Maybe running, maybe not
KABUL, Afghanistan (Nov. 2) — The leading opposition candidate for the Afghan presidency was reportedly reconsidering his decision late yesterday to drop out of the run-off against current president Hamid Karzai.
“If my assassination or the murder of my every living relative were the only things to worry about, that’d be no problem,” challenger Abdullah Abdullah told reporters at his compound. “But the Americans were telling me I might have to be interviewed on ‘Fox and Friends’ or have my character questioned by the Tweeters on CNN. That is something I could not stand.”
Abdullah said he initially misunderstood the perils involved in continuing his campaign after the August vote put him in second place. International observers feared security concerns caused by a resurgent Taliban would make another round of voting difficult. Abdullah said he was more concerned about media scrutiny than he was about having his hands cut off, or his feet cut off, or both his hands and his feet cut off.
“I am a shy man who just wants to pursue his life’s work in peace, with all my appendages,” Abdullah said. “I don’t need the aggravation of being the head of a failed state, but if my people call, I will serve. Fortunately, we have no land lines in my country and virtually no wireless, so I’m not expecting too many calls.”
Abdullah said he would reach a final decision on whether or not to pursue the presidency in the next 24 hours. He characterized his “life’s work” as efforts to reform the nation’s corruption-riddled judicial system. Even the simplest administrative task tends to get caught up in a web of bribes and kickbacks, and Abdullah has worked tirelessly behind the scenes trying to repair the courts. He is also trying to have his first name legally changed to Jason.
“That whole ‘Abdullah Abdullah’ thing was just too confusing,” he said. “Everybody wants to make joke.”
The former doctor may find he has some unexpected competition if he does decide to return to the political arena. His vice-presidential running mate from the first round may also be joining the race.
Saradullah Saradullah, who describes herself as “just an everyday hockey imam,” may decide to challenge both Karzai and Abdullah. The former governor of Badakhshan province, that squiggly part in the far north of the country, said her knowledge of local tribes and customs would allow her connect with the common man. She said she could also help advance the issues of women, assuming that’s what’s scurrying around the marketplace under those burkahs.
“Plus, I have advantages I can bring in the area of foreign affairs,” Saradullah said during a satellite conference call with potential supporters. “I can see Osama bin Laden from my front porch. In fact, he’s mowing his lawn right now. Oh how I wish he would put a shirt on.”
North Korea blames WordPress
SEOUL, South Korea (Nov. 3) — The North Korean government denied charges yesterday that it was behind a series of high-profile cyberattacks last July that caused Internet outages in the U.S. and South Korea.
“The people’s glorious republic was simply trying to put up a new post on its WordPress blog, and things got a little out of hand,” said communications ministry spokesperson Joong Kim. “That HTML editor is almost as unstable as we are.”
Kim said his nation’s efforts to compose the post in a word processing program, then copy and paste it into the blog host’s upload/insert field, resulted in the first and second paragraphs running together with no break. When they tried to edit the tags, it caused U.S. Defense Department computers to crash in what’s called a denial-of-service attack.
Later, attempts by the regime’s personnel to correct their spelling of “acommodate” by adding the second “c” ended unsuccessfully when the cursor jumped one character to the right and the misspelling “acocmmodate” triggered further outages in both Washington and Seoul. Then they tried to add an image from their desktop to the end of the post, and somehow it showed up at the beginning. Then they accidentally posted a draft before it was reviewed by Premier Kim Il Sung and run through spell check.
“We meant no harm to the Social Security Administration’s check-printing programs,” Kim said. “We just wanted to tell the world about that funny thing our uncle did at the big family dinner Sunday night.”
Kim said further errors of this sort were unlikely, since the North Korean military had attached the nation’s lone laptop to a medium-range ballistic missile and launched it into the Sea of Japan in frustration.
“We’re more comfortable using giant colorful posters and banners carried by hundreds of happy schoolchildren to get our message out,” Kim said. “WordPress might be better than Blogspot, but that’s like saying our agricultural sector is better than our industrial sector. It’s no great triumph.”