish, illegal thing to do. How are we supposed to do business if people don't all act in a way we can predict and take advantage of?"

"Lindsay Gale is a criminal and probably uses drugs and supports terrorism," the spokesperson concluded, to raptures of applause.

But, not everyone shares the view of Hollywood Records. First to step into the ring on the side of the beleaguered 11-year old was Susan Grey, writer with The New York Times and long time defender of the little man. The day after Hollywood Records publicly denounced Gale as a criminal, the Times published a long editorial by Grey on its front page.

"I would never blame an 11-year old for what's happened," wrote Grey in her piece, "No, I think that the full responsibility for this crime rests on the shoulders of Lindsay Gale's mother. I know that when my daughter didn't want to buy a Lindsay Lohan CD a few years ago, I bought it for her anyway, even though I was sure she wouldn't listen to it. But I sat her down, subtracted $19.95 from her allowance, and I told her that this is her new CD and that she can do what she wants with it. As long as she doesn't make a backup copy for herself, share it on the Internet, or give it to a friend. In the end, it's all about setting examples and being responsible. It's common sense and a respect for the common good. By allowing Lindsay to not buy Dignity, Mrs. Gale has displayed anarchic tendencies that are at odds with the very spirit and moral fibre of our great country."

Grey went on to write that while one album sale is not a major offense in itself, if left unchecked it can lead to more serious non-purchases.

"First it's a CD, then it's a movie ticket, then it's a Playstation 2. And, before you know it, you find yourself suddenly having to spend more time talking with your child. Or having to wait in the car while they browse books in the library. It's one album sale, sure, but it's a gateway sale."

The issue of Gale and the unbought album even reached as far as Washington, when a young reporter brought it up during the daily White House briefing to loud jeers on the part of the more-established press. Although the Administration refused to take sides on the issue, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow did hint at the government's position.

"Look, if we're going to be honest with each other, then let's rely on the facts and not throw around opinions. Science has proven that children are especially susceptible to what they see and hear. Young minds are like vessels waiting to be filled. And the more they're filled with songs like Stranger or Play With Fire, the less room there is left for the Islamic extremists to target and exploit."

He added, "Think of pop music as a condom you can pull over your child's mind to prevent it from becoming addled with the diseases one finds in books, which pass from dirty hand to dirty hand, carrying the germs of ideas just waiting to enter nubile young minds. In pop music, there are no germs, no ideas. Pop music is pure."

When asked if he had any advice for patriotic parents who believed their children may only be pretending to listen to pop music, while secretly reading books or discussing current events with their friends, Snow told parents to be ever vigilant and set a good example.

"Try not to leave books lying around the house, and try not to raise serious issues at the dinner table if your children are present. With boys, you might want to enroll them in sports that have a high risk of head injury, such as boxing or football. With girls, letting your daughter stay out late with boys can often be a viable solution, as a teen pregnancy will drastically cut down the time your daughter can spend on reading, education, and constructing bombs."

Snow concluded by comparing Lindsay Gale to a young Palestinian suicide bomber exploding herself in a crowded Israeli market.

"Although these children may have been manipulated by malicious adults, they remain a very, very dangerous threat and will be dealt with accordingly. In a perfect world, we would like to save all of them. But we don't live in a perfect world, and reality dictates that sometimes we have to make tough choices. Some children are simply too far gone to save."

Prodded by reporters if he was making a specific reference to Lindsay Gale, Snow said, "As I stated earlier, the White House has no official position on this matter."

It still remains to be seen whether the RIAA will be able to make anything of its case against the 11-year old once both sides go before a judge, but one thing is certain. The trial has already taken place in the court of the public mind; and, there, little Lindsay Gale has been judged guilty.

For, as the graffiti freshly painted on Mrs. Gale's garage door plainly sums up, the American public, thoroughly inundated with RIAA propaganda, believes in justice above all:

"Hang the thievin cunt," the drying paint says.

