German pol says unemployed should catch rats

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Especially fitting as we approach the end of the Year of The Rat.

“Especially people who usually collect bottles could get one euro for every dead rat,” Henner Schmidt, head of the business-friendly Free Democrat party in the Mitte district of Berlin, told Berliner Kurier newspaper this week.

Instead of paying per rat, they should pay by weight. Imagine the payoff for bringing in Herr Schmidt? Or Mr. Madoff?

In his defense, “Lassen Sie sie Ratten essen!” doesn’t really sound all that much worse than “Lassen Sie sie Kuchen essen!” (A/K/A “Laissez-les manger le gâteau.”) Still not nearly as good as “Permetta loro di mangiare formaggio!

UPDATE: Now the Italians (or at least the Milanese) are saying, “Lascili mangiare il caviale!”  Customs inspectors in Milan seized 40 kilogrammes (88 pounds) of beluga caviar last month from two couriers travelling from Warsaw, Corriere della Sera newspaper reported. Prosecutors will hang on to a sample of the prized sturgeon eggs worth a total of 400,000 euros (557,000 dollars) for the investigation, while the rest will be given to charities to give to the poor.

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Headline of the Day: Vietnam cracks down on hamster craze

Born to be mildFrom next Monday, anyone possessing or trading hamsters faces stiff fines of up to 30 million dong (1,875 dollars), the Vietnam News daily reported, citing a new agriculture ministry directive to enforce a ban imposed last month. The communist government aims to end a youth craze for the fast-breeding animals, which were previously only imported for scientific research, but which have now spawned online hamster forums and real-life hamster clubs.

Apparently the Year of the Ratatouille is to blame for the popularity of the rodents. The government is afraid that they could spread disease and destroy crops.

This crackdown seems to have hit the blackmarket hamster trade very hard: “Amid the stern warning, the state-run Vietnam News reported, the street price of hamsters, many smuggled from China and Thailand without licenses or quarantine checks, has already dropped from over 20 dollars to less than 10.”

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Year of The Rat is restaurants’ marketing jackpot

The Ho-la Diner and the Jiashing restaurant opposite have run five or six rat eateries out of town over nearly six decades of business to become the top two ahead of the Year of the Rat, which begins on February 7. Both display hairless rat carcasses in their kitchen windows before chopping off the heads and throwing the pint-sized bodies and tails into pots with basil and sweet, black sauce.

Putting the rat back in ratatouille.

RatSomeone call Remy, I sense an endorsement deal.

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Headline of the day: “Russian rat shortage on eve of Year of the Rat”

RatMOSCOW (AFP) – Moscow pet shops are reporting a run on rats, as keen astrologically-minded Russians snap them up ahead of the New Year, which is the Chinese Year of the Rat, Interfax news agency reported Monday. Desperate shoppers are even resorting to buying mice, hamsters or gerbils in lieu of a real, domestic rat, according to one shop in the capital.Chinese astrology is closely followed in Russia, which shares a long border with China, and where many newspapers deliver daily horoscopes — and advice on how to care for new pet rats given as presents on December 31.

Oddly, they had the same problem in the year of the dragon.

(Happy 1st Headline of the Day for 2008)

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