He's banned beards, gold teeth and circuses! Who is he?

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No, its *not* John Ashcroft! It's SAPARMURAT NIYAZOV, who's just come in at No. 8 in a recent list of the World's Worst Dictators, compiled by dictator-watcher David Wallechinsky in collaboration with Amnesty International, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders.

Niyazov, not to be confused with Borat of Comedy Central's Ali G show, does all the usual nasty shit that dictators get up to such as persecuting his country's ethnic and religious minorities, as well as taking US aid. But as one of the world's more messianic and colorful hard men, he also indulges himself by having months of the year renamed after his mother. He's also created a public holiday to celebrate melons. And not surprisingly all government workers are expected to memorize passages of Niyazov's book to keep their jobs. So Ashcroft, who only makes his staff start the day with compulsory prayer meetings, and only occasionally scares with renditions of his own 'inspirational songs' ain't so bad after all. The whole Dictator TOP TEN list has been published by London's Daily Mirror newspaper. Coming in at No. 1 and going up all the time is our old friend Kim Jong II, who Bush may end up bombing. That, of course would be bad news for Bill "Shut Up!" O'Reilly, who likes nothing better than to tar anyone who disagrees with him as a "friend of Kim Jong II." Kim is a monster, but also a keen movie goer, and it must surely only be a matter of time before he turns up at Sundance. According to the Daily Mirror: "Kim Jong is so obsessed with films that he kidnapped movie director Shin Sang-ok from the South in 1978, force-fed him grass and made him do a Marxist version of Godzilla."





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