Spare the Rod, Spoil the Dictator

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has ordered England to repeal a 142-year-old law that permits parents to spank their children.

The U.N., which has yet to censure Saddam Hussein for the treatment of his own people, apparently believes it more evil to spank children than to kill them with biotoxins and nerve gas.

It Doesn't Ad Up

Former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, now a candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, has been poking fun at his Republican opponent, Mike Fisher, for running an ad in which an actor posed as a cabbie. Rendell has cut an ad featuring actual cabbies.

Gar Joseph of the Philadelphia Daily News phoned one such cabbie. Here's part of the conversation:

"Did the Rendell people ask if you really support him."

"No, they told us what to say."

"Did they pay you?"

"50 dollars."

"Are you actually going to vote for Rendell?"

"I can't. I'm not a citizen yet."

Negotiation Tactics

Tense negotiations this week regarding a labor stoppage in the nation's West Coast ports. Union members boycotted one meeting, after management representatives showed up with bodyguards. Labor then settled the score. Management types showed up Thursday at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union headquarters. The discussions went nowhere, in part because the conversation was interrupted repeatedly by the unmistakable sound of someone passing gas -- emphatically, but unaccompanied by the accustomed scent of hydrogen sulfide. The culprit turned out to be a small box, concealed beneath the table, which produced the sonic booms.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that management boss Joe Miniace broke the tension by saying he was quote: "glad to see them finally moving into the technology area..."