The Curmudgeon


Monday, January 31, 2005

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Easily digestible facts for the modern news consumer

In the event, polling day in the Democratic Republic of Baghdad passed rather quietly. Certainly, after the long buildup of insurgent terrorist violence during the buildup, it was a relief that only 36 Iraqis were killed on the day itself - as the London Times and Australo-American Stormtrooper observed, a price well worth paying for freedom.

Deaths among real people were fewer, though probably just as heartrending for some. A helicopter crash in which 12 SAS men died was originally classified as an accident, until it was remembered that the Relative Agony Act passed two years ago forbids accidents on active duty, so as to protect personnel from the risk of substandard equipment.

But despite the threat of terrorist bombs, thousands of Baghdadis, many of them typical, braved the streets to vote.

"I'm proud to vote in the election," said Shimon as he cast his ballot. "We have very little food or uncontaminated water; the electricity is off for up to twenty hours a day; medicines are virtually nonexistent, but at least we have ballot boxes and are free."

Another, less typical Iraqi said that Saddam Hussein had kept the shops full and the power on for many years. "That was when the Americans were supporting him," she said. "So perhaps if we do as the Americans tell us today, another Saddam Hussein will come along and get things running again." But that Iraqi was a very old Iraqi and hardly typical at all.

"When I look at the ink on my finger, this is a mark of freedom," said Kassim, an entrepreneur who sees the Allied presence as a challenge and an opportunity. Many of the insurgents may see the Allies as merely foreign occupiers of "their" country, but according to Kassim, "They are wrong!" With a cheerful grin, he wished the Israelis well in their fence-building with the Palestinians.

As we walked back up the hotel driveway from the gate through which these interviews were carried out, one of the Iraqis who cannot vote even today gave us the thumbs-up and pronounced three syllables which showed that even he, at less than three years old, knew what was going on: "Em! Tee! Vee!"

Somehow, one thinks at moments such as this, somehow it must all be worth while.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

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Putting the wind up the first draft of history

The Democratic Republic of Baghdad today held the first fairly free elections in the region for some considerable time, despite the state of emergency and the terrorist actions of insurgents.

Almost half the city's population turned out to vote under the new Compulsory Freedom Acts, which were passed by the almost independent native government in order to counter the political apathy resulting from the years of oppression which preceded this century's unprecedented liberatisations.

US troops and native police were on hand to protect voters as they moved to the polling stations and cast their votes for a wide variety of candidates who will represent them in the interim constitutional discussions by voting for the 275 National Representatives who will lay the basis for a full constitution which will determine the way in which future elections take place.

A few problems have arisen owing to Iraqis' ignorance of democratic culture and the widespread shortage of upright walls on which to post leaflets, but the US ambassador, Claiborne F Minuteman, said today that the elections had gone "extremely well."

The British Prime Minister also acclaimed the results as "inspiring" and said he was confident that, whatever the problems, the Iraqi people had been given plenty of opportunity to make the right decision.

He also responded to critics who have raised doubts about the wisdom of holding the elections while the terrorist insurgency is still giving rise to acts of insurgent terrorism. The run-up to the election has been one of the bloodiest periods of the liberation, with an average of three coalition personnel being killed each day despite frequent bombing raids and other anti-carcinogenic measures.

"These elections are an important stage in finishing the job we set out to do in the region," the Prime Minister said. "The sooner Iraqis get used to exercising the human rights we have bestowed upon them, the sooner the troops can come home."

Asked whether a withdrawal was being planned, the Prime Minister said, "These elections are certainly an encouraging sign that we won't always have to be there to walk the natives through the democratic process."

Both the Prime Minister and the US Commander-in-Chief have said that troops will be withdrawn instantly at the considered request of any genuinely legitimate Iraqi government. However, the Commander-in-Chief said last week that he did not anticipate any such request. "There's still plenty of good we can do over there, and I think the moderates know that," he said.

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It isn't true yet, but it will be

Representatives of the Conspiracy of Private Interests and the International Muggers' Foundation have again asked western governments to do more to protect their organisations from the effects of anti-globalisation activists.

"Radical organisations like the World Social Forum have been allowed to demonise us for far too long," said Nigel Feasting-Piranha, the chairman of the CPI. "We are aware of poverty and we do everything we can to implement appropriate long-term solutions short of vitiating our own fiscal utility."

The World Social Forum is an umbrella organisation including a number of radical, left-wing, anarchistic, Trotskyite, anti-globalisation, civilisation-threatening groups, some of which are still legal. The IMF and CPI have attended several of their meetings in the hope of persuading activists to join them in ending poverty.

But members of the Forum continue to blame organisations like the IMF and CPI for not doing enough to help the world's poor. "We do not believe the way to end poverty is to privatise everything," one of them said.

"These people are fanatics," said IMF spokesperson Shelob Slackbeam. "If you tell them the only way to end poverty is to privatise everything, the chances are they won't believe you. What can you say to people like that?"

The IMF and CPI have both appealed to the US government to protect them from slanders issued by left-wing radicals. "It's all very well making such propaganda illegal, but the laws must then be enforced," said Mr Feasting-Piranha. "Otherwise, our good work may all have been in vain, and lots of little children with big brown eyes will die horribly from diseases we could have prevented if our feelings hadn't been hurt."

