NEW YORK, NY - 2/26/08 - The editors of Schoolhouse News shamelessly featured a photograph of Paris Hilton in a bald-faced attempt to attract readers to their website today. The photo accompanied an article announcing that Schoolhouse News will relaunch its popular website after a long, inexplicable hiatus. In a further attempt to attract readers, the article also made references to Britney Spears, American Senior Idol, Vicki Iseman, the Ohio Debate, Rick Springfield, Bill Cunningham, Starbucks closings, Jennifer Flowers, gay sex, Prozac and Howard Stern.
VATICAN CITY, ROME - 4/19/05 - There was a moment of uncertainty in Rome today among the crowd gathered in front of the Sistine Chapel shortly after several puffs of black smoke rose from the chapel’s chimney. Black smoke indicates that the 115 cardinals locked inside have failed to elect a new pope, while white smoke signals a successful election.
But as the crowd was beginning to disperse, several shorts wisps of white smoke appeared, eliciting a collective gasp from the crowd and then a hush as all eyes turned to the chimney, waiting for a more conclusive sign. Then, a small, sleepy groundhog emerged. Some in the crowd began to cheer, while others strained forward, looking for the groundhog’s shadow. Shortly thereafter a small flock of white doves flew out, followed by an eagle with an asp in its beak. This was followed by a flying pig and then several short puffs of grey smoke, whereupon some in the crowd broke into a rain-dance, while others began wailing and speaking in tongues. Finally, wearing identical white tuxedos, author Philip Roth and entertainer Dick Clark climbed out and stood atop the chimney. While Mr. Roth frantically waved a white flag, Mr. Clark solemnly held up two glowing lanterns. The two then kissed and threw rice, condoms and mardis gras beads at the crowd below.
There followed utter pandemonium. Some in the crowd clapped and sang, while others lay on the ground and clawed at their chests. “God damn it!” exclaimed Reilly Kilgartengen, 37, a priest from Ireland, as he flipped open his cell phone to call home. “My hotel is 460 euros a night!”
Asked for comment, Vatican officials said they would begin work to determine the meaning of the signal and would release a detailed statement later today.
LOS ANGELES, CA - 3/30/05 (AP) - A spokesman for Fox Entertainment officially announced today the network’s decision to launch a senior version of American Idol. Currently, the maximum age for the popular talent show is twenty-eight. Ed Meeker, Senior Vice President of Programming at Fox, said the move was due in large part to the considerable interest generated last year when an internet website posted a fictitious news article announcing plans for a senior version of the contest, which culminates in an exclusive recording contract for one lucky singer.
Mr. Meeker, who was quoted in the original article, remembers that his first reaction was mixed. “I was not amused. I suppose it was meant as a joke, but it wasn’t funny, and it misled a lot of people, especially the elderly, and also I thought it was amusing.” Though fictitious, Mr. Meeker now realizes that the article was a sort of blessing in disguise. “We really had no idea that so many senior citizens had such a strong desire to see a senior version of the show – it was a real shocker.”
Readers began sending comments and letters to the website’s publisher, John Clement, who forwarded them on to Fox via telepathy. Soon, the website’s staff concluded that more articles about a senior version of American Idol had the potential to raise its readership, and that was when Fox decided to give the idea serious consideration.
Auditions are scheduled to be held towards the end of the year. Seniors who wish to audition for the show must be between the ages of twenty-eight and thirty-five.
WASHINGTON, DC - 3/10/04 - Following public criticism from Senator John Kerry that the Bush administration was in effect "stonewalling" the federal panel investigating the September 11 attacks by stipulating a one-hour limit for questioning, the White House announced Tuesday that it would no longer insist upon the one-hour limit, but stipulated that Mr. Bush would provide all his answers in the form of mime and interpretive dance.
The White House has had a strained relationship with the commission, known formally as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, or NCOTAUTUS, as it is never referred to, since Congress created it in 2002 over the initial objections of the Bush administration. There have been repeated disputes with the White House over the panel's access to classified documents and to witnesses, including the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.
Mr. McClellan indicated on Tuesday that the White House would not reconsider its refusal to allow Ms. Rice to testify, as the panel has requested, and would allow Mr. Bush's questioning to be conducted only by the commission's chairman and vice chairman, instead of the full ten-member panel. He added however that the president was looking forward to testifying, and was eager to provide any information that might shed light on the commission's investigation. "He has been prancing about the White House in his new tights for days," Mr. McClellan said. "He is very excited."
The commission has also scheduled private interviews with former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore, who have agreed to meet with the full panel for as long as they are needed and to answer all questions orally.
