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May 21, 1998

World news in brief

Committee declares dishwasher clean; paves way for “unloading”

WASHINGTON — A three-month investigation by the Army Corps of Engineers found the stuff in the national dishwasher to be clean. Pending approval from Congress, the dishwasher should be “unloaded,” or emptied, early next week.dishes.gif (9683 bytes)

The status of the nation’s dishes, glasses, bowls and silverware had been unknown for more than five years, when the Clinton cabinet took control of the Kenmore Quiet automatic dishwasher that has served the U.S. since Nancy Reagan had it installed in 1981. Although the contents appeared to have been cleaned, several glasses were filmy, prompting some officials to label the entire load “dirty.” Since records from the Bush administration were destroyed, it was not clear which group was right.

“Usually, a dish is a good indicator of the load,” said Secretary of Dishes Brian Hopkins. “I could see my reflection on most of the plates, but on two dishes there was not only a lack of shine, but what appeared to be crumbs. So I could not recommend unloading.”

Thus the investigation cost taxpayers $25 million on top of the $200 million of new dishware that was used before the report was complete. After examining each object and interviewing former and present Cabinet members, the special panel concluded that the load was clean, and that the few dirty objects were placed there by Strom Thurmond, who, while visiting the White House in January of 1993, mistakenly placed three used pie plates in the dishwasher.

Said a relieved Hopkins: “I’m glad this ‘mess’ is behind us and we can begin to unload and start a new cycle.”

Georgia no longer on Ray Charles’ mind

ATLANTA — Bernard S. Greenbaum, lawyer for musician Ray Charles, filed a complaint against the state of Georgia for its failure to comply with a district court’s order to remove all signs bearing the legend “Welcome to Georgia. Georgia is on my mind.”

“That statement is the intellectual property of my client,” said Greenbaum, “and Mr. Charles has expressed several times in the last few months that he no longer has Georgia on his mind.” When asked to describe what Charles now had ‘on his mind’ Greenbaum offered no comment.

Speculation in the press here has led many to believe that Charles is close to signing an agreement with the Republic of Georgia, a tiny state in the Caucasus best known for ethnic strife and native son Joseph Stalin. Georgian officials refused to confirm the speculation, but hinted that it was true. “One cannot be certain, but we think it is very probable Ray will soon have The Republic of Georgia on his mind,” said Georgian minister for culture Aleksandr Chavchavadze.

Keen-eyed listeners have noted that Charles has changed the song’s lyrics in recent concerts and recordings. Where the song once ran, “Georgia, Georgia, a song of you comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines,” it now says, “I have felt longing in my heart for the golden spires of Tbilisi, cradle of the mighty Georgian people who now walk free from the oppressors.” Other new lyrics comment on the “subversive traitors” of the breakaway region of Abkhazia.

One senior American State Department official stationed in nearby Yerevan was not ready to concede the song to the Georgians. He noted that Charles had been feted by other officials in the Uzbek capital of Dushanbe. Says the official: “It is believed that Mr. Charles could, given the proper incentives, have Uzbekistan on his mind.”

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