Did banning clove cigarettes violate trade laws?

That's what Indonesia is arguing

Indonesia says the United States is abusing health regulations to shut out clove cigarettes, known as kretek and very popular in the southeast Asian country, while allowing U.S. manufacturers to continue to market menthol cigarettes.

U.S. officials say that flavoured tobaccos risk attracting young people to smoking, and that the ban applies to clove cigarettes from all countries and so is not discriminatory.

A meeting of the WTO's dispute settlement body agreed to set up a panel to rule on the dispute, the sources said.

I'm not sure about the trade rules, but the clove ban does seem somewhat inconsequential. Cloves made up less than .01 of the cigarettes smoked in the U.S. in 2008, so arguing that they're a uniquely dangerous gateway for young smokers seems like a tough case to make. On the other hand, with the possible exception of our nation's MFA programs and the staff of Reason magazine, there hasn't been a whole lot of backlash.  Menthols, meanwhile, accounted for 28 percent of U.S. consumption, so banning them would presumably have been a much tougher political move domestically. 



The invasion of the presidential body-snatchers continues.

Two days ago I wrote about the recent rash of head-of-state tomb raiding. Now it seems that Dracula's homeland is getting in on the act:

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- Taking the country by surprise, forensic scientists on Wednesday exhumed what are believed to be the bodies of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena to solve the mystery of where they are truly buried.

Ceausescu ruled Romania for 25 years with an iron fist before being ousted and executed during the 1989 anti-communist revolt in which more than 1,000 people were killed....

Some Romanians doubt that the Ceausescus were really buried in the Ghencea military cemetery in west Bucharest -- including the couple's children. There is also some nostalgia for the communist period and regrets that the couple were executed on Christmas Day, 1989....

A team of pathologists and cemetery officials hoisted the wooden caskets of Ceausescu and his wife out of their graves Wednesday. They then took samples from the corpses and put them into plastic bags -- a process lasting more than two hours -- before reburying the coffins.

Somthing strange is definitely afoot.