Guess the country

Under its corrupt government, which is widely believed to sell seats in the upper house of parliament in return for contributions to ruling party funds, the once-free nation of Xxxx is rapidly turning into a police state.

Pre-trial detention, once limited to 72 hours, is being repeatedly extended to far longer periods. Old rules about the accused being innocent until proved guilty are being cast aside. The right to silence has been abolished and so has the law which prevented anyone being tried twice for the same offence. The police increasingly take action against individuals for expressing opinions which defy 'political correctness', the official orthodoxy of the Xxxx state.

Which country got this not entirely inaccurate diatribe against it a few days ago on the Mail on Sunday website?

Melt your money

Pray show pity for the previously-mighty US dollar. Even those of us who would generally rather use the Financial Times for chip-wrapping rather than reading material can't have failed to have heard of its financial weakness. Recently, for the first time since Black Wednesday, it's been in danger of being worth less than 50 British pence. Now is a particularly good time for Britons to go buy, buy, buy any old American tat.

In fact, some US coins are actually worth so little currency-wise that you would make a significant profit from melting them in a big hotpot and selling the metallic goodness. But before you money saving experts do it, read on.

No-effort surveillance

Forget any bugging of your wheelie bin - if the Government / police / identity thieves / blackmailers really want to track you and your life then there's something slightly more to be worried about. It's with you all the time, it knows where you are and what you're saying. It's often linked personally to sensitive identity and financial information about you. You even pay heavily for the privilege of having it.

Yes, of course, it's your mobile phone.

Bum trouble

The UK celebration of the defeat-of-freedom-fighters festival (sort of) known as Guy Fawkes Day has been and gone. With it of course comes plenty of fireworks action. And with that of course comes plenty of horrific injuries - [1], [2], [3], [4] and [5] are just a few examples.

However, the award for the best injury of the day is at present, narrowly missed out on by a blown-up partridge, is awarded to a 22-year old man who managed to incur the wrath of the firework gods to the extent he suffered from a scorched colon.

Sprout attack (and Saddam)

The rumours are untrue - the recent absence is not because the Poorhouse is actually Saddam Hussein and the recent (death) sentencing has caused an interruption in Internet connectivity. Still, let's not deal with that thorny issue now - other to note that Blair has amazed the Poorhouse in a good way by publicly (if ineffectively) stating his opinion that he is entirely against the death sentence. Beckett's comments that "we always try to persuade others not to use it" do seem a little unrealistic given our lot seem happy enough with America being into executions despite it totally breaching of human rights legislation the UK Government supposedly stands firm with. Oh, and co-incidental congratulations to Bush and the Republicans for managing to arrange this just in time for their otherwise embarrassing elections.

Time to lighten the mood. In a near-seasonal celebration, the Poorhouse recommends having a game of Attack of the Sprouts. Assume the role of a party-hatted-up Xmas diner tucking into his turkey whilst trying to defend himself from a sprout invasion into his dinner. Slightly noisy for the workplace, but you can tell the boss you're improving reaction time, hand-eye co-ordination, team building or other such corporately self-developmentally enough excuse.

Dick Cheney approves of torture

Oh dear, despite usually plotting evil behind closed doors, US vice-president Dick Cheney's accidentally said something in public again. Previously famous for shooting his friends and swearing at senators, he's now pretty much confirmed something we all kind of knew.

The Bush administration endorses torture.

In an interview with Scott Hennen, one of America's many conservative radio show hosts, the following exchanges took place:

Pink rehabilitation

Criminal re-offending rates in recentish times have apparently never been higher since Labour came into Government. Somewhere around two-thirds of criminals commit offences within 2 years of leaving prison. How to stop this spiral of deviance?

Well, over in Texas, Sheriff Clint Low has the answer. The best way to prevent these sick, twisted, evil, hardened (mostly) men from coming back to jail is to embarrass them a tad. And the best way to make them go red with shame? Surround them with pink.

Biggest pile of chemical explosives ever found - quietly

Suppose the Poorhouse told you that the largest haul of bomb-making explosives ever found in someone's house in the UK was discovered recently. And not just your average backyard weaponry; we're talking rocket launchers, chemicals and even nuclear-biological suits. Scared yet?

Before you run away in panic - or wonder why it hasn't been plastered all over the international news-wires - please have a think about who you think was the owner of these things. Let us guess - a dark skinned bearded fellow with an Arabic name?

I can't come into work because...

We all know that, on the whole, employment sucks. Who wants to spend 50+ years doing some tedious set of tasks to grind the wheels of capitalism? Well it doesn't really matter what you think, because most often if you want to stay alive and well you're going to have to. Boo.

It is therefore of little surprise that much time is taken up dwelling on methods of getting out of a few days work without encountering the termination of ones employment. There are no doubt many classic tales, but James Snyder and Mary Jensen went further than most.

Free, royal and transforming goats

Back for moreBack for moreToday is the 10-day anniversary of our potentially ongoing series of goat news, so what better way to celebrate than by offering the chance to win a goat? Not that the Poorhouse has one, and moreover actually it's too late. Nonetheless had you been a) a bit earlier, and probably b) a bit better at rugby, you could have joined Scottish "stars" Chris Paterson and Marcus Di Rollo at a charitable rugby tournament - first prize being a herd of goats.

The Scots aren't the only ones to fancy a bit of goat. Last month saw the coronation of King Louis. Now, it's not what you're thinking, the French Sun King has not been reborn 300-odd years after saying his final goodbyes. Rather, Louis is a wild mountain boy-goat from Ireland's highest mountain, Carrauntoohill. As part of the Puck Fair (we said 'Puck' - although to be fair the festival is thought to have "fertility" connotations) a goat is regularly crowned as being the King of Ireland.

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