Saturday, January 29, 2005

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Futures traders wishing to profit unfairly from the revelations contained herein are invited to apply to the reporter with appropriate incentives

Several British-based credit card companies are on the verge of financial ruin, despite the recent economic upturn resulting from the linkage of the pound sterling to the US dollar.

As more and more of the world's countries outside the international community follow the trend towards investing in euros, the value of pounds and dollars has plummeted over recent years.

The British economy has not suffered unduly thanks to the Government's cutbacks on non-necessary spending such as health, homes, education, public transport, law enforcement and other areas which are now dealt with almost exclusively by the altruistic wing of the private sector.

However, credit card companies such as FreeBee, Splurgitt and Club Richard Bast have suffered because of the irresponsibility of consumers who continually run up debts which they can afford to pay back only gradually, if at all.

Other consumers use their credit cards as little as possible and never spend more than they can pay back each month, which means that the companies are unable to charge more than a minimal rate of interest.

"If there is one thing credit companies dislike intensely, it is fiscal irresponsibility," said Splurgitt spokesperson Winona Gant. Splurgitt has recently been forced to sue selected consumers for the money they owe in order to recoup its losses.

"All we did was demand instant settlement of their accounts," said Ms Gant. "Most of them didn't have the money. It seems remarkably irresponsible to spend money you don't have just because a credit card company offers to lend it to you."

Last week the Government issued a formal apology to the credit card companies and pledged to do more to counter excessive and inadequate consumer spending.

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Easily digestible facts for the modern news consumer

All of Britain's major political parties, and the Conservatives, have denied that Britain is becoming a police state, thus settling the matter beyond all possible question.

A very elderly retired policeman who is believed to be suffering from the effects of old age and is somewhat superannuated and has a couple of budgerigars had spoken of his "unease" at the extent of Britain's anti-terror laws during the weekend.

The Prime Minister was quick to refute the charge that too much power was now concentrated in the hands of the Government. "Britain has one of the longest traditions of freedom and democracy in the world," he said. "The idea that Britain could ever be a police state is as ridiculous as the suggestion that she could lose her independence to a former colony."

The leader of the opposition, Boris Johnson, agreed that Britons would always be free and that the law must inevitably facilitate the liberatory endowment of British subjects, but condemned the Government for its "slackening" of police recruitment procedures and for attempting to erode British sovereignty by failing to opt out of enough clauses in the country's various treaties with Europe.

The leader of the British Exit Europe Party, Robert Kilroy-Silk, said that civilisation itself would collapse if Britons lost their liberty, but that civilisation was indeed "in a process of radical decline" owing to the "suffocating effects of political correctness".

The retired and possibly senile policeman who made the original claim about Britain's becoming a police state is being administered special medical help. Doctors refused to comment on whether the patient had been diagnosed with political paranoia, but said that everything possible would be done to prevent his harming others.

Friday, January 28, 2005

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We regret that we cannot be held responsible if the future turns out differently due to inaccuracies in the present

The chairman of fuel consortium British Regal Oil Investments Limited has said that the capitalist system is "part of the reason" for the increase in large-scale climate-related populatory detrimentations in recent years.

In a carefully argued attack on environmental militants and other anti-globalisers, Sir Hodgkin Gluttock went on to say that there could be "no turning back to a pre-industrial golden age" and that it would be simplistic to blame environmental disasters on corporations.

Sir Hodgkin's remarks came during his address to the annual general meeting of the International Fossil Fuel Investment Executive (IFFIE), now taking place in Caracas.

"If we fail to pursue our function and make good on our investment, we fail as a corporation," Sir Hodgkin said. "If we fail to make good on our investment by all available means, we fail our shareholders, which is the one thing we cannot do."

Sir Hodgkin's remarks may have been prompted by the recent substantial extinctifications in Alaska as a result of the British tanker Flower of Kyoto running aground due to an encounter with what a spokesman called "water of an unaccustomed texture".

The laws governing corporate profit meant that it was a legal necessity for corporations to engage frequently in "acts which would not exactly do credit to a human resource extracted from the corporate context and acting in an individual capacity," Sir Hodgkin observed.

Nevertheless, he went on to sustained applause, environmental fanatics and other potential rioters had "no business whatever telling business what to do."

"The idea that we should allow non-corporate concerns to outweigh our legal obligations is of course fallacious and pernicious in the extreme," Sir Hodgkin said. "We are responsible family men, and we must continue our energetic pursuit of responsible goals in our accustomed spirit of aggressive entrepreneurialism. To do otherwise would mean the end of civilisation as we know it."

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Three times winner of the Guardian Media Group Award for Nuance

Media professionals and personalities from all sides of the political spectrum united in temporary agreement today to pay tribute to the memory of BBC television news editor Mossy Rodgers.

Mr Rodgers' manager, Boaden Crawley, said he was "a loyal subordinate with a good eye for computerised opening sequences". Mr Rodgers' contribution to the opening sequences of BBC television news bulletins would not be underestimated by future generations, Ms Crawley said.

Former BBC director general and political clairvoyant Andrew Marr also paid heartfelt tribute, saying that Mr Rodgers had "earned the heartfelt tribute of personalities from all sides of the political spectrum." As so often, Mr Marr's nose for sincerity was right on the money.

The Prime Minister said that Mr Rodgers was "basically conservative, but still a man with sufficient decency to put his own prejudices aside in attempting to combat his more passionate and opinionated subordinates."

