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Vietnam moves to keep the small-chested off the road

First, they came for the small-chested people... 

A ban on small-chested people riding motorbikes is just one of the novel criteria recently proposed by Vietnam's Ministry of Health. People whose chests measure less than 28 inches would be prohibited under this new recommendation, as well as people who are too short or too thin. This proposal is meant to improve driver safety in Vietnam, which has one of the world's highest road death tolls, presumably because waifish Vietnamese are at greater risk of sustaining serious injury when in a motorbike accident.

Despite being obviously insane, the Ministry of Health's proposal could affect the travel plans of a large number of Vietnamese. Motorbikes make up 90% of the traffic on Vietnam's roads. Many Vietnamese are naturally slight, and malnutrition often stunted the growth of those born during the Vietnam War. The affair has nevertheless been great fodder for Vietnamese bloggers. "From now on, padded bras will be bestsellers," predicted Bo Cu Hung, a Ho Chi Minh City-based blogger.

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Livni plays her ace: Israel goes to elections

It's official. Tzipi Livni's promise to gather together a coalition or bust was no bluff: The Kadima party leader, who could not meet her self-imposed Sunday deadline, asked President Shimon Peres to call elections without delay.

Israel will dissolve its current government in the next few weeks and hold general elections -- originally scheduled for 2010 -- in mid February.

Though a new poll on Monday shows Livni with an edge over Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud Party leader, many aren't sure what to make of her early deadline. Was it a play to strength or a show that she just can't cut it as a unifying leader?

I'm sticking to what I said last week -- this was a bold move that illustrates, to her credit, the way Livni will wield authority as prime minister. I think Israelis will ultimately see her as a no-nonsense leader with the backbone to manage opportunists:

In the past few days it has become clear to me that the current system has led future coalition partners to make unreasonable economic and political demands," she said. "If someone is willing to sell out his principles for the job, he is not worthy of it."

Livni's comments are clearly directed at leaders of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, known for cozying up to different parties when it serves their interests. Chief among these ideologically promiscuous political players is Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the Shas party's religious leader who has tremendous sway in the party and among Israel's ultra-Orthodox community. Deflecting calls that they are responsible for the crumbled coalition, Shas party leaders are shielding themselves with Yosef's Friday decision to not join Livni's coalition.

Shas may not be part of a future governing coalition, but Yosef's role in the negotiations did earn him a spot on FP's latest list: The World's Top Religious Power Brokers. Check it out.

Photo: YOAV LEMMER/AFP/Getty Images