12/4/03 WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Koto Industrial of Taipei, Taiwan, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, today announced a recall of more than a million "string-to-string" miniature Christmas light sets because of an error contained in a health warning on the exterior packaging. The warning reads: “The coated electrical wire of this product contains lead, a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm -- please lick hands thoroughly after handling.” Lee Chin Bao, a spokesperson for the company, said that consumers should wash, not lick, their hands thoroughly after handling. He added that consumers should never, as a general rule, lick their hands thoroughly.
The lights are being sold at Eckerd, Kmart, Revco, Walmart and other retail stores nationwide.
9/24/03 Philadelphia, PA -- A new study released today by the Pew Foundation and conducted by Dr. Walter Wiznowski of Princeton University suggests that there is good and solid evidence that you are a complete and utter idiot. The three-year study, which was conducted without your knowledge and with the cooperation of your friends, family and co-workers, is part of a comprehensive effort by the world at large to conspire against you in every way possible.
While the results of the study are generally agreed upon by everyone you know, Wiznowski says that a good measure of caution is advised, as studies of this kind are not always accurate.
“Unfortunately, a researcher’s own personal demons can often make their way into the results of a study,” Wiznowski told a group of reporters assembled at your front door. “In this case, the person who headed the study may feel that his own intellect is lacking, or he might find some sort of satisfaction in insulting another person’s intelligence.”
When Dr. Wiznowski was reminded that it was he who had conducted the study, he rolled his eyes and said, “Duh.”
It is not yet known how the news that you are an idiot will affect your life in the long-term. Wasting time on the internet, you could not be reached for comment.
9/23/03 Washington, D.C. -- A study published in the current issue of Geophysical Research shows that the recent and alarming increase of democratic presidential candidates has led to an accumulation of heat-trapping gases and the breakup of a 3,000 year old ice shelf in the Arctic Ocean.
“Carol Moseley Braun’s bid for the presidency is just the tip of the iceberg, but it may well be a death knell for human existence as we know it,” said Dr. Warwick F. Vincent, a biologist specializing in polar ecology at Laval University in Quebec and one of the authors of the study. “We’re seeing a disturbing increase in human activity as a direct result of her announcement, particularly from criticism and ridicule of her campaign in the media.” He added, “The hot air from Judy Woodruff alone is sufficient to produce a significant climactic change -- she should be carefully monitored.”
Many Washington insiders say that it is premature to blame Carol Moseley Braun for everything that is wrong with the world. One presidential candidate, who asked that his name not be used, said that a lot of hot air was coming out of the Lieberman and Kerry campaigns, but could not be more specific.
Ms. Braun, who remains shamefully low in the polls 14 hours into her doomed candidacy, was bravely optimistic. “I can fix the mess they have created because I am practical,” she said. “I am not afraid of partnerships and I am committed to making the world a better place for our children."
9/12/03 Akron, OH - Monsanto Co. has reported that sales of its glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup have soared since the company began marketing its controversial "Roundup ready" seed in 1996. Crops grown from the genetically modified seed are resistant to Roundup, allowing farmers to use more of the chemical without fear of crop damage.
But many who have experienced prolonged exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides, including farm workers and neighbors of commercial growing fields, have long complained of a number of adverse health effects, prompting industry researchers to seek a safer alternative.
Today, Ovext Industries, a leading pharmaceutical developer, announced what may well be a far-reaching solution. In a press conference at the company's headquarters in Akron, Ohio, the company's CEO and president Randall Maulsby told reporters that Ovext had applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval of Vexium, an over-the-counter oral drug which, when administered to pregnant women in the third trimester, imparts glyphosate immunity to the fetus, making it virtually Roundup ready.
"This is a milestone for Ovext Industries' developing franchise in pre-natal care," said Maulsby. "This development is further substantiated through our collaboration with Nestle, which will provide us an unlimited ability to distribute Vexium worldwide should the need arise in the future." Nestle is the world's largest food producer, with satellite operations throughout the civilized world and also France.
While special interest groups worry that the creation of a Roundup ready generation could have potentially harmful and irreversible genetic repercussions in the future, food manufacturers have hailed the drug as a much-needed solution to a generally unknown but serious health risk. Symptoms of overexposure to Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides include gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, vomiting, nausea), skin problems (blisters, pustules), eye problems (burning, conjunctival infection, pruritus), respiratory diseases, fever and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer. But preliminary studies conducted by Ovext in late 2002 show that children whose mothers took Vexium during pregnancy could consume unlimited amounts of Roundup in liquid form without significant contraindications. Side effects were rare and included gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, vomiting, nausea), skin problems (blisters, pustules), eye problems (burning, conjunctival infection, pruritus), respiratory diseases, fever and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer. The company also warns that pregnant women and people with white blood cells should consult a doctor before taking Vexium.