Argentine Judge Dismisses "Rio Plata Rodney King" Case

Violence rocked an Argentine courtroom yesterday, after the judge presiding over what has become known in Argentina as the "Rio Plata Rodney King" case unexpectedly dismissed charges against two Buenos Aires police officers accused of beating a homeless man, ruling that the main piece of evidence in the trial, a videotape of the beating, proved clearly in favour of the defendants.

"The judge just stood up, banged his gavel and declared the case over," reported an anonymous witness who was inside the courtroom at the time, "and when they heard the judge say that, the victim's family and friends began to riot, throwing chairs and storming the bench. When they saw what was happening, the opposing supporters stormed down out of their seats to meet them and they started fighting. The bailiffs had to step in to protect the judge, who was in the middle of it. But I still saw him take a few punches to the stomach."

The riot was quickly brought under control by police who were waiting outside the building and no one was seriously injured, but the violence proved that the case has turned into an hot national issue in Argentina, where it has been brewing ever since the video of the beating was leaked onto the Internet last Thursday. To many Argentines, it has become a symbol of what they believe is a recent surge of police brutality against the country's poor, orchestrated by the government in order to win middle class votes. And this dismissal is unlikely to change that.

Still, public opinion remains rather evenly split on the matter, with 47% of those polled by this newspaper saying they agreed with the judge's decision and 45% responding that they thought the decision incorrect and possibly corrupt.

The judge, a veteran of the court system and well-respected among his peers, has declined to speak to the press, but did issue a statement following his evacuation from the courtroom.

"I made my decision to dismiss after the tape was replayed in slow motion," he said," When I had seen the event at normal speed twice previously, I agreed that there was excessive violence on behalf of the two defendants. However, upon watching the tape more closely, I noticed that the amount of physical contact seemed to have been exaggerated. When I requested that the tape be slowed down, I decided that I had been fooled and that any contact made by the defendants on the body of the plaintiff was incidental. It was a clear dive by Mr. Padilla."

Eduardo Padilla, the homeless man whose case rested on the video accidentally captured on tape by a tourist filming the Buenos Aires nightlife, repeated his own story to reporters later in the day, and pleaded with the public to step in in his defense.

According to Padilla, whose story has remained consistent throughout the trial, he was scavenging in a downtown alleyway attempting to find shelter for the night when a group of five or six off-duty policemen accosted and begin taunting him.

"I ignored them until one of the cops took out his baton and started waving it around like he wanted to hit me. That's when one of them grabbed me, and I could see they were about to put a beating to me. They were smiling and drunk, so I decided I had to take my chance and make a run for it before they did something."

Padilla claims he slipped out of the officer's grasp, and set off down the right flank of the alley, evading about four or five tackles, and eventually making it onto the street, where he believed he would be safe.

"But they kept after me. They didn't stop or care that people could see. They're protected, they can do what they want."

Padilla says the chase continued for several minutes, and that he was almost in the clear when a last gasp tackle by one of the officers sent him sprawling just outside the Eighteen Yard Box, the sports bar the tourist happened to be filming.

"The cop caught me right in the knee. And when they had me on the ground, that's when they started on me with their kicking and their punching and their batons."

The police officers, meanwhile, contradict Padilla's account, claiming that while they did come across the homeless man in the alley, they did not taunt him and only pursued when he fled because he was armed with a knife that he repeatedly refused to give up.

"There was never any unjustified beating," testified one of the two accused officers, Sgt. Javier Lopez, "The video clearly shows [Padilla] clutching his face as if in agony when, at that point, if any contact had been made, it was minimal and to his midsection. He was blatantly playacting and attempting to influence the judge's decision."

Unfortunately, the issue of Argentina's Rodney King is unlikely to be settled by facts and by who is right and wrong. Already, politicians are redrawing their battle lines around the issue, with those leaning to the left coming out in support of Padilla and those to the right defending the police. In the end, it may simply come down to who manages to extend the issue the farthest, make the most sensational statements, and yell the loudest.

Padilla has already begun.

"They will kill me," he screamed as police moved him from a police cruiser to a temporary holding facility this morning, "Look at me. I am a martyr. I am the first martyr. But if you do not stop the fascist swine I will not be the last."