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Queen Rania of Jordan has turned down several offers to publish a Hebrew version of a children’s book she recently wrote. The book, which was published in the United States by Hyperion under the title ‘The Sandwich Swap’ for children between 4 and 8 years old, was co-written with Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Tricia Tusa.

“During a promotional campaign for the book, the queen described it as the story of two girls who let the food they bring to school get in the way of their friendship. They disparage each other’s food based on their own cultural preconceptions. The two main characters, Lily and Salma, have a lot in common, but not when it comes to their sandwiches: Lily prefers the all-American peanut butter and jelly, while Salma sticks to pita and hummus.

“The two learn how to maintain their friendship, despite their cultural differences, but not without a food fight at school in which their classmates take sides. The confrontation ends, however, with a party at which the children exchange sandwiches. The book’s message touches on such issues as getting to know others, openness and multiculturalism.”

- Maya Sela, writing on “Jordan’s Queen Rania rejects offer to publish Hebrew edition of her children’s book,” on July 14 at Haaretz

“Now here’s a novel way to protest France’s proposed burqa ban: Volunteer to cover the 150 (nearly $200) fine for all women caught wearing the enveloping fabric in public. It’s a delightfully mischievous idea - if you believe, like I do, that a ban is unconstitutional. Only, who has the money for that, right? A French real estate tycoon, that’s who. Rachid Nekkaz has pledged 1 million to that very cause. He’s already set aside 200,000 of his own money and received 36,000 in outside donations. ‘I am very, very sensitive to when people start playing around with institutions and the constitution,’ he said.”

- Tracy Clark-Flory, writing on “The burqa bailout” on July 15 at the Salon blog Broadsheet

“Ernest Hemingway first attended a bullfight in Pamplona in 1923, and he did not expect to like it. ‘Most people who wrote about it condemned bullfighting outright as a stupid brutal business,’ he recalled … And the politics were all wrong. For the better part of a century, Europe’s left-wing reformers had been crusading against bullfights - they thought them inhumane, and needlessly cruel, and distrusted the public bloodlust. In the Spanish Civil War, Franco would become the great protector of the toreros, the bullfighters. The Republican armies, like the socialists before them, would storm farms that raised bulls for fighting, massacring the ranchers. ‘One less torero, one less fascist,’ proclaimed the left-wing newspapers.”

- Ben Wallace-Wells, writing on “The Death Lovers” on June 29 at the New Republic blog, the Book

Could Mel Gibson go to jail for alleged domestic violence against girlfriend Oksana Griogorieva?

“I doubt it,” says former Los Angeles prosecutor Jeffery Rubenstein. “At most, Mel will probably be charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. Oksana’s alleged injuries don’t seem to rise to a felony level and because Mel has no serious prior convictions, that’ll also lessen his chances of a felony. His alleged threats, while horrifying and completely over the top, aren’t necessarily a crime; there has to be evidence of a real intent to carry them out. If convicted, he’ll probably get probation and counseling.”

Mr. GIbson has accused his girlfriend of extortion. Could she be convicted?

“It sounds like a far-fetched accusation and more of a basic defensive reaction by his legal team,” says L.A. criminal defense attorney Trent Copeland. “Extortion will be very difficult to prove. It’s completely routine to use incriminating evidence as leverage against another in a legal proceeding. But if she’s found guilty of this, it’d be a felony, and punishment would be upwards of one year in jail.”

- Ken Lee, in People Magazine, July 18.

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