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Friday, December 24, 2010

Word of the Day: Humanitarian

As in "Humanitarian aid," the kind of goods and services that United States companies are permitted to sell to nations that the American government otherwise sanctions (e.g., Iran, North Korea, Solipsist Headquarters ((long story))). Allowable products include such things as grains and rice to stave off starvation, as well as medicines and, presumably, some medical supplies and equipment. Oh, and, um, what else?

"[A]llowable humanitarian aid has included cigarettes, Wrigley’s gum, Louisiana hot sauce, weight-loss remedies, body-building supplements and sports rehabilitation equipment sold to the institute that trains Iran’s Olympic athletes."

Remember those tobacco manufacturers who testified before Congress that cigarettes were not harmful? Apparently, they were telling the truth! Not only are cigarettes not harmful, they're medicine! Or maybe food.

Not to worry, though: The licensing office that approves humanitarian exemptions allowing manufacturers to ship to blacklisted countries is on the case:
"Take, for instance, chewing gum, sold in a number of blacklisted countries by Mars Inc., which owns Wrigley’s. 'We debated that one for a month. Was it food? Did it have nutritional value? We concluded it did,' Hal Eren, a former senior sanctions adviser at the licensing office, recalled before pausing and conceding, 'We were probably rolled on that issue by outside forces.'”
Well, OK, what do you expect from government bureaucrats? But, look, ask the manufacturers. THEY can explain the vital role their products play in the health and well-being of innocent populations whose only crime is living under oppressive regimes:

"Henry Lapidos, export manager for the American Pop Corn Company, acknowledged that calling the Jolly Time popcorn he sold in Sudan and Iran a humanitarian good was 'pushing the envelope,' though he did give it a try. 'It depends on how you look at it — popcorn has fibers, which are helpful to the digestive system,' he explained, before switching to a different tack. 'What’s the harm?' he asked, adding that he didn’t think Iranian soldiers 'would be taking microwavable popcorn' to war."

Weapon of mallow destruction?

And if they do, we can always hope that the little kernels getting stuck between their teeth distract them long enough for our boys to finish 'em off.

(Image from Jollytime.com)

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