THE DAILY BLADE: April Fools Jokes

Predictably, this year’s Arab League summit – comprised of “the kings, princes and authoritarian presidents of the Middle East and North Africa” once again decried “the alleged ‘double standards’ of the West in enforcing U.N. resolutions or respecting international law,” notes The Washington Post. But there was a mind-boggling twist this time:


[T]here was a call on "the international community to prosecute those responsible" for alleged "war crimes" committed by Israel in its recent offensive in Gaza. Then came an ardent defense of Sudanese dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir - who was welcomed to the Doha summit despite an outstanding arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court on multiple war crimes charges.


U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asked U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan to drop all charges against former AK Sen. Ted Stevens (R), because of credible allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, reports NPR:


Judge Sullivan has repeatedly delayed sentencing and criticized trial prosecutors for what he has called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt. Things got so bad that the Justice Department finally replaced the trial team, including top-ranking officials in the Public Integrity Section, which is charged with prosecuting public corruption cases.


The straw that apparently broke Holder's back was the discovery of more prosecutorial notes that were not turned over to the Stevens defense team as required by law. The notes were discovered by the new prosecution team, which was appointed in February.


While Stevens’ conviction on seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form to conceal $250,000 in gifts will be voided, the results of the election cannot be. NPR observes that it is widely believed Stevens would have won an eighth term had he not been convicted the week before the election – even at that, he lost to Dem Mark Begich by one percentage point.



The Obama administration is “intensely debating” whether to satisfy demands by the ACLU and Congressional Democrats and make public classified Bush administration that current and former CIA officials say “could expose intelligence methods and needlessly offend dedicated counterterrorism officers,” reports The New York Times:


Some officials, including Gregory B. Craig, the White House counsel, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., have argued for disclosing the material as quickly as possible to distance the new administration from the most controversial policies of the Bush years. Mr. Holder and other top officials have condemned the most extreme of the past interrogation techniques, waterboarding, as illegal torture, and they see no reason to hide from public view what they consider the mistakes of their predecessors.


A three-judge panel has ruled that only 400 of the 4,800 absentee ballots that Norm Coleman said had been wrongly rejected were deemed legal to be opened and counted, reports the Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN):


The three-judge panel ordered the ballots delivered to the Secretary of State's Office by April 6 and those deemed legal to be opened and counted April 7 in the Supreme Court room at the Minnesota Judicial Center.


The judges emphasized that fewer than the 400 absentee ballots might be counted if some of them are deemed ineligible upon further examination. "To be clear, not every absentee ballot identified in this order will ultimately be opened and counted," the panel wrote.


So does this mean Al Franken goes from being a court jester to a senator? Perhaps – but not for a long, long, time as Coleman is prepared to appeal to the state Supreme Court, and then to file a federal appeal if necessary.


President Barack Obama met Queen Elizabeth II and presented her with an iPod that was pre-loaded with a video of the first lady’s 30-minute arm-toning routine, complete with the peppy Broadway show tunes that keep MO motivated to go for the burn. Perhaps her expectations lowered by the gift of state presented to PM Gordon Brown, the Queen didn’t exactly go all out either: She gave the Obamas the same signed portrait of herself and Prince Philip that everyone else gets.



Life Imitates “Witness”



Remember that scene in the 1985 Harrison Ford thriller “Witness” when a young Amish boy, Samuel Lapp, sees a Hassidic Jew in a Philly train station and feels a bit more at home in the “English” world? The Associated Press reports that life imitated art when “dozens of Amish … toured a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn's Crown Heights to learn more about their culture”: 


The city's ultra-Orthodox Jews took the Pennsylvania Amish on a walking tour of their world Tuesday, saying their communities are naturally drawn to each other with a commitment to simpler lifestyles. …


The neighborhood is home to an ultra-Orthodox Lubavitcher sect born about 200 years ago in Russia.



Today's Lubavitchers wear the black hats and beards of their 18th-century forebears, speak Yiddish and refrain from turning on electricity or driving cars on the Sabbath. …


As the two groups walked side by side on Brooklyn streets, Crown Heights residents did double-takes; the Amish could be mistaken for Lubavitchers at a quick glance. But their hats are more square and their ruddy complexions from working outdoors contrast with the pale faces of the studious, urban Lubavitchers.


The whipped cream on the latte: One of the Amish tourists is named John Lapp (“John” and “Lapp” being amongst the most common Amish given names and surnames in Lancaster County).



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