Loose Ends (9)

• Those madcap travel agents at The Nation have another excursion for you if you’re not interested in seeing the Soviet Union Russia with their unique perspective. This time The Nation wants to take you to Cuba, where “We will spend our days meeting with prominent Cuban professors, government officials, physicians, community activists, farmers, urban planners, business owners, journalists, and artists. Our evenings will be filled with exclusive concerts by renowned musicians, private showings at artists’s studios, and performances by students of Cuba’s internationally acclaimed dance institutes.”

Private showings,” eh? Clearly the Nation circle suffers from an irony-poor diet (just like most of Cuba).

The subject line of the email invitation reads, “Don’t Wait! Visit Cuba now.” The subtext is clear: Visit Cuba before it is ruined by bourgeois tourism.

• In the “Don’t try this at home” department, there’s this from the Hurriyet Daily News in Turkey:

Turkish imam suspended after ‘pieces of cucumber found in his rectum’

An imam from a Central Anatolian province has been suspended from duty after he being hospitalized with “pieces of cucumber” in his rectum.

The 39-year-old imam working in Kayseri applied to the emergency room of a hospital in the early morning hours of June 23 with severe abdominal pain and bleeding.

The doctors reportedly took pieces of cucumber out of his rectum, and the official diagnosis in the incident was “bleeding in the anus and rectum and foreign object in the rectum.”

The imam was discharged on June 24 after treatment.

After the story made it to the local press, an official investigation has been launched by the local branch of the Religious Affairs Directorate, or Diyanet, of which the imam was an employee.

He was suspended immediately.

I’m sure it was just some kind of bizarre accident in the produce aisle of the local Holy Foods market.

• Another from the “Don’t try this at home” department:

Disgraced U.N. leader John Ashe died in weightlifting accident, medical examiner rules

A former United Nations big who was awaiting trial on fraud charges died in a freak weightlifting accident, officials said Thursday.

John Ashe died Wednesday from “traumatic asphyxia with laryngeal cartilage fractures” after dropping a barbell on his neck, a rep for the Westchester County Medical Examiner’s office told the Daily News.

Ashe, 61, was working out on a bench in his Dobbs Ferry home when the deadly accident happened.

The weight of the barbell was unclear, and it was not immediately known if anyone was with Ashe at the time. . .

Ashe, a former U.N. General Assembly president, was busted by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s last year for turning his post into a “platform for profit” by accepting more than $1 million in bribes.

The alleged conspiracy involves six others including a billionaire Chinese real estate mogul, two diplomats and a humanitarian organization officer.

Hmmm. . . Not so sure I buy the “accident” account here. I’d be on the lookout for cucumber scraps.