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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Light My Fire

Like a lot of successful men (or, in his case, quasi-successful men), Benjamin Netanyahu enjoys relaxing with a good cigar. In fact, Israel's ever-embattled prime minister loves the finely packed leaf so much that it's caused yet another scandal for his administration. (This would be approximately the 478th brouhaha he's faced since taking office.)

Israel's biggest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, called Bibi on the carpet last week after it discovered the puff-happy PM was spending nearly $40,000 a year on choice Cuban cigars -- and charging it to taxpayers as "a legitimate entertainment expense," Reuters reports.

Netanyahu's aides -- who, one would think, just might have something better to do -- spent several days defending the practice of sending $3,200 in government money up in smoke every month. But early this week, they sought to flick the controversy into the ashtray of history, announcing that the prime minister's office would use the money on "other refreshments" for official guests.

Bibi himself, presumably, will now have to nip round to the 7-Eleven on the corner and get his own smokes.

Law of Nature

In spring, a young man's fancy may turn to love -- but he has no right to act on those desires. And neither do any randy young misses out there, either.

At least, that's the law of the land in California, where an appeals court ruled this week that teenagers have no constitutional right to have sex -- with anybody, anytime.

The ruling by Justice Ignazio Ruvolo came in the case of a 16-year-old boy who was convicted of statutory rape for unseemly intimacy with his 14-year-old girlfriend, The Associated Press reports. The boy's lawyers claimed sex was a basic right protected by privacy laws, and that statutory rape provisions were designed to protect minors from adults, not each other.

But Ruvolo told them to zip it. "While we do not ignore the reality that many California teenagers are sexually active," he wrote with admirable understatement, "there are freedoms which adults enjoy which are beyond those afforded minors. Juveniles may have the ability to respond to nature's call to exercise the gift of physical love, yet be unable to accept the attendant obligations." Such as phoning the next day, using breath mints, that kind of thing.

The young Lothario could face jail time for exercising the gift of physical love (and he'd certainly learn some "attendant obligations" about sex in there, wouldn't he?); but prosecutors, no doubt harking back to their own rakehell youth, have recommended probation.

Love Boat

Then again, it seems some adults don't have the right to exercise those love gifts, either. Not according to Save Our Bahamas, or SOB, a godly group that brought out hundreds of supporters in Nassau last week to protest the arrival of a boatload of lesbians, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The cruise ship Seabreeze had come calling with 800 passengers on a lesbian-themed holiday. But only eight decided to brave the righteous wrath, however, making their jostled way to the market through angry shouts of "God made woman for man" and "keep your perversions in your bedrooms."

"I came here to show resentment to lesbians and homosexuals," said protester Barbara Taylor. "I saw with my own eyes two people kissing. I'm upset with the government for allowing them to come here."

The SOBs say they want "more sodomy laws" (laws against it, presumably) and are calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham for refusing to ban gay cruises to the island.

Rendering Unto Caesar

This week, tens of millions of Americans took part in the annual rite of spring that marks the ultimate sacrifice. No, not Easter -- Tax Day.

As multitudes were scrambling to meet the Wednesday deadline for tithing to the federal god, one taxpayer who had dutifully mailed her forms in early got a nice little gift of thanks from the Internal Revenue Service: a tax bill for $270 billion, AP reports.

Lorie Marling of Columbus, Ohio, was ever so slightly surprised by the gargantuan dun. "My accountant was afraid I'd have a heart attack," she said. "He thought I was being called on to pay off the national debt." (Or maybe a couple of months' worth of Gazprom tax arrears.)

The IRS is nothing if not humane, however; they magnanimously offered to allow Marling to pay off the bill in three easy installments of $90 billion each.

After several days' wrangling, the agency did finally have recourse to that saving grace of bureaucracies everywhere: "Mistakes were made."

Wham Bam

Here's a red-hot news flash: George Michael is gay! The soulful singer courageously acknowledged his sexuality last week -- after being arrested for exercising the gift of physical love in a men's room at a Los Angeles park, the Guardian reports.

Michael apologized to fans for the way the news came out, but said he gets a "kick" from prowling public toilets, hanging out the back with the attendant risk of discovery (or the risk of discovery by attendants) adding to the thrill.

"I feel stupid and reckless and weak, but I don't feel any shame whatsoever," Michael said, availing himself of that all-purpose modern confessional, CNN. "I have no problem with people knowing I am in a relationship with a man right now. I have not been in a relationship with a woman for almost 10 years," he added, to the utter shock of fans around the world who had long considered him a bastion of hetero butchosity.

London tabloids had their usual field day with the news, publishing photos of the singer in the same park several months before, "making 15 trips between two lavatories in three hours," according to News of the World. Although the L.A. cuisine could possibly have been a factor, the paper said the toilet trots "give the lie to George's claim he was entrapped by police in a moment of recklessness."

Michael has not been told whether formal charges will be filed against him. He has, however, reportedly canceled plans for a holiday in Nassau.