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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


G.I. Jane

The Church of England came down hard on homosexuals this week, casting them into outer darkness for being unregenerate silly-billies who are unfit to wear the manly skirts of priesthood. But at least there was one place left in Britain where the differently inclined are made welcome. We speak, of course, of that historically liberal and tolerant institution -- the British army.

Sergeant Major Joe Rushton announced this week he plans to undergo a sex change and become Sergeant Major Joanne Rushton. But to the surprise of many (Rushton most of all), the army plans to stand by their man -- even when he becomes a woman, the Guardian reports.

Rushton, 37, a 17-year vet just back from a tour in Bosnia, was forced to reveal his plans when a physical exam uncovered the new contours of his hormone-treated body. "It's amazing how forward thinking the army has been," he said. He claimed the brass were even going to pay for his replacement parts; but an army spokesman said they are still mulling that bit over. Otherwise, however, sah major's metamorphosis is peachy keen with them.

"We have no policy on transsexuals other than if a soldier is male or female, they need to conform to standards of fitness like all other soldiers," said a Defense Ministry spokesman.

So does this open-mindedness mean the army will now accept gay and lesbian recruits? In a bishop's eye!

"That is a different matter," the spokesman said.

Skin Game

There are some things you'd think you wouldn't have to pass a law against.

Horse-tickling, for example. Mayonnaise abuse. Impersonating a shinbone. The kind of thing that, you know, just shouldn't crop up all that often.

But Israeli legislators were confronted with such an ineffability this week, when they had to pass a law against unauthorized posthumous circumcision, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The vote came after revelations that fundamentalist rabbis were clipping the dead without asking the families' permission. The targets were most often deceased immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who had grown to the fullness of manhood without benefit of bris, but decided to skip the foreskin formalities when they arrived in the Promised Land.

Liberal MPs saw the vote as a blow against the "religious tyranny" of the ultra-Orthodox, who hold the balance of power in Bibi's fair and fractured land.

"Only I am responsible for my sexual organs," said Knesset MP Yossi Sarid. "The religious establishment is not only taking control of our lives, it is controlling our deaths."

Meanwhile, the far-right rebbes are fighting another battle of the body. Although they don't mind making that final cut on a cadaver's covering, they are trying to ban medical autopsies as "a desecration."

Go figure.

Legal Brief

American justice -- that shining beacon in a world of dark and ignorant chaos -- never burned more brilliantly than in the Florida courtroom where this week an evil miscreant was sentenced to life in prison -- for stealing $49.73 worth of underwear from the Wal-Mart in Palm Beach.

Phillip Sanders, 43, will be encaged with murderers, rapists and disgraced televangelists for the rest of his natural life because he fell afoul of one of country's ever-more-popular (and ever-more-draconian) "get tough on crime" laws, The Associated Press reports.

Sanders had already served one turn in stir, you see: two years for whupping up on somebody. He received a life sentence under a new law that mandates the maximum penalty for "violent crimes" committed within a certain time period after a convict's release. Sanders' new charge was "robbery with a deadly weapon," which carries a "maximum penalty" of life without parole.

Did the dastard pull out an Uzi or brandish an ax while he was lifting the boxer shorts, panties and sports bra? (An odd assortment of items, yes, but perhaps he was thinking of joining the British army). No, Phil had merely used a pocket knife to cut open the packages before stuffing the loot in his pants. Robbery with a deadly weapon should be made of sterner stuff.

The judge had no choice but to impose the harsh sentence. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, "mandatory sentencing laws" have gutted 700 years of common-law tradition granting judges the liberty to decide individual cases on their own merit.

But at least the Palm Beach Wal-Mart underwear aisle will be a safer place to shop now.

Fortunes of War

Steven Spielberg's depiction of the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach in his new film, "Saving Private Ryan," is already being hailed as one of the most brilliant and harrowing sequences in cinematic history. (And justly so, we must say -- if the Eye can turn into one of those ridiculous film reviewer-types for a moment.) But the sequence might never have happened if not for a wrong number dialed by a demobed Royal Marine, the Guardian reports.

Ex-Sergeant Major Ken Murgatroyd had gone all civvy after 22 years in military harness and was reduced to working as a phone salesman hawking Internet databases in London. But a slip of the digit on a cold-call to a computer company landed him instead on the line with Neil Corbould, a top assistant to Spielberg.

A few minutes of embarrassed chit-chat made Corbould realize he had stumbled across an expert in amphibious landings -- just the man Spielberg was looking for. In a matter of days (and with nary a hormone treatment), Murgatroyd found himself transformed from phone drone to Hollywood pro, showing Tom Hanks the ropes and hanging out with Spielberg himself during the many weeks of intense filming in County Wexford, Ireland.

More movie work is doubtless in the offing for Murgatroyd, as "Ryan's" conquest of the box office spawns the inevitable knock-offs straining for Spielbergian heights. We foresee gritty, gripping epics like "Bag of Guts," starring Mel Gibson; "Sack of Brains," with Leonardo DiCaprio; "Open Wounds," featuring Johnny Depp; and "Babes in Arms," starring Demi Moore, Geena Davis and Joanne Rushton.