December 04, 2003

It's Friday morning all across this wonderful country of ours more or less, and that can mean only one thing: it's time for another breathtaking serving of Nancy Goldstein's Monkeys, Donkeys, and Junkies: a regular foray into the latest headlines concerning three of our favorite things!

Far too often we hear only the bad news concerning our friends the monkeys, so it's always heartening to hear a little monkey-related hope and healing for a change. As is often the case, we find that happy news in Thailand.
Thailand Opens First Hospital for Monkeys.

LOPBURI, Thailand - At least seven patients crowded the hospital room. Four with respiratory diseases were on the same examination table, out cold from anesthesia. Another had survived a fall from a building, and one more — hit by a car — had a broken leg.

It was a busy day at Thailand's first monkey hospital, which opened Wednesday in Lopburi, 70 miles north of Bangkok.

The 8,440-square-foot monkey hospital, located at the Lopburi Zoo, has operating, examination, treatment and admittance rooms. The $45,000 center was built with loans and donations from animal lovers.
That seems pretty cheap for a monkey hospital, doesn't it? Well, there's an old Thai saying that when life's good for the monkeys it's bad for the donkeys, and nowhere is that more true right now than in Iraq.
Life Worsens for Donkeys Under Suspicion.

Since guerrillas used donkeys to outwit the high-tech defenses of the U.S. military in Iraq, the life of the beast of burden has never been so miserable.

Attackers used donkey carts to launch Katyusha rockets at the Oil Ministry and two fortified Baghdad hotels Friday. Two other donkey carts were stopped -- one carrying more rockets, the other a donkey-bomb wired up with explosives.

Every donkey in Baghdad is suddenly under suspicion as President Bush wages a global war on terror. In a crackdown on an animal that already suffers multiple daily whippings, U.S. soldiers with automatic rifles regularly stop and search donkey carts for weapons.

Donkey owners say petrol stations have been refusing to sell them kerosene for resale since the rocket attacks. The animals salivate and wheeze with exhaustion as they pull their owners and heavy loads across the potholed streets of the Iraqi capital in a desperate search for kerosene.

And for the final stop on the MD&J tour we head to LA-via-Montreal to check in with an old reliable.
Downey Meets Fiancee on Set of 'Gothika.'

"Gothika" is a dark thriller, but the movie had a happy ending for Robert Downey Jr.: He met his fiancee on the set in Montreal. Susan Levin was a producer on the film, in which Downey co-stars with Halle Berry and Penelope Cruz.

Downey said he and Levin haven't set a wedding date; in the meantime, they're planning to spend Thanksgiving with her family.

"I'll be going to Palm Springs and I won't be getting arrested while I'm there," he joked, referring to his November 2000 arrest for drug possession at a Palm Springs resort. A judge dismissed the charges in 2002 after determining that Downey had stayed clean and sober for 14 months.

You know, two out of three hopeful stories is a new record for us here at MD&J. Be sure to check back soon as we try for three-out-of-three on another globe-spanning edition of Nancy Goldstein's Monkeys, Donkeys, and Junkies!
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