ONE LAW FITS ALL

Skinny models have called the shots in Argentina for too long, say officials in a Buenos Aires province who have recently passed a “law of sizes.” This stipulates that fashion retailers must stock a full range of clothing sizes for women. The law has been passed, says the New Statesman, “to break the fashion ‘tyranny’ imposed by designers and manufacturers, which practically forces women to starve themselves to fit into their microscopic clothing.” Gabriella Ancha, 19, blames the “sick beauty industry we have in our country” for the anorexia that blighted her earlier teenage years because it was difficult to find anything in the stores that fitted her. But the industry is fighting to overturn the new restrictions. “The fashion designers have too much money and too much sway to make this law really successful,” says Dr. Mabel Bello, founder of the capital’s biggest anorexia and bulimia clinic.

Digging Wells, Graves

Global starvation is clearly in view if millions of the world’s farmers continue to extract their water from underground wells, in the view of New Scientist magazine. In India already, the water is running out due to 21 million farmers using electric pumps to plumb depths as deep as a quarter of a mile. It takes 3,000 liters of water to produce a single liter of milk, the mag explains; double that amount to grow one kilo of rice and 50 cups of water to produce a teaspoon full of sugar for your coffee.

‘Just a Monk’

“Some say I am a good person, some say I am a charlatan – I am just a monk,” says the Dali Lama. “I never asked Richard Gere to come, but it is foolish to stop them. I have Tibetans, Indians, backpackers, AIDS patients, religious people, politicians, actors and princesses. My attitude is to give everyone some of my time. If I can contribute in any way to their happiness, that makes me happy.”

Copyright Jungle

One of the world’s most recorded songs, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” has generated more than $15 million since it was written by Solomon Linda, a Zulu herdsman, in 1939. “But (Disney) is using his music in The Lion King, which is playing to full houses all over the world,” says Owen Dean, “while Linda’s daughters work as domestic servants, live in shacks and struggle to feed their families.” Dr. Dean, who represents the sisters in a copyright infringements suit against Disney, has obtained a court order allowing him to attach all of that company’s trademarks in South Africa. “So far as we’re concerned,” he adds, “this is illegal and profoundly unfair, and so we’re detaining Mickey, Donald and all the others until proper justice is done.”

All-mail Voting

Oregon switched to all-mail voting a few years ago and a poll by the state university reported that 81% of voters preferred the new system. Ballots are put into two envelopes with the signature on the outer one compared with the voter’s signature already on file. “Voting by mail is nothing more than an absentee vote sent to everyone,” comments The American Prospect in a 10-page survey reporting that both parties were satisfied with the new system, which had increased turnout and avoided the “scary stories of botched balloting…fears of vote fraud, corrupt machines, crooked software and not enough accountability” that other states had endured. Postage and supplies, the major expense, were minor compared to the cost of buying machines, training workers and maintaining polling places. “And there has never been a whiff of any scandal,” the mag notes.

Ad Product Replacement

They’ve upgraded ad product placement – the insertion of real brand name products into TV sitcom plots – or, to be more accurate, they’ve dignified the sneaky process by calling it “branded entertainment.” Columnist Marianne Paskowski writes in TelevisionWeek that the impetus “is to discover how to circumvent the growing popularity of digital recorders with which viewers can zap through commercials.”

Booming Bulgaria

Bulgaria is being touted as “the new Tuscany or Provence,” according to the Christian Science Monitor, which says that as the older inhabitants die off (the younger ones having left) country cottages are on the market for as little as $5,000. “Many villages are abandoned until ‘discovered’ by Westerners who relish tranquility at rock-bottom costs,” says the magazine. This happy situation will only last until January, the paper says, when Bulgaria’s entry into the European Union is expected to send prices soaring.

Moving Towards Target

In addition to sponsoring the best commercials on television – as part of a larger marketing plan – Target has been aiming at a slightly higher audience than Wal-Mart and thus causing a few worries for the world’s biggest retailer. Now Wal-Mart is going to have to compete with Target, reports DSN Retailing Today – and do so on Target’s own terms. “It’s the sincerest form of flattery when the world’s largest retailing company thinks they have to copy something you’re doing,” says trade consultant Neil Stern. “[Target] always stays one step ahead and there’s seemingly no shortage of ideas.”

The Wilcock Web

Two years after the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and Ellen G. Laundau, an expert on the works of Jackson Pollock, disagreed on the validity of 32 of the late artist’s works, the dispute about their authenticity is still ongoing…. The island home off Miami Beach for which Al Capone paid $40,000 in 1928, just sold for $6.8 million…. “Good judgment comes from experience,” said author A. A. Milne, “and experience – well that comes from poor judgment”…. The flamboyant boss of London’s Harrods is said to have announced that he plans to be mummified when he dies and installed as the hour hand on a gigantic clock atop the department store’s roof…. Instead of “I Saw the Pope” (el Papa), a Miami tee shirt maker imprinted his wares with “la papa” (I saw the potato)…. Fidel Castro is so paranoid about the threat of assassination, says The Week, that he has his underwear burnt rather than send it to the laundry where it could be contaminated with chemicals…. “Polyester is a fabulous fabric. It has characteristics of elasticity, fit and non-crease that are fantastic,” said Giorgio Armani in an interview with the Wall Street Journal…. Visitors to the new Eco-Shark center at Playas del Coco on Costa Rica’s Gold Coast are invited to swim in a tank full of sharks that one of the Center’s guides describes as “a fairly placid lot”…. The hippopotamus population around Kenya’s Lake Navasha has slumped 25% in the past two years because so much water has been drained off to irrigate surrounding flower and vegetable farms to satisfy Europe’s growing demand for cheap flowers…. “The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves,” said William Hazlitt (1778-1830)