Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Do Unto Others 

August 31 (AP) - As the residents of New Orleans reeled from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, governments around the globe, moved by their plight, rushed to provide relief assistance. Many of these nations themselves had recently experienced great suffering and remembered the US government's acts of kindness towards them.

First to rush aid to the scene was Sri Lanka, devastated last year by a tsunami. "We vividly recall President Bush's stirring words while vacationing in Crawford," said Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. "More than that, we remember how he put the resources of the richest country in history at our disposal to help us get back on our feet, and we wanted to return the favor, in our own humble way. Of course a per capita aid contribution of 10 cents would be the equivalent of a day's wages at one of our textile sweatshops, so we could not afford to be that generous. So we started thinking of in-kind donations. At first we were going to give a container ship of disposable sunglasses, but then we were reminded how Bush wound up digging really deep to help us. So we're sending flip-flops instead."

The aid proposal has its critics, who say that, because they manufacture millions of flip-flops yearly, they barely cost Sri Lankans anything at all. To them, President Kumaratunga says, "Hey, they dry out quickly and protect your feet while wading. Besides, these puppies would cost them $5.98 at Wal-Mart."

Kumaratunga adds that more aid may be forthcoming. "If we're browbeaten into it, we may wind up sending each New Orleans resident their own colorful beach ensemble."

Other countries are also doing their part. The French have perhaps the most imaginative idea: they are sending the gift of laughter. "We recall how, when Parisians were dying from a record-breaking heat wave, pundits in your country wrote humorous editorials making fun of them," said President Jacques Chirac. "This really helped put our suffering in perspective. As a people with a profound respect for the works of Jerry Lewis, we know the cleansing power of making fun of ourselves, and we know Americans do too. So we're sending our best French comics--both of them--to provide, how you say, comic relief, no?"

President Chirac then ad libbed his own bit: "Eet ees wet in New Orleans. How wet ees eet? Eet's so wet, the Superdome ees now sponsored by Lipton Cup o' Soup! Honh! Honh! Honh!"

But the most touching outpouring of assistance came from beleaguered Iraq, whose interim government pledged to help provide security assistance, since the US National Guard, which normally fulfills the security role, is committed elsewhere, leaving looters to run rampant through the streets of New Orleans.

An Iraqi spokesperson who spoke under promise of strict anonymity from an undisclosed, heavily fortified compound somewhere in the Middle East, clarified that Iraqi security would not actually try to stop the looters, but instead would focus solely on safeguarding the highest priority installations: oil refineries. "Freedom, it is, how you say, untidy, yes?" he said with a shrug. "Free people, they free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They also free to liff their lives and do wonderful things, and that's what's going to happen here."

He went on to add, however, that Iraqi security forces are authorized to detain and torture any New Orleans resident for any reason whatsoever. Torture practices will include urinating on the Bible and taunting prisoners with "whose God is bigger now, you son of a pig?"

Sexual humiliation, however, has been ruled out. "We were told on good authority that stripping prisoners naked, putting dog collars on them, and taking photos is considered a 'good time' in your country," he said.

"Who knew?"

corrente SBL - New Location
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The Washington Chestnut
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