Ovext Natoscience, Inc., a subsidiary of Ovext Industries, and Monsanto will co-promote Vexium in the United States once approved by the FDA as part of a long-term strategic alliance between the two companies. Along with its neo-natal products, Ovext also currently markets a line of aftermarket fuel additives in the U.S. and Canada.
9/8/03 Hollywood, FL – A Philadelphia man was arrested earlier this week in Hollywood, Florida, on charges that he used misspellings of popular internet domain names to lure children to pornographic and sexually suggestive websites. John Zuccarini, 53, admitted that he specifically targeted children because they are more likely to make spelling errors when searching the web.
Federal agents were alerted when it was discovered that more than 40 variant spellings of popstar Britney Spears’ website were registered in Mr. Zuccarini’s name. These misspellings led children to websites that feature sexually explicit photographs of young women, instead of the legitimate website which features sexually explicit photographs of Ms. Spears.
If convicted, Mr. Zuccarini could face a maximum sentence of four years in jail and fines up to $250,000. Ms. Spears, who made headlines this month when she shared an open-mouth kiss with Madonna on the MTV Music Awards, could not be reached for comment.
9/4/03 Cincinnati, OH -- Fear and doubt rocked the collectibles market earlier this week when scientists at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory made public a study that reports a one in 909,000 chance that a newly detected asteroid will strike the Earth on March 21, 2014. QQ47, as the asteroid is known in the collectibles and antiques market, is 1.2 kilometers in length and traveling through space at 120,000 kilometers per hour. If a collision were to occur, it would release energy roughly eight million times the power of the Hiroshima bomb, enough to virtually evaporate all collectible items on the planet.
“While the collection of pet rocks has remained stable, we’re seeing a dramatic decline in the trade of soft goods like antique photos, books, letters, stamps, and fabrics,” says John Gallagher, Director of the National Auction House in Cincinnati, Ohio. “The pottery, crystal-ware and porcelain figurine markets are virtually shattered,” he added, “and we don’t have a lot of confidence about what the future holds.”
On the bright side however, analysts point out that in the last several days, buyers are showing an increased interest in less conventional collectibles, such as spears, gas masks and narcotic drugs.
8/27/03 Washington, DC – The Supreme Court ruled today that a 5,300 pound stone carving of the Ten Commandments can stay in the rotunda of the Alabama State Judicial building where it was installed by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore two years ago. The monument recently sparked a growing nationwide debate over the separation of church and state when a federal court ruled it violated the First Amendment of the Constitution and ordered its removal. In a brief speech today, Moore told a cheering crowd of some 300 protestors that their prayers had been answered. “Today’s ruling is a victory for good people, for God-loving Christians all over the world, and for the almighty Lord himself,” Moore said as the crowd chanted “God is number one!” and waved banners.
But in what is being hailed by many as a far reaching resolution and criticized by others as extreme, the Court also called for the immediate removal of the entire state of Alabama. Shortly after the ruling was announced, federal agents blocked off Alabama state borders with metal barricades and all outgoing flights were temporarily suspended. Alabama Governor Bob Riley immediately issued a statement calling for calm, saying that the barricades were erected to prevent Alabama residents from falling off the edge of the state when it is airlifted out of the country later this week.
In a White House briefing, Secretary of State Colin Powell responded to questions about where the state will be taken. “We’re in talks with countries where religious freedom is less a matter of public debate,” he said, “including Saudia Arabia, Uzbekistan and China, but nothing’s written in stone yet.” He said it was too early to outline the logistics of the state’s removal, but said it would be swift and uncomplicated.
In the opinion on the ruling, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote, “Once the state is safely outside the borders of the United States, it will be perpetually free of the confines of Constitutional law. This court hopes that by allowing Alabama full sovereignty, questions about its religious freedom will be answered and the pejoration of our founding principles will cease.”
For more information, go to www.firstamendmentcenter.org.
8/25/03 Naples, FL -- A Florida man has reported hearing voices in his head shortly after registering on Classmates.com, a popular internet forum where users can reunite and share photos and other information with former classmates. The man, Gaye Buttlinger, said the voices started within three days of posting his current biography and have played endlessly in his head for several months. Appearing somewhat distracted, Mr. Buttlinger said he had removed his profile from the site, but that the taunting voices had continued. “God, please make them stop,” he said, clenching his teeth and beating his ears with his fists. Asked if he has always been gay, Mr. Buttlinger replied, “Shut up! You’re gay!”
Although the specific comments that Mr. Buttlinger hears in his head are not appropriate for reprinting here, they are exactly what you think they would be.