The leader of the opposition, Boris Johnson, said that Mr Rodgers had been, despite his leftist leanings, a "moderating influence" at the "crypto-socialist BBC", while the leader of the Liberal wing of the NuLibLab coalition, Trimmer Switchett, said that "if he had a fault, it was an excessive generosity of spirit, which made him want to be all things to all humans."

Mr Rodgers' body was discovered on Tuesday, seated at his desk with an internal memorandum on impartiality in front of it. The torso was split into three equal parts and the whereabouts of the head and heart are still unknown. The coroner has recorded a verdict of death by mispromotion.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

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Easily digestible facts for the modern news consumer

International healthcare and moral reclamation giant Thrusting Therapeutics Inc. has denied that it is using medically untrained asylum seekers in British hospitals. The statement was a response to the Daily Maul's accusation earlier this week that up to 40% of the company's brain surgeons were illiterate, could not speak English and had criminal records.

The Government has contracted Thrusting Therapeutics to run many of Britain's prisons as well as the "standard class" tier of the health service, which caters to those consumers with chronic or terminal complaints who have failed to make adequate provision for private care.

The Maul piece alleged that Thrusting Therapeutics was deliberately using incompetent hospital staff as a "statistics landfill", in defiance of Government guidelines which advise against such activities and warn that they may not be altogether desirable in certain situations.

A statistics landfill, or "number hole", is the practice of deliberately bringing about an undesirable situation so as to have a ready explanation for any problems encountered by the company. "Because of the lack of appropriate selection procedures to prevent admission of terminal cases, many patients die in standard class hospitals," the Maul pointed out.

This can lead to an unfavourable position on the league tables and a potential drop in profits for the company. According to the Maul, the presence of incompetent staff provides a handy pretext for the high death statistics, which can be "buried" by instituting some token disciplinary procedures, without costing the company too much money. Hence the term, statistics landfill.

"They just let these illegal immigrants out on probation, allow them to claim benefits at the taxpayer's expense, slap a white coat on them and use them in hospitals," said Maul editor Bodger Swilbrite today. "The company doesn't have to pay for skilled labour, the illegal immigrant gets to stay in the country and not go back somewhere where he might have to work for a living, and everybody's happy except the piles of dead patients in the corridors."

Pausing only to wipe away the foam, Mr Swilbrite continued, "Corridors which haven't been properly cleaned because the staff best fitted for the job have all gone off to become brain surgeons. There are five billion poor people in the world, you know. It is regrettable, but England is a small island and cannot provide for all of them."

In its statement today, Thrusting Therapeutics denied the Maul's charges. "Our moral reclamation institutes have no asylum seekers in residence," said spokesman Turbot Huxter. "Our hospital staff are subjected to the most meticulous vetting procedures that are consistent with good financial practice and the well-being of some of the patients."

It was true that residents from the company's moral reclamation institutes were working in hospitals, Mr Huxter said. However, contrary to the story in the Daily Maul, there were no brain surgeons among them and the presence of half a dozen compulsive serial killers in the terminal wards was purely for non-statistical purposes, Mr Huxter said.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

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Making the present look like paradise

The Prime Minister has joined the US Commander-in-Chief in welcoming the German government's annual avowal of collective guilt for Nazi atrocities three-quarters of a century ago.

Speaking at a memorial service for the six million people and five million other ranks who died in the Holocaust, the German foreign minister Joachim Ringenhand said that all Germans had a "special responsibility" to fight anti-semitism.

The German chancellor, Gerhard Schlagbrust, echoed Mr Ringenhand's comments in Berlin this evening. "We must never again become so complacent that Jews can be detained without charge, locked up without trial, subjected to humiliating or degrading treatment or simply murdered," he said.

The Prime Minister today applauded their remarks, and expressed his "gladness" at the opportunity which the memorial service afforded all Europeans to reflect on who won the war.

Speaking for the US Commander-in-Chief, who is in his holiday bunker at Basra, Tennessee, Attorney General Holzkopf Gonzales welcomed what he called "an encouraging ideational progressivity" from the centre of Old Europe.

Mr Gonzales was referring to the Franco-German bloc's opposition to the war to rescue Iraq from the dictator Saddam Hussein early this century, which resulted in George W Bush famously tagging them as "Old Europe" and their subsequent isolation from the international community along with much of the rest of the world.

Mr Gonzales said he was "gratified" at Mr Schlagbrust's acknowledgement of collective German guilt for Nazi atrocities, and that he hoped this "perspectival re-focusing" could soon lead to a re-think on European opposition to the international community's peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East.

"Once collective guilt is recognised as a fact, there should be no difficulty in recognising the necessity for collective punishment," Mr Gonzales told reporters. "We all know that some European countries have been inclined to drag their feet a little about removing outdated restrictions on modern counterinsurgency measures, so let's hope this is the first stage in a general revaluation of those Geneva things."

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

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News so new it hasn't happened yet

Native police units in the Democratic Republic of Baghdad have captured a "significant sublieutenant" of the terrorist organisation al-Qaeda, the Republic's president stated today.

Al-Qaeda, the shadowy Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group which includes all other shadowy Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups except those which are not included, carried out the terrorist attack on America on 11 September 2001, when America was attacked by terrorists.

