You can’t freedom-ize cow guts

The U.S. government is reconsidering its ban on Scotland’s national dish haggis.

The Department of Agriculture has shot down rumors that the sausage – made by rolling the cooked innards of a sheep (its heart, liver and lungs) in oats and pepper, then stuffing it in cow’s intestine and boiling it – will be allowed in the United States any time soon.

The Scottish delicacy has been barred from this country since the late ’80s mad cow outbreak in the U.K. Oh darn.

At the request of Scottish officials, the USDA is reviewing the risks of the dish and the ban on it, according to The Associated Press. USDA spokeswoman Lindsay Cole issued a statement saying reports that the ban will be lifted are incorrect and though the latest science is being examined, no timetable has been set for a decision. Haggis is getting another look in this country because Scottish Rural Affairs minister Richard Lochhead asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to clarify the government’s embargo, the AP reported.

“We want to allow American consumers to sample our world renowned national dish,” said Lochhead. “They should be assured Scotland has an excellent reputation in animal disease surveillance and prevention.”

Scottish haggis producers are happy at the prospect that it might be allowed in the U.S. after all these years.

“This is long overdue and I’m glad the U.S. authorities are coming to their senses,” master butcher Neil Watt of Watt the Butcher in Montrose, Scotland, told the AP. “The haggis you get in the States does not taste like proper haggis.”

Jo Macsween, director of Macsween’s Haggis in Edinburgh, believes removing the U.S. ban would be good for business and says Americans who visit Scotland are “eager to try” the national dish.

“We believe there is a big market to be tapped,” he told the AP. “Once [Americans] have tasted it, they generally love it and become enthusiasts.”

At least one American isn’t enthused about haggis, however. Former President George W. Bush told the AP he had no desire to try the sausage at the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

“I was briefed on haggis,” he said. Attaboy, George, attaboy.

But are the prison outfits colored plaid?

We’ve heard all the reports of prisoners getting totally sweet perks like cable television, satellite, game consoles and other luxuries that a lot people not in jail normally can’t afford to have. If you’re one of those people that feels righteous indignation about those events, hold onto your hat. There is a plan by the Scottish prison system to raise “literacy” and “numeracy” skills among its prison population by giving the inmates access to Nintendo DS systems. DUM DUM DUM.

The program would be tested in a small number of prison libraries and would involve literacy experts working with the prisoners. Prison officials note that inmates already have access to PlayStations, so going with the DS is seen as consistent and, perhaps, an improvement.

The devices, fitted with “brain training” software, will be put on trial on the advice of Scottish government officials who believe they will reduce the chances of the prisoners reoffending after they have served their sentences by improving their employment prospects. A government study into the education of prisoners, Learning in Custody: Report of the Offender Learning in Custody Workstream, concluded that convicts would benefit from the devices, which are currently being used in many primary schools to raise attainment.

However, not everyone is hunkey dorey with this plan. A Scottish group representing taxpayers calls the plan “ridiculous,” given that many Sottish citizens can’t even afford DSes for their kids in this current economic climate. If they stopped serving haggis, they might get somewhere,  though.