By Brian Tracey Associate editor
msnbc.com
updated 1/25/2008 10:35:48 AM ET 2008-01-25T15:35:48
COMMENTARY

It truly takes guts to seal this deal: Scotland wants the United States to lift its ban on haggis, hoping to boost sales of the country's sheep-stomach-based national dish.

The U.S. banned imports of Scottish haggis after Britain's outbreak of mad cow disease. Scotland's government insist its haggis — which usually contains the heart, liver and lungs wrapped inside a sheep's stomach lining — is safe and wants the ban lifted.

"The Scottish government will consider engaging the U.S. government on its haggis import ban. ... It is safe or we wouldn't eat it here," said a spokeswoman. "We think there is a large market for it amongst expatriate Scots there."

She cited growing sales of tartans and the prevalence of Scottish clubs as evidence that Americans were taking greater interest in their Scottish heritage.

Haggis, a globally recognized symbol of Scotland alongside bagpipes, kilts and Scotch whisky, is an essential part of Burns Night celebrations, which on Jan. 25 commemorates national poet Robert Burns, author of "Ode to a Haggis," among other works.

We think U.S. trade officials should allow entry of entrails only on the condition that Scotland accept our exports of scrapple, Philadelphia's favorite mystery meat, along with that certain part of male cattle anatomy euphemistically known as "Rocky Mountain oysters."

Bamboozled out of billions
We love stories of bungling banks, and we thought it was hard to top last week's report that  Barclays staff had aided in the identity theft of its chairman . But apparently a French financial firm didn't want a British rival hogging the stupidity spotlight as Societe Generale reported an employee working as a futures trader had defrauded it of $7.1 billion .

France's second-largest lender said it detected the fraud — comparable to a full year of its profits in more stable times — last week as world markets began to tumble. The trader, identified as Jerome Kerviel, used his knowledge of the group’s security systems to conceal his fraudulent positions, the bank said.

After terminating the trader, Societe Generale CEO Daniel Bouton offered to resign, but the bank's board of directors declined his offer.

Yes, don't sweat it, Dan. What's a few billion between friends?

Museum could have been a blast
History could have come to life in very much the wrong way at a veterans' museum where a rocket on display for two years was discovered this week to be live ordinance.

After Allegany County authorities were notified that the Mark 1 rocket on display in Cumberland, Md., might be live, the state fire marshal's office and the FBI confirmed it was. Bomb experts removed the ordnance and rendered it safe.

The 48-inch-by-2.75-inch rocket was similar to those used on helicopter gunships during the Vietnam War, said Deputy State Fire Marshal Joseph Zurolo Jr. A local veteran donated it to the museum, which is in a chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Zurolo said.

Authorities are investigating how the man came to possess the dangerous device.

Maybe he picked it up at Wars "R" Us.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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