8/22/03 Anniston, AL -- In a landmark case involving approximately 18,000 plaintiffs, Monsanto Co., the world's biggest developer of pesticides and genetically engineered crops, agreed this week to pay $600 million in damages to the community of Anniston, Alabama, which allegedly suffered severe medical complications -- including cancer, liver disease, neurological disorders, and heart disease -- as a result of the dumping of toxic industrial chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The settlement is double that of the case against Pacific Gas & Electric made famous in the motion picture "Erin Brockovich."
Anniston resident Marty Rollins, who has suffered two bouts of cancer and can no longer safely grow okra, corn or greens in her garden, was relieved by the announcement. “I’m happy,” she said. “It won’t bring back our health, but it’s something.” Judge U.W. Clemons, Senior Federal Judge in Birmingham, Alabama, who presided over the case, will monitor the total clean-up of the community through a special master to be appointed within the next year.
Meanwhile, Monsanto Co. rallied in the market after the announcement, jumping from $3.81 to $26.50 on Instinet, the largest global securities broker, suggesting that even in the wake of scandal, there is no stopping the goliath corporation. Spokesperson and chairman Steve Mathieson was openly defiant in a news conference held yesterday. “People of the world, if after this you still refuse to listen,” he said, “ and still remain hostile toward Monsanto, then we will give full vent to our hostility. We will punish you seven times over for your sins and you will eat the flesh of your own sons and daughters. We will leave your corpses piled up beside your lifeless idols, and we will despise you.” Mr. Mathieson then rose into the sky, where he was joined by an army of angels. “A reign of terror shall descend on all who resist Monsanto, join or perish,” he added.
As of today, Monsanto has not admitted any wrong-doing in the case. For more information, go to Greenpeace.org.
9/20/03 Chicago, IL – Capitalizing on the success of its American Idol and American Junior series, Fox Television announced today that it will launch a new series featuring twelve senior citizens competing in a singing competition. The winner will receive a cash prize and a recording contract. TV’s Wil Wheaton, fashion designer Isaac Misrahi, and singer/songwriter Lil’ Bow Wow will judge the competition; television personality “Charo” will host.
Today’s announcement coincided with the beginning of “open call” auditions in Chicago, where 9 seniors greeted producers this morning outside the Wistell Center for the Performing Arts. First in line was 87-year-old Crystal Wilson, who traveled all the way from Philadelphia, PA, and waited in line for 46 hours for the chance to audition. “I have a feeling deep down inside that I’m gonna make it all the way,” Ms. Wilson said gleefully, referring to the flight of twenty steps into the theater. “There ought to be a ramp, but then again, this is Philadelphia.”
Rumors of the series’ development have been circulating for months, and many industry insiders have expressed doubt that the show will be able to attract an adequate portion of its target audience, namely viewers aged 14 to 36. But Ed Meeker, Senior Vice-President of Programming for Fox, is optimistic. “Charo is fun, fun, fun,” he said after the announcement. “Her sexy charm and hip outfits will show America that growing old can be hip and dangerous.” Charo, on vacation in Florida, could not be reached for comment.
8/19/03 Exton, OH -- The huge power outage which left up to 50 million people without electricity in North America last week probably started in the home of a self-proclaimed "ape-man" in Exton, Ohio, industry watchdogs said today. The man, Roger Ellsworth, a graduate of The School of Paleontology at Cambridge and the Dean of Economics at Ohio University from 1968-72, was attempting to replace a breaker in his home's electrical panel at the time of the outage. The United States and Canada have set up a joint taskforce to investigate how the mishap of one consumer may have led to such a widespread failure in the electrical grid, reaching as far north as Canada. Authorities noted that Mr. Ellsworth, who is a founding member of the Order of Originals, an Ohio-based community that attempts to live as cavemen, is not a licensed electrician. It is not yet clear whether charges will be filed, but early estimates put the total damages from the blackout in excess of 1.2 billion dollars. Meanwhile consumers are being urged to conserve electricity as parts of the United States and Canada recover from the worst power cuts in North American history.
8/18/03 Seattle, WA -- Just days after its breakthrough addition of an advanced calculator to its popular search engine, Google has announced that it will now provide answers to important personal, moral and ethical questions as part of its regular service. Keith Towerly, Executive Vice President of Research at Google, calls the development a major breakthrough for the successful internet company. Users can type in any number of personal queries, such as, "Why do I feel alone?" or "What do others think of me?" and get accurate answers in seconds.
"We use information provided by a number of sources, beginning with the base query's IP address," said Mr. Towerly in yesterday's press conference in Seattle. "Once we have that, we cross-reference and analyze personal information already stored in databases elsewhere on the internet, and then apply a behavioral model to the resulting data."
In independent tests, results have shown an accuracy level of just above 97%. The company hopes its new service will carve out a niche in the psychotherapy industry by the end of 2004.