The shadowy Islamic organisation is also thought to be behind much of the insurgent fundamentalist terrorism in the Middle East. The run-up to the elections has been fraught with Islamic violence and intimidation, despite the presence of a quarter of a million UN peacekeepers including more than 200,000 from the United States, 35,000 from Britain and about 10,000 from lesser nations.

Amazingly, the capture took place with only a week to go before the Democratic Republic goes to the polls in what are very nearly the first fairly democratic elections in the region's history.

The Baghdad government's score of terrorist captures often goes up significantly with an election in the offing, prompting concern in the US and Britain that the native police are not quite giving of their best at other times. However, the president was quick to address such concerns in today's statement. "This is just one more proof," he said, "that the best antidote to the cancer of terrorism is the radiation treatment of non-depleted democracy."

The British Minister of Culture, Waynette Tunstall-Turnbull, who is in Baghdad giving advice on the setting-up of impartial broadcasting services, said that the Iraqi police had done "a splendid job."

Asked whether she thought the terrorist would be executed, Mrs Tunstall-Turnbull said, "We must hope that the civilised values our intervention has fostered will eventually prevail, but at the same time the ways of other cultures must be respected."

She also endorsed the president's words about the effect of democracy. "Every time there's an election here, it seems another high-ranking terrorist gets captured," she said. "Clearly, democracy is the poison which brings these rats out of their holes."

The US Ambassador to Iraq, Claiborne F Minuteman, expressed similar sentiments. "These guys are so unacclimatised to liberatory phenomena that the whiff of an election just makes them go hogwild," he said.

The captured terrorist, who cannot be named for copyright reasons, is thought to have been handed over to US peacekeepers, whose info-extractive prisoner interaction techniques are less likely to be bio-detrimental to the subject than the methods of the native police.

Monday, January 24, 2005

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Balanced news from right on the fence

Climate change may soon be out of control unless the international community can pull together, a senior figure in US diplomacy warned today.

In a strongly-worded article for the Washington Post-Democracy, Dr Altair-Voyager Rice, who served as secretary of state under George W Bush, has called on the present administration to do more to bring the international community together in positive action to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Dr Rice's statement is thought to have been prompted by last week's disaster at the Cheneyburg Winter Funland resort on the Arctic Sea. The resort, where Lord Blair of Belmarsh spent a water-skiing holiday only last year, collapsed into the water as a result of unforeseen rates of melting in the supporting ice. No Britons or famous people were hurt.

The former secretary of state compared reactions to the recent Asian earthquake, in which many Britons and at least one famous person's relative perished, with reactions to the Winter Funland disaster. "It is almost tragically ironic that the casualties resulting from an act of God receive more publicity and financial help than a reputable company which has suffered considerable losses through a man-made phenomenon," she wrote.

America would have to "exert the full potential of our powerful potency" to bring other nations into line, Dr Rice continued. "We must do everything we can by peaceful means, but if necessary we must use all means necessary to get China to clean up its act," she concluded.

China, a nuclear power which massacred its own students in 1989, has been in a process of rushed industrialisation for nearly two decades, and is thought to be the fastest-growing user of fossil fuels in the world. Fossil fuel utilisation can cause climate change unless countered by appropriate freedoms for business activities and installation of appropriate cistern appliances by the general public.

The Commander-in-Chief has so far given no official reaction to the statement, but spokesperson Stoke Smacksville said that the White House was "grateful for the perspective contributed by Dr Rice's considerable experientiality."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

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We regret that we cannot be held responsible if the future turns out differently due to inaccuracies in the present

The Prime Minister today gave a barnstorming speech defying the charge that his Government is simply "Thatcherism lite".

Addressing a gathering of NuLabLib colleagues and possible Conservative defectors in the Bill Gates Conference Palace at Uttoxeter, the Prime Minister defended his record as "building on the legacy of Lord Blair of Belmarsh."

Lord Blair, who was not present at the conference, said he was "touched" at the party's confidence in him, and said he would always be ready to resume the burden of office should the mantle descend upon him.

The Prime Minister set out what he described as NuLabLib's "remarkable achievements", made all the more remarkable by the fact that they took place against a background of conflict and terrorism. "What many people do not realise, because they are so well protected thanks to our identity-card policy and other anti-terror measures, is that there is actually a war on," he said.

"This war has been going on for many years - ever since America was ruthlessly attacked by terrorists in a ruthless terrorist attack - and may continue for many years more," he went on. "But the fact that most of the public is unaware of it for much of the time, except when journalistically incentivised to lynch a Muslim or two, is a tribute to our preventive measures."

The Prime Minister gave a list of Lord Blair's achievements, including the introduction of university fees, the pioneer efficientiation of the Healthy Britain Business Initiative (then known as the National Health Service), the streamlining of the post office and civil service, and the "vigorous prosecution", with American help, of the war on terror.

The achievements of Lord Blair were the foundation of the present Government's achievements, the Prime Minister said. The introduction of bank-loaned education vouchers, and the Protective Insurance Initiative, whereby the cumbersome National Insurance scheme was streamlined and then co-opted to pay for anti-terror measures, were only a small sample of the Government's remarkable record, he said.

"The Thatcher government left power in 1997, before the horrific terrorist attack on America, yet it would never have dared to push through reforms with our degree of dynamism and entrepreneurial testosterone," the Prime Minister concluded.

