Unimpressive postures on the world stage: Japan prepares to shoot down debris that will rain from the sky as North Korea’s Texan backyard rocket, and the ambitions of Kim Jong Il, disintegrate against the friction of the wind. -- Australia won’t let China get its hands on the Woomera Prohibited Area weapons testing range. Unless, that is, Rio Tinto can buy Chinalco, in which case Woomera’s all yours, Beijing!
State help banks, banks help state: World’s oldest bank gets world’s newest get-out-of-jail-for-free card from Italy. -- Banks reassure Hungary that they will graciously lend to Hungarians, now that the IMF has decided to bail out Hungary (the banks being the usual suspects: Erste, Raiffeisen, Unicredit, and so on).
There are and there are: Among the surge of troops the U.S. is unleashing on Kabul, there will be a surge of civilians. The civilians are there to push the CIA’s understanding beyond Dennis Blair’s gnomic: “There are Taliban and Taliban.” -- Meanwhile, Jesse Jackson helpfully tells the British — worried about knife crime — that “There are children of the light, and there are children in the darkness.” -- Separately, Gordon Brown wants the Royals to marry whomever they choose, even Catholics! “But there are clear issues about the exclusion of people from the rights of succession, and there are clearly issues that have got to be dealt with not just in Britain but right across the Commonwealth,” he explains.
Odd titles: The unofficial holiday prize goes to Serf Emancipation Day, a new holiday China holds to celebrate the enslavement of Tibet. -- The official book prize goes to The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais — “an area that perhaps we are all guilty of ignoring as we push our trolleys down supermarket aisles. What does the future hold for these items? Well, given that fromage frais normally comes in 60-gram containers, not 60-milligram, one would assume that the world outlook for 0.06-gram containers of fromage frais is pretty bleak. But I’m not willing to pay $795 to find out.”