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Inside the system

September 13, 2002 | Page 4

Vladimir Putin--the pop idol

WHO'S HITTING it big with teenage girls in Russia these days? N'Sync? The Backstreet Boys? No, it's Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A pop song idolizing Putin recently got airplay on Russia's leading radio stations--even though the band that sings it does not appear to exist, and the record is not on sale in any stores. The song, "Someone Like Putin," by Singing Together, features a female lead singer complaining that her adolescent boyfriend fights, drinks and does drugs. So she leaves him and looks for someone else…someone like Putin.

The chorus runs: "Someone like Putin, to be full of strength/Someone like Putin, who doesn't drink/Someone like Putin, who doesn't offend/Someone like Putin, who won't run away."

The band's name and slushy lyrics suggest that the artists are part of Come Together, a youth organization that idolizes the president and backs family values. Some commentators, though, think that the song is a heavy-handed attempt to create a theme tune for the upcoming presidential election campaign, in early 2004.

--Daily Telegraph, August 23, 2002

There's nothing they won't sponsor

"THIS GRAVE brought to you by…" That could be the new reality at Waverly Cemetery in Sydney, Australia.

Under a new plan, corporations, clubs and individuals may soon be able to "sponsor" the final resting places of famous Australians buried in the cemetery. Sponsors would get a bronze plaque bearing their name fixed to the grave.

Restoration of a gravesite could cost between $5,000 and $15,000, depending on the work required. After that, an annual grave maintenance fee of between $700 and $1,000 would be charged.

A cemetery spokesperson said applications for sponsorship would be carefully assessed to be sure that they were "appropriate." "Cemeteries have limited funding," said one official. "It's one of the only avenues we have left to help maintain these relics."

--Sydney Morning Herald, August 29, 2002

Heard it through the grapevine

"MY ONLY regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building."
--Right-wing psychotic Ann Coulter

"I WILL first remind the United Nations that for 11 long years, Saddam Hussein has sidestepped, crawfished, wheedled out of any agreement he had made not to harbor, not to develop weapons of mass destruction, agreements he's made to treat the people within his country with respect. And so I'm going to call upon the world to recognize that he is stiffing the world."
--George W. Bush

"WE ARE taking Pakistan from democratic dictatorship to elected democracy."
--Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, after adding 29 unrepealable amendments to the country's constitution that allow him to dissolve parliament and appoint Supreme Court judges

"I'M TOO good to share. What am I? Cadbury's Temptations or Kashmir?"
--Cadbury advertisement, for its new candy Temptations. Cadbury apologized for its insensitivity to the Kashmir conflict, during which more than 35,000 people have died

"[IT] WASN'T a matter of government pressure, but a reluctance to criticize anything in a war that was obviously supported by the vast majority of the people."
--Rena Golden, executive vice president and general manager of CNN International, admitting that the channel censored news about the Afghan war

"I DON'T think that should be portrayed on television as a good thing. It's tough on the mother, and it's tough on the child."
--Former Vice President Dan Quayle, on why Friends single mother Rachel Green is a bad role model

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