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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Halfway House

It's "Aprons On!" for Austrian husbands as new Halb Halb marriage and divorce laws are winding their way toward legislative approval in Vienna, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Austrian men -- whom surveys show to be among the most sexist in Europe (and no mean feat that!) -- will be legally obliged to do at least half of all household chores and child-rearing under the new legislation. The Halb Halb campaign, approved by an all-party committee this week, is an effort to revamp the nation's draconian marriage regulations, which were established by that champion of old-fashioned family values, Adolf Hitler, after he and his Nazis annexed Austria in 1938.

It must be said the current laws are exceedingly easy on the boys. A man can sunder the marriage vows if Her Indoors fails to keep the house Teutonically tidy, or is a little bit late with the supper schnitzel. One man recently won a divorce on the grounds that his wife failed to use his favorite dishwashing liquid. (Can you even imagine the mental anguish? "I lowered my nose slowly to the plate, your honor, hoping against hope, but ... but ... but there was no lemony fresh smell at all!")

Now, however, connubial collegiality will be compulsory. These Austies certainly don't do things by halbs, do they?

Chimes at Midnight

Meanwhile, way down in Israel land, the powers-that-be were also marriage-minded this week. But the learned rebbes in charge of the nation's family affairs weren't looking to snip any male privileges in the home. Quite the contrary.

In a move sure to throw cold water on the evening revels of Tel Aviv's torrid disco scene, a rabbinical court declared that married women must be home by midnight, The Associated Press reports. The ruling came in a -- guess what? -- divorce action by a man who claimed his wife was out trawling singles bars and seeing in the dawn. (Her brand of dishwashing liquid evidently did not come up.)

True, the husband is "sleeping with other women," as the wife told the rabbis. And such behavior is "insufferable," they conceded. But they insisted the midnight curfew applieth only unto Rachel, never unto Jacob.

And even secular Jews -- atheists, apostates, disco dancers, Hare Krishna converts -- are subject to the rulings of rabbinical courts when it comes to hitching and unhitching in the Holy Land; Israel has no provision for civil marriage or divorce.

Bond of Matrimony

Poor husbandry was also a burning topic in Britain this week, as Prime Minister Tony Blair put the kibosh on Sean Connery's knighthood because of the Bondman's uncavalier attitude toward domestic slap-and-tickle.

The rebuff escalated into a full-scale political row, the Guardian reports, when Scottish Nationalists accused the Labour government of smearing their favorite son (and ardent supporter). Stirred but not shaken, the Labourites pointed to a 1993 interview the burly actor gave to Vanity Fair.

"Sometimes there are women who take it to the wire," Connery mused. "They want a smack. An open-handed slap is justified if all alternatives fail and there has been plenty of warning. If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I'd do it."

Connery said his remarks -- which he called "stupid" -- had been taken "out of context" (he had obviously been referring to the evil Pussy Galore, not that nice Miss Moneypenny.) And his wife said he'd never laid a less than loving hand on her in their 28-year marriage, The Telegraph reported. Scottish Nationalists in Parliament are demanding apologies, and by midweek, a backpedaling Blair was denying he had ordered the "background briefings" that spread word of the snub.

Somewhat lost in the furor was another, perhaps more decisive reason for Labour's umbrage: "Do you think we should give this honor to a notorious tax exile?" said one Labour leaker.

In an unrelated incident this week, Queen Elizabeth II formally bestowed a knighthood on longtime Atlanta resident, Elton Hercules John.

French Fried

Another famous actor with girl troubles -- Robert De Niro -- was waxing wroth in nearly every medium this week, foregoing his famous taciturnity to denounce France and all her works after being hauled in by Paris cops and grilled for nine hours about his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring, the Guardian reports.

"I'm way beyond what you'd call furious," the normally mild-mannered, milquetoasty little star told Le Monde this week. "I will never come back to France. I will advise my friends not to come to France. I couldn't give a damn about the Cannes film festival."

The raging bull had been gored by his treatment at the hands of French authorities, who found his name in the black book of one of the suspects in a pricey call-girl ring catering to celebrities. He also didn't care for the imputation that he had to rely on filthy lucre to find love. "I have never paid for a woman in my life," he declared. He and la belle France are quits for good, he said; he's even returning his Legion d'Honneur, awarded last year at Cannes: "I don't see any reason why I should hang on to that thing, which comes from a country which flouts its own motto of liberty, equality and fraternity."

And anyway, Jerry Lewis got one too; so how much can it really mean?

Dish and Dialectic

Well, they do have great superstructure.

Cuban President Fidel Castro said he had a "spiritual" experience during his private meeting with supermodels Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss last week. The two skinny-moo types were flashing the feathers and glad-rags in a Havana fashion shoot for Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph reports.

The garrulous graybeard held a 90-minute eyes-only summit with the pair, who pronounced themselves, variously, "inspired," "nervous," and "flustered" by the bull session.

El Presidente talked to the lithesomes "about their work," the paper said. "I too am bedeviled by the problem of sand in strategic areas while posing beachside for photos to rouse the toiling masses."