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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Global Eye

Disturbing Reflections

From the smoking ruins of Hitler's Third Reich to the slightly rusty lustre of Helmut Kohl's united k?nigdom, a single journal has flayed more government hide and exposed more establishment backside than perhaps any other in the history of Europe. But when Der Spiegel -- which has held a caustic mirror up to German nature for many decades now -- celebrated its 50th anniversary last week, the weekly found itself on the receiving end of scandalous charges: that it had once used two former Nazi SS officers in top editorial positions.

One would think such a charge against the magazine -- founded in 1947 by 23-year-old Rudolf Augstein as "the assault gun of democracy," devoted to rooting out any rearings of resurgent fascism -- might dampen its celebration. But Augstein, still at the editorial helm, simply shrugged off the charges. He never knew while the two men worked there that they had been SS officers, he said; like many, they'd kept their pasts hidden. He went on to note that the Allies, and the first post-occupation German governments, employed scores of well-known, most dubiously "ex" Nazis in important government, judicial and commercial posts.

One of those governments jailed Augstein for 103 days in 1962 for exposing problems in the German military -- an affair which ended not with the editor's conviction but in the sacking of a powerful defense minister, and which set the tone for Der Spiegel's uncozy relationship with subsequent Bonn bigs. Current Chancellor Kohl, for example, cannot bring himself to speak the name of the magazine -- or even acknowledge the fact that it is a magazine -- instead referring to it, when he has to, as "that certain print product."

Beggar's Banquet

We all like to see our leaders stand tall, stand tough against mighty foes. One thinks of Churchill, defiant in the face of Nazi hordes; or young Kennedy, staring down Khrushchev in Cuba with Armageddon on the line; or Rabin, bold in war and even bolder in peace, taking on the accumulated hatreds of centuries. Now to this roll of honor we must add the august names of Major and Blair, who this week sought to prove which of them stood tallest and toughest against that most fearful and powerful of their nation's enemies: beggars.

Perhaps taking a cue from Bob ("Fry 'em! Fry 'em all! Twice!") Dole and Bill ("I Feel Your Pain But Just Don't Care") Clinton, the two would-be leaders of the used-to-be empire put on a manly display of negative compassion toward the destitute homeless. Labour leader (and proud, trumpeting Christian) Tony Blair began the charge by telling The Big Issue -- a magazine sold by the homeless -- that he believed in 'zero tolerance' against begging, and never gave a mendicant so much as a copper. Tory top-dog John Major immediately claimed that he had been stiffing beggars for years, and sneered at Blair's "hypocrisy" for now embracing the Tory's "get lost, you lot" policies toward Britain's poorest, which he had once condemned.

For Blair, who's been swinging so far to the right he keeps bumping into Ian Paisley, the row was yet another successful raid on traditionally Tory ground. For Major, it was one more frustrating bail job in a leaky, sinking ship. For Britain's beggars, however, it could be seen as an elevation to the ranks of our modern era's most terrifying enemies, such as those unwed teenage mothers and illegal immigrants working in sweatshops who threaten, any day now, to bring down the American colossus.

What's going to be next? "Beleaguered Canadian PM Declares War on Widows, Orphans." "Juppe to Terminally Ill: Go Unplug Yourselves." That might be worth a few votes.

Wayward Island

These Brits, though: You gotta love 'em. Even if -- or maybe because -- they're just a bunch of big pervs. Or so it would seem by the constant slew of sex-crime stories pouring daily from that scepter'd isle. Consider a couple of items culled from a single day, from a single source, one of Britain's most reputable dailies. (Yes, of course, that's an oxymoron.)

Angela Quinn, a 26-year-old school teacher, was sentenced this week to six months in stir for passing hubba-hubba notes to an 11-year-old boy in her class. They'd been exchanging notes openly, in a giggly, girlfriend-boyfriend way for some time, but the explicit nature of the missives was not discovered until two weeks before the teacher's scheduled wedding.

"Do you still want it on Thursday?" read the only one of the notes fit to print in a decent, family newspaper column (or even this one). When first questioned, Quinn nobly claimed that the notes had been written to the boy by her fianc?, but later pled guilty to inciting a minor to commit an act of gross indecency.

Perhaps she should have turned for guidance to a sympathetic priest -- such as the Rev. Edward Glover, arraigned this week in ecclesiastical court for allegedly having it on in an adulterous manner in the front seat of his Volvo with a woman supplicant he was meant to be consoling.

Glover, 39, a married father of two, denies the charges but has resigned his license (to pastorize, that is; he can still drive the Volvo) on account of stress. His former parishioner, Margaret Orpen, married mother of three, charges that Glover took her out in his Swedish lovemobile on the pretext of consoling her on her father's death, then invaded her privacy, her privates and anything else he could lay his hands on.

Mother Love

Finally, the Most Boring Woman in the World Without a Royal Title, Madonna, said this week that she will not let her daughter, Lourdes, watch all that "poison" on TV -- like peroxided hussies grabbing their crotches and licking the sweat from pulsating pectorals, maybe -- and would make the little girl read the Bible and "know about Catholicism," whatever that means. ("Hey, Lourdes, ya know about Catholicism? Ever hoid of it?" "Yeah, Ma, I hoid of it already!" "Cool.")