"If they had introduced our security measures, they would have been accused of bringing about a racist police state. If they had introduced our public health measures, they would have been accused of selling off the health service. And if they had introduced our education measures, they would have been in power a lot longer than they were."

News 2020

It isn't true yet, but it will be

The US Government has once again called on the self-proclaimed Iranian government in exile to surrender itself to a fair trial. The Commander-in-Chief warned the militant Islamic group that they had "nothing to gain from hiding in caves".

Iran has been occupied by American, British, Israeli and Uzbek troops since the invasion more than a decade ago. The United States had accused Iran of building nuclear weapons with which to threaten the almost non-nuclear states of America and Britain, and the officially possibly-nuclear state of Israel.

The search for nuclear weapons in Iran was officially called off only eighteen months after the invasion, so there is still no definite information about the nuclear threat from the country. However, most experts believe that Iran's nuclear arms programme has been successfully pre-empted.

The Iranian government fled before the terrible beauty of the invasion and its whereabouts are currently unknown. Various locations in Syria and Lebanon were bombed in the aftermath of the invasion in the hope of pre-empting their use as bolt-holes; but the effectiveness of aerial disinsurgentisation measures is still a point of some debate between the military and political authorities.

Intelligence sources have long suspected that the ex-governmental Iranians are in hiding somewhere in the Middle East. It is believed that some of them may have assumed false identities and may be posing as refugees or members of other local professions. Law-abiding citizens of the region have been advised to emulate coalition policy by keeping a benevolent eye on their neighbours.

"These people are cowards and fanatics who have a savage hatred of everything we hold dear," said the Commander-in-Chief today. "They cannot stand up to a fair fight, so they choose to hide in caves and manipulate suiciders like straw men from behind closed doors."

Despite their hatred of democratic values, said the Commander-in-Chief, the terrorists would ultimately benefit from western attitudes whether they liked it or not: "We promise them a fair trial if they give themselves up, and an even fairer one if they give each other up," he said.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

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Futures traders wishing to profit unfairly from the revelations contained herein are invited to apply to the reporter with appropriate incentives

A "truly evil young man" has been sentenced to life imprisonment in a high security correctional facility for what the presiding judge referred to as a "truly evil" crime.

The young man, who cannot be named because the owners of the facility, Incarceration and Moral Reclamation International, Inc., hold the copyright as from the moment of sentencing, murdered his girlfriend two years ago in what Mr Justice Wyndpype referred to as a "truly evil" fashion. They were both 15 at the time.

"You are a genuinely wicked young man who has been found guilty of a truly evil crime," said the judge. "Had you been over twenty-one at the time you committed the murder, it might have been understandable, but society cannot afford to tolerate teenage murderers any more than it can afford to give moral sanction to teenage mothers."

The judge went on to comment that "the answer to evil young men such as yourself is to bring back National Service," which drew applause from the Press gallery.

Relatives of the victim, who cannot be named because her parents hold all the rights to her story as from the discovery of the body, said they were "delighted" at the verdict.

"He is certainly an evil young man and she was an angel on earth and our only regret is that he can't be strung up by the scrotum and left to dangle from a lamp-post till he rots," said the family's lawyer, Peregrine ffoetid-Pocksyle QC.

Mr Justice Wyndpype spoke for five hours before being carried out in a basket for a well-earned rest. He is expected to be back on duty by tomorrow.

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All the fun of the future without the pain of living there

The US Commander-in-Chief and his entourage were relaxing at several parties last night after the annual reiteration of his inaugural vows.

Despite the state of emergency, the Homeland Constitution insists that the Commander-in-Chief must "stand before his people" and invite their approval of his continuation in power.

Accordingly, the Commander-in-Chief, standing before a crowd of tens of thousands, was administered the oath of office by the Chief Justice, Antonio Cotton Mather Scarpia, whom he appointed only last month.

The security forces received some criticism because of the fact that the nearest free speech zone, where mild protest can be registered so long as it does not cross the bounds of un-Americanism, was only five miles from the Commander-in-Chief's podium.

However, security chief Chuck Nanna was confident that the measures would suffice. "There's fourteen thousand plain-clothes security guards in the crowd, along with the twenty thousand in uniform," he said. "There's also two million dollars' worth of balloons floating above the city, which will act as barrage balloons should any of the protesters have any missile-launching weaponry concealed on them."

All in all, said Mr Nanna, "in our opinion the protesters do not constitute an excessive degree of danger of emperilment."

In his inaugural speech, the Commander-in-Chief vowed to continue the fight against unpleasantness wherever it was found. "Democracy cannot truly flourish, even in advanced civilisations, so long as terrorism prevails elsewhere," he said. "In order for the truth to triumph, the lies must first be rooted out wherever they may be."

Despite the misgivings of those who would prefer to see America revert to an isolationist, inward-looking nation whose people's tax money "got poured down some black hole of welfare," he said, the US had to live up to its responsibilities towards the rest of the planet.

"To the impoveratised but entrepreneurial; to the fearful and to those suffering violence; and above all to those who wish to be free but are as yet undemocrified, we say only this: America will never leave you alone," he concluded.

Friday, January 21, 2005

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Bringing you closer to the future

The Ministry of Freedom has announced a new package of measures to deal with offensive internet sites and unsolicited mail. The initiatives will supplement and extend the protective measures initiated by the then Prime Minister, Lord Blair of Belmarsh, during his groundbreaking third term in office, said Minister of Freedom Bowdler Squabley.

"The measures will be strong and strict, yet fair and flexible," Mr Squabley said. "They will be tough but just, easily comprehensible yet comprehensively thorough. They will protect the public's peace of mind without endangering free speech; they will protect the interests of advertisers without offering solace to antisocial elements."

Mr Squabley then gave further details of each of these points. The Government had attempted and achieved a balance between strength and strictness which was fit for a modern society, appropriate to one of the world's greatest democracies and certainly far better than anything the opposition could come up with, he said.

The fairness and flexibility of the laws would be a joy to behold and a considerable source of wonderment to any unprejudiced observer, while the toughness, justice, comprehensibility and comprehensihivitality of the measures would suffice in all respects to bring about the total and complete elimination of all undesirable electronic communications and the total and utter cleanliness of the British internet within a very reasonable space of time, Mr Squabley stated.

The measures will aim to prevent unsolicited electronic mail via the upgrading of monitoring capabilities and the further deregulation of the server market, the minister said. The law will also entitle all customers to expect any queries regarding services to be dealt with in less than the time they had previously considered excessive. "Maximum flexibility combined with reasonably effective consumer care," would be the watchword, Mr Squabley said.

News 2020

It isn't true yet, but it will be

The Israeli government's plans to counteract the country's gradual decrease in population have run into more trouble, as the opposition Likud party says it will oppose the Demographic Enhancement law when it comes before the Knesset next month.

The number of people in Israel has been falling steadily for decades, and many are worried that if the trend continues, there will not be enough Israelis to form a multitude, as laid down by God to Moses.

Amazingly, despite the cramped conditions in the megacamps, the Palestinians have continued to breed. The government's Demographic Enhancement plans provide for the utilisation of this breeding capacity for the purpose of continuing Israel's fight for survival.

"Selected neonatal units will be taken from the Palestinian sectors and educated to become Jewish citizens," said Israeli sanitation minister Jephthah Storch. "They may not ever become first-class Jewish citizens, of course, but Abraham was father to the Arabs as well as the Jews, so we should be able to raise them up to a reasonable standard."

The beneficiaries of the law would probably grow up to be menial workers, he added. "Labourers, janitors, perhaps even security guards," said Mr Storch. Such jobs were originally done largely by Arab workers, but the security situation has meant that Israel can no longer afford to employ them.

The right-wing parties, however, are outraged at the idea. "This is simply the so-called Palestinian right of return by the back door," said Knesset member Binyamin Rantinyahu. "The government is opening the door to incubate terrorism and sabotage throughout the country for the next generation and beyond. Terrorism is in these people's blood, or we would have had peace long ago."

Opinion on the street in Tel Aviv tends to agree with Likud. "The last thing Israel needs," said Israeli citizen Dolf Schickelgruber, "is an influx of foreign immigrants."

Thursday, January 20, 2005

News 2020

Balanced news from right on the fence

Violence flared in Mecca yesterday as militant Muslims attacked the local branch of Macdonald's, throwing stones through windows and breaking several before the franchise holders managed to raise the shields.

Although Macdonald's is popular with local democratising forces, the restaurant has failed to gain much headway in attracting custom either from the natives of Mecca or from the millions of Islamic pilgrims who arrive in the city every year.

Muslims believe it incumbent on them to visit Mecca at least once in their lives and worship a black stone covered with a cloth. According to many reputable religious figures in Britain and America, this is an error on their part.

The black stone is the last survivor in a collection of over 300 sacred stones, which was attacked and destroyed in the seventh century in an early act of Muslim terrorism.

Some Muslims believe that Macdonald's has no place in the city, and a fanatical minority have made several attempts to destroy the restaurant or threaten its owners.

"Perhaps we shouldn't have set up the place quite so close to this shrine thing of theirs," said general manager Baldwin Mortimer. "A lot of them seem to think there's pork or something in our burgers, which shows you they're a little behind the times around here."

But despite his attitude of neighbourly understanding, Mr Mortimer is indignant at the violence. "We're just a restaurant, for Christ's sake," he said. "It's ironic that these are Muslims - the very people who say they don't have freedom in America, yet they come over here and deny Americans the freedom to provide them with food."

As a result of the violence, the Mecca branch of Macdonald's has had to become one of the best defended restaurants in the world, with inch-thick metal shielding fitted to every vulnerable spot. The staff are armed and trained by the US Army, and are ready to deploy their state-of-the-art weapons at a moment's notice. Although a number of terrorists have been shot over the years, the restaurant has suffered no unscheduled staff losses.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

News 2020

We regret that we cannot be held responsible if the future turns out differently due to inaccuracies in the present

Britain's most prominent general has condemned the "inexcusable indiscipline" of the three private soldiers accused of utilising specialised interrogation techniques without due authorisation or expertise.

The three rotten apples, who cannot be named until their dishonourable discharge has been finalised, are being tried by court martial for the alleged humiliation and physical abuse of several Iraqis.

They also took photographs of their activities, which news media all over the civilised world have declined to publish on the grounds that they are too disturbing for consumers.

General Sir Godolphin Gillibrand Goodyear-Dirigible, DSO, who at 106 is Britain's second longest-serving army officer, said today that the soldiers' behaviour was unacceptable in a civilised army.

"Young people today have simply no conception of what a soldier's job really entails," the general said in an outspoken statement. "So many of them join up for the glamour, the power and the blowing things up ... It's difficult for them to adjust to mundane matters like peacekeeping duties and handing out sweets to juvenile foreigners."

Interrogation techniques, particularly of the more pro-active kind, should be left to the experts, the general said. "And, of course, the presence of cameras is wrong, quite wrong. I wouldn't like to pre-empt the judgement of the court, but I shouldn't be surprised if they consider the photographs a rather serious mistake," he continued.

The general's statement ended with a plea for the British army to remember its "great traditions of honour and glory: the persistence of Douglas Haig, the passion of Bomber Harris, the gallantry of all our great campaigns against the fuzzy-wuzzies."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

News 2020

Five times winner of the BBC Award for Nautical Non-Destabilisation

Britain is in danger of becoming a culture of "spin patients", a report by the National Institute for Political Studies said today.

The independent think-tank, which receives financial backing from both major political parties, the Conservatives and the main news agencies, says that the public must take a "substantial proportion" of the blame for the state of Britain's political culture.

"Political consumers today are not nearly as active as they used to be," said researcher Mogadon Twiglett. "Membership of political parties has been falling consistently for decades. Membership of pressure groups - the legal ones at least - is even lower."

Voter participation in national elections has also reached a low point, the report says. Even the installation of domestic voting machines which make it possible to vote without leaving the house, and which emit a variety of patriotic melodies to remind consumers to exercise their democratic rights, has made little difference.

"It is possible that the media must take some of the blame," said Guardian columnist Preston Kettle. "Reporters who take pride in doggedly presenting unbiased, non-opinionated news stories may be barking up the wrong tree. People are so used to being spoon-fed by us in the media that they may not be able to digest the undiluted facts."

Another problem may be that the media spend too much time reporting on traumatic events which cause consumer upset without facilitating effectively targeted action.

"Reports of earthquakes in Asia or another urban terrorist enclave being de-rodentialised may be all very well," said columnist Bunter Maudling; "but since nothing can be done about any of it, I sometimes wonder why we bother. Perhaps the serious papers are becoming too serious for the market to handle; perhaps we have too few sports pages and not enough colour supplements."

Mr Kettle added that he, for one, intended to mend his ways in the future. "I'm through pandering to those bastards," he concluded.

Monday, January 17, 2005

News 2020

A future so foul it's practically inevitable

The number of teenage pregnancies in Britain rose again this month, prompting the leader of the opposition, Boris Johnson, to call for more American-style curbs on sex education in the home.

Under the US system, children are subject to random interrogation on sexual subjects by the FBI, who are empowered to arrest the parents of any who show less than the requisite degree of ignorance.

"It should be obvious even to the present government that the scourge of excessive sex education is causing more and more irresponsibility among under-sixteens and may eventually result in the collapse of civilisation," Mr Johnson said.

Sex education has been illegal for British under-sixteens for the past four years. Prior to that, it was illegal only when carried out in school without adequate supervision by a medical inspector, a vicar from at least one wing of the Church of England, and a member in good standing of the public morality association Niceness Against the Sexual Tarnishing of Youth.

Mr Johnson advocated a system more like the one operating in the USA, where students are given no training in biology at all unless they plan to take up a career in the biochemical deterrence industry. Such a system would "both save on education costs and continue to ensure Britain's place as an independent major world power at the heart of Europe and points west," Mr Johnson said.

The Home Secretary said today that almost all sex education is now carried out in the home by parents or guardians. "Such unauthorised pedagogical activities by untrained personnel are a source of major concern to the Government," he said.

The Shadow Home Secretary, Gideon Pantonsil, asked whether the Government planned to introduce US-style measures to prevent such activities, or whether it was prepared "to let this country become just another moral cesspool, like France."

Sunday, January 16, 2005

News 2020

It isn't true yet, but it will be

The commander of Special Embassies Iraq Zone United Response Executive (SEIZURE) has requested UN personnel to stop referring to Iraqi personnel by terms that might be construed as offensive by a mentality not accustomed to freedom of speech and thought.

The request referred specifically to a number of Iraqi "doctors" and "medical personnel" who have been held in custody for the past seventeen years on suspicion of being involved in the production of fake stories about weapons of mass destruction with which to beguile innocent western governments.

Iraq was invaded in 2003 because it was thought to pose a threat to world peace. However, after the invasion it emerged that the Iraqi leadership had been involved in a monumental bluff designed to shore up the country's failing international prestige and prevent the spread of freedom.

Among the nicknames given to the Iraqi custodial beneficiaries are "Chemical Walid" and "Mrs Anthrax". The US Ambassador to Iraq, Claiborne F Minuteman, has now said that such nicknames are unacceptable.

"Peacekeeping troops should also take care not to use potentially offensivatising nomenclature in relation to those in civilian uniform," the statement continued.

Many UN troops are prone to refer to Iraqis as "towel head" because of the quaint traditional headdress worn by many of them to protect the back of the neck from the sun, probably in mimicry of the knotted handkerchief introduced by working-class British troops a century ago. American military necks rarely require such accoutrements, thanks to the protection afforded by the natural roseate tint with which God created them.

News 2020

When it eventually happens, remember you read it here first

The Tube may soon be forced to raise fares in order to pay the cost of its buskers, London Underground said today.

All buskers on the Tube must be in receipt of corporate sponsorship and pay a portion of their earnings towards London Underground's executive maintenance costs; but this is not enough to offset the growing cost of keeping the train service running, a spokesperson said.

"The tunnels are quite old now," said LU executive Celeborn Drubber. "The vibration effects from the music that is being played are having a potentially serious effect on the structure."

Busking on the Tube without corporate sponsorship has been illegal for over a decade and a half, as the music was found to interfere with passengers' comfort and the meditative quiet for which the Underground is famous across the world.

Four years ago the Home Secretary introduced the penalty of a hundred-pound fine and summary removal of the premolars for unlicensed musicality in a built-up area, which according to Government statistics has done much to obviate the menace.

Corporate sponsorship of busking spaces has been thriving for many years, and enables professional musicians who may have been affected by the economic nonviability of opera houses and symphony orchestras to earn part of a decent living.

"Sponsorship of musicality-oriented locations on the Tube is very generous, but we can't ask commercial organisations to give money for such things as tunnel maintenance, or even sandbags," Mr Drubber said. "Very few significant employees of commercial organisations even use the Tube, remember; and if the whole thing collapses there'll be reconstruction contracts. You can see their point of view," said Mr Drubber.

Fares will be upgraded to whatever seems necessary at the usual six-monthly interval, the London Underground statement concluded.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

News 2020

All the fun of the future without the pain of living there

Although countries like Japan and Vietnam may never be able to make proper amends for their violent and aggressive histories, this should not stop them trying, the Minister for Middle England said today.

The Minister, Ellie Citon-Burchell, was speaking at a commemorative luncheon celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the heroism of its victor and most famous participant, Sir Winston Churchill.

Japan had never apologised for its role in the Second World War to the satisfaction of all concerned, Mrs Citon-Burchell said. British newspapers such as the Daily Maul and the Sun frequently had occasion to draw attention to the Japanese war record in their crusade to get Britain to look to the future, she said.

"Certainly cultural differences play their part," the Minister continued. "Japan and Britain are two very different nations culturally and historically. Japan is an island monarchy with a rigid class system and a history of often violent expansionism. We should not be surprised or unduly irritated if, even after so many years of peace, divergences occasionally arise."

Similarly, Mrs Citon-Burchell said, the Vietnamese nation has never made genuine amends for its 1979 invasion of Cambodia and its toppling of the internationally recognised government. "We must learn to tolerate other cultures, even if they are not capable of apologising in the sense we are used to," the Minister said.

Nevertheless, she concluded, it would be "a pleasant surprise for all" if, at some time during the scheduled commemoration of the Second World War, Japan could bring itself to make another effort at conciliation. The commemorative events, which began nine months ago on the eightieth anniversary of the outbreak of war, will conclude with a fireworks display over Nagasaki in August 2025.

News 2020

Putting the wind up the first draft of history

The Foreign Secretary made his pilgrimage to the site of Auschwitz this week in the annual condemnation of Nazi atrocities and commemoration of the founding of the state of Israel. The Middle East's only democracy was founded so that such atrocities could never happen again.

The Nazi concentration camps were a perversion of a British idea which had been introduced during the Boer War to stop the spread of apartheid, so many British people felt "an understandable if exaggerated sense of guilt," the Foreign Secretary said.

He spoke of the bravery of the British troops who won the Second World War, and whose liberation of Auschwitz would have gone down in history as one of the world's great altruistic acts of humanitarian intervention if the Russians had not happened to get there first.

He also condemned what he called the "cheapening of the Holocaust's memory" by those who compared Nazi actions in Europe during the 1930s to present-day Allied actions in the Middle East and in south-east Asia and in Cuba and in Central America and in detention centres all over Britain.

To detain potential terrorists because of their possible Islamofascist connections was "quite a different thing" from imprisoning real people because of their race or religion, the Foreign Secretary said. "It should always be remembered that the Nazis ran death camps, while democracies merely have occasional interrogatory overreactions," he said.

The use of "Nazi analogies" to condemn the Palestinians' treatment of Israel was also "something of an overstatement," the Foreign Secretary said, although it was regrettable that more was not being done by at least one side of the conflict to achieve a lasting peace. Although he went on to express his "deepest sympathies" for Israeli civilians killed in suicide attacks, the Israeli government expressed "displeasure" at the gaffe.

The Foreign Secretary was one of many British and foreign dignitaries taking part in the ceremony, which included members of the Israeli government and Austria's aged President, Jorg Haider. Prescott Bush, grandson of the late US Commander-in-Chief George W Bush, was also present.

Friday, January 14, 2005

News 2020

When it eventually happens, remember you read it here first

The American company HomePenal, which manufactures "child and family discipline equipment for the Christian husband and father" is seeking an injunction against the British government for illegal restriction of trade.

Under British law, parents are forbidden to discipline their children with physical punishment, although they are permitted to inflict any psychological damage they see fit and also to sell their children into slavery as long as the appropriate taxes are paid.

HomePenal says the law is an infringement of its corporate rights, and is taking its case to the US Supreme Court in the hope of getting the British statute overturned.

"We believe we have a very strong case," said HomePenal executive Rudy Rodman. "England has a long tradition of parenthood and