Ambush at the Group of Eight
All Germany's been abuzz about the close relationship that's emerged between President Bush and Chancellor Angela Merkel . The German newspaper Bild asked last week: "What Does Bush Find So Fascinating About His Girlfriend Angela?"
And yesterday, Bild ran the front-page headline "Love Attack on Merkel," with a photo array of the Leader of the Free World, apparently thinking Merkel looked a bit tense at a G-8 meeting in St. Petersburg, giving her a quick back rub -- which Bild called a "Texas One-Second Massage" -- before taking his seat.
That's nothing compared with those towel-snapping locker room shots with his good buddy Vladimir Putin of Russia.
World Bank and Voodoo Economics
The World Bank Web site features a stunning photo array of the bank's president, Paul D. Wolfowitz , getting out of his office and traveling around the world to visit with real people in developing countries.
There are pictures of Wolfowitz in markets, schools and clinics, nearly always surrounded by smiling children. Everyone is in colorful dress and having a magnificent time. There were fine shots of him yesterday in Tanzania, and the site has wonderful pictures from Indonesia and Mexico.
Isn't it amazing how these opportunities just seem to present themselves wherever he goes? Not really. It turns out they're planned well in advance and tightly scripted. When Wolfowitz goes abroad -- with a photographer on the plane and another ready on the ground -- his itinerary often includes these set-up events of happy, smiling kids greeting him. Bank aides make sure people in suits -- who are, of course, the country officials who handle the bank's loans and actually work with these people -- are not in these shots.
Usually Wolfowitz sticks to script. In India, he was to wash his hands in the village water tap, and he did. But in Indonesia the script called for him to get down on one knee so he'd be eyeball to eyeball with a little kid, but he remained standing.
Today's tentative schedule in Benin looks especially promising for the scrapbook. "Visiting Voodoo convent at Hevie," where the bank's successful HIV/AIDS project works with the "Voodoo Cult Committee." Hevie is just outside the capital of the country where voodoo originated. The open-air gathering is expected to draw about 2,000 voodoo practitioners.
There will be "worship of voodoo by the chief priest and the adepts," the schedule says. "Likely to be colorful and a good opportunity for photos." Even the half-hour ride to the site may provide fine pics of "people going about their daily businesses."
Rice's Mideast Itinerary
Reporters are wondering exactly who Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to meet during her upcoming trip to the Middle East.
"Since she cannot speak to Hezbollah, she cannot speak to Hamas, she cannot speak to the Syrians, she cannot speak to the Iranians, that leaves only Israel and, what, Lebanon?" Agence France-Presse reporter Sylvie Lanteaume asked Assistant Secretary of State Sean McCormack . "She cannot go to Lebanon if there is no cease-fire, and you don't call [for] a cease-fire. So what is she going to do there?"
"We're going to keep you up to date on her itinerary and the timing of her travel, Sylvie," McCormack said.
Well, Rice can always hang out at the extraordinary temple in Petra, Jordan.
Latest Dallas Puzzler: Who Shot Jackson's Story?
The Dallas Morning News reported last week that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson , "like everyone else in North Texas," is considering running for Dallas mayor.
The paper reported that "Phonsie has been meeting with Republican donors" and others to test the waters. Mayor Laura Miller announced July 6 that she won't seek reelection next year.
The Morning News said Jackson had name recognition, knows Dallas and could be an "interesting" candidate. Sure would. Loop Fans may remember Jackson for having told an elaborate story last spring in Dallas to a business group about how he denied a federal contract to a bidder because the man admitted he didn't like President Bush . Turned out he made up the story.
A HUD statement yesterday said that while Jackson "loves Dallas," the "only campaigning he's planning to do in Dallas next spring is in support of the Mavericks next championship run. He is flattered by the speculation, however."
The word "no" does not appear in the statement.