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Inside the system

February 7, 2003 | Page 4

Putin the elf

FANS OF the latest Harry Potter movie may notice a striking resemblance between Dobby, the computer-generated house elf, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. A Russian law firm is suing the special effects people who dreamt up Dobby--arguing that the ugly little elf was modeled on Putin himself.

Apparently Potter Web sites and chatrooms have been inundated with angry Russian messages attacking anyone suggesting a likeness between the elf and Putin. Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy has reported on the battles, and Russian TV is preparing to broadcast results of a BBC poll in which more than 7,000 people say Dobby does look like Putin.

It's not the first time the Russian media have lashed out over "misuse" of an image of their president. In 1995, the prosecutor-general investigated alleged insults against Boris Yeltsin in a satirical puppet show, but the court case was later dropped.

--This is London, January 28, 2003

Pledge allegiance--or get out

MIDDLE-SCHOOL student Jim Woodbury got a shock when he recently refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance in his U.S. history and constitution class. His teacher, David Laven, made him stand outside the classroom--after hitting the roof when Jim supposedly tried to "incite" other students not to say the pledge.

When Jim presented a packet of information about students' rights to refuse to say the pledge, Laven then allegedly threw the information into a trash can, saying that he didn't care what the law is.

"We are appalled that this can go on in the school," said Jim's mother. Jim, an eighth-grader, said he refused to say the pledge because of his political beliefs. "I believe the flag is a symbol of the government, and I think it's corrupt, and I don't agree with some of the choices it made," he said.

--The Press Democrat, January 8, 2003

Heard it through the grapevine

"THE FACT that the inspectors have not yet come up with new evidence of Iraq's [weapons of mass destruction] program could be evidence, in and of itself, of Iraq's non-cooperation."
--Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

"IF THIS is not evil, then evil has no meaning."
--George W. Bush, on Saddam Hussein

"GEORGE BUSH wants to get hold of the Iraqi oil."
--Nelson Mandela

"I THINK it's wonderful that in the United States, people can go out into the streets and show their true feelings. And it contrasts so greatly with the situation that people in Iraq find themselves in, where your tongue can be ripped out for criticizing the regime."
--National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice

"THESE SAME corporate entities have an interest in war, have an interest in profiting from war. They represent corporate America. Corporate America dictates the news we are getting."
--Actor Janeane Garofalo

"YOU'RE THINKING of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's old Europe."
--Rumsfeld, on "unwilling" allies in the U.S. war against Iraq

"COOL DOWN. We are good friends and allies."
--German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, in response

"ONE HOPES that this kind of war can be done diplomatically, with intelligence, rather than wiping out a lot of innocent civilians."
--Director Martin Scorsese

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