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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Body of Evidence

While those indefatigable deputies in the State Duma busy themselves with committees and commissions probing the dark, Byzantine mysteries of Russia's economic collapse, they may be overlooking the most obvious answer of all: an errant elbow.

After all, it happened at the Paris stock market, where an out-of-joint joint led to a panicky plunge in French 10-year bond futures, investigators told The Associated Press this week.

Actually, the offending elbow was in London, where last July a bank trader at Salomon Brothers was playing with French futures through the wizardry of electronic trading. While his futures flashed before his eyes, the unnamed trader leaned avidly toward his keyboard, putting his elbow on the "Instant Sell" button and throwing 145 separate sell orders onto the virtual trading floor. Other traders, clearly suspecting that the market's "invisible hand" was reaching for the flusher, scurried to dump their paper, too.

However, there was probably a different body part involved in the Russian flush; no doubt the mental mammoths in the Kremlin just ran out of fingers when they were tabulating economic data this summer.

Fallen Standards

The French took another body blow last week, and right in the region where national pride flares most fiercely: the loins.

Yes, the Land of Lovers is the latest to fall captive to the great blue wave of Viagra sweeping the world, Reuters reports. The anti-impotence drug f originally developed for those anemic Americans f finally went on sale in France, where surveys showed 20 percent of the male population were in need of the pharmaceutical pick-me-up.

For many, however, the pill is a monstrous insult d'honneur. "Once upon a time, the reputation of the French was that we did not need this sort of thing," said Jean Dutourd, member of the elite French Academy.

"We were always ready, whenever necessary and as soon as necessary. The arrival of this pill marks a major blow for France."

Others are reportedly urging Jacques Chirac to inspire his drooping people by "getting with an intern or something. Mon Dieu, this never would have happened under Mitterrand!"

Money Squeeze

Meanwhile, those anemic American men revealed their deepest, darkest erotic dreams this week in a national survey that yielded astonishing results: U.S. males have the hots for George Washington.

And Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant f even lumpy old Ben Franklin. Yes, American men have far more fantasies about money than sex, according to a new Playboy poll. The survey of 1,000 men aged 18 to 49 (guys over 50 f like, say, Bill Clinton f obviously have no sexual fantasies) showed that most testosteronites lusted after slinky pay raises, sultry suburban homes and curvaceous cars, not a bunch of icky old girls.

However, when the American male can bestir himself to give a moment's thought to the opposite sex, he exhibits decided constructivist tendencies. Men in their 20s chose the pneumatic Pamela Anderson as the primary object of their flitting desire, while fortysomethings went for the equally overhauled Demi Moore. Oddly enough, 30s guys picked the unnaturally natural Sandra Bullock as their dream girl.

Maybe they think she's got a wooden leg or something.

Diplomatic Cover

In a move clearly reflecting the enormous amount of respect and concern the United Nations feels toward the issue of women's health, UN officials this week named a new "special ambassador" to deal with the matter: Ginger Spice.

Yes, Geri Halliwell, the ex-Spice who taught a whole generation of pre-teen girls that, hey, it's OK to look like the lacquered-up madam of a Kansas City cathouse, has been appointed to the UN Population Fund, Agence France Presse reports. Although her career has been spent gyrating in a manner suggestive of activities tending to increase birth rates, Ambassador Halliwell will tackle "issues of AIDS, contraception and reproductive health in developing countries," UN spokesman Alex Marshall said.

The precise nature of Halliwell's diplomatic brief "has not yet been determined," Marshall said, although it's thought she will probably be sent to AIDS-ravaged areas in Africa, where she will encourage patients to show more cleavage, wear more lycra, and proclaim their "Girl Power."

Seat of Power

The ultimate in vicarious celebrityhood can now be yours at last. Yes, thanks to a London auction house, you worthless, wretched plebs can now park your bottoms where the bottoms of royalty and pop glitterati once parked themselves during the brief but boffo run of that smash hit show, "The Funeral of Princess Di."

For a mere $5,000 or so, you can sit there in your dark hovel, picking scabs and watching "Dynasty" re-runs, content in the knowledge that Sir Elton John once plopped his robust rump in your new chair. Or perhaps the Queen herself sat squirming with the effort of feigning grief where you now lounge, leg over arm (chair arm, that is), reading "Bridget Jones' Diary."

Proceeds from the auction of funeral chairs will go to one of the Diana memorial funds, which have thus far funneled millions of dollars to needy lawyers, marketers and administrators.

Stain Remover

Convicted Congressional ethics violator Newt Gingrich, busy overseeing the Congressional attack on presidential ethics violations, breathed a sigh of relief last week when Congressional ethics violation investigators dropped additional ethics violation charges against him.

Ethics violator Gingrich was fined $300,000 by Congress for repeatedly lying to investigators f sorry, for repeatedly making inaccurate statements to investigators f during an official inquiry into the monkeyshines of his tangled web of fundraising groups. But last week, the Congressional ethics committee investigating his ethics violations said ethics violator Gingrich had apparently not violated Congressional ethics for almost two whole years, so they were dropping the rest of his ethics violation charges, AP reports.

Top Republicans like confessed adulterer Henry Hyde, who is running the Congressional impeachment probe into Clinton's adultery, and alleged campaign fund abuser Dan Burton, who is heading the Congressional investigation of Clinton's alleged campaign fund abuses, welcomed Gingrich's reprieve and were glad they could now carry on the impeachment process "with clean hands."