Quoted in the Wichita Eagle, Kansas Gov. Bill Graves said, "This is a terrible, tragic, embarrassing solution to a problem that did not exist." What is?
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Wednesday's Question (No. 288)--"Futurific":
Wal-Mart's present is rosy, with second quarter sales up 15 percent and profits up 21 percent to $1.25 billion. And its future is even better. Marketing consultant Burt Flickinger sees something coming that is "the best possible thing that can happen to Wal-Mart and the worst thing that could happen to every major competitor." What?
"September has been declared 'Celebrate Sweatshops Month.' "--Evan Cornog
"Wal-Mart's coup in being named 'Gun Supplier of Choice' by both the Crips and the Bloods."--Floyd "My News Quiz Responses Cost Way Less To Make Than The Blair Witch Project" Elliot
"Les Moonves has been named president and CEO of every major competitor."--Larry Amoros
"It will be featured prominently in Episode 2, as the place Obi-Wan takes Anakin to get his first cheap, nonunion light-saber."--Matt Sullivan
"And good afternoon to you, too, President Reagan. Can you point me to housewares?"--Ed Foley
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To News Quiz participants, Wal-Mart means sweatshop labor and easily available guns, but it's so much more. It's censored music. And censored videos. And denying women emergency contraception. For years the store has declined to sell "stickered music," i.e., pop songs whose lyrics are too saucy for your mall. Wal-Mart still won't stock "adult videos," although it no longer carries its own store editions of mainstream hits with the naughty bits edited out, as it was once rumored to do. America's biggest gun retailer, the chain will not fill prescriptions for the morning-after pill Preven. I'm no reproductive rights attorney, but if this isn't overtly promoting infanticide as a form of population control, it's coming awfully close. Crawl, little baby! Crawl for your life!
You Can't Find a Cheaper Answer
"A consumer downturn is the best possible thing that can happen to Wal-Mart," says the sanguine Mr. Flickinger.
The competitive advantage the world's largest retailer enjoys over its rivals in a robust economy would be even greater during hard times, when those puny competitors would be battered by economic gales, which to the mighty chain are but gentle zephyrs, Flickinger breezily implied.
"Even if the consumer environment does slow down, we still think Wal-Mart is extremely well positioned," said Jeff Feiner, a retail analyst with Lehman Brothers. "In fact, if a meteor crashed into the Earth, sentencing everyone on the planet to a slow and hideous death, I'd expect Wal-Mart to do swell," he did not add.
Riotous Assembly Extra
Can you name the mob that fomented each of these recent riots around the world?
1. Indonesia. "Streets have been blocked by the mobs. No one has dared go out, even to buy basic needs in the nearest market," said an unnamed civil servant from Maluku province.
2. Nairobi. Speaking from his hospital bed, Mr. Miricho, who is the chairman of Gakoe and Mung'aria factories, said the mob of more than 100 people stormed his house, baying for his blood. "They said they wanted my head because I had blocked their move to split the 18,000-member society."
3. Dar Es Salaam. Thirty people who participated in a riot in the Tanzanian capital were charged with unlawful assembly and procession and malicious damage to property. Rioters threw stones, bottles, and iron pieces at the police while policemen fired tear gas and used pistols, dogs, and horses to disperse the mob.
4. Kosovo. A French soldier was seriously hurt during a melee as a mob of around 150 men tried to charge across the bridge to north Mitrovica as soldiers strung barbed wire across it.
5. Hondo, Texas. Spokesman Larry Fitzgerald says a dozen inmates were hurt in fighting at the Torres medium-security prison unit; two remain hospitalized with stab wounds.
6. Connecticut. "They apparently came to drink and party and have what they thought was a good time. Then the mob mentality took over," said Sgt. Neil Dryfe of the Hartford Police Department.
1. Christians who hate Muslims and vice versa
2. Opponents of the Tetu Coffee Growers Cooperative Society
3. Students who reject school uniforms
4. Ethnic Albanians eager to storm the Serbian part of town
5. Members of the Raza Unida and Mexican Mafia prison gangs
6. Fans of the Dave Matthews Band
The fashion gaffes of the poor.
Chris Kelly will be the guest host for next week's News Quiz, and Tim Carvell will take over the following week, while I am on my listening tour of the jockeys' lounge in Saratoga Springs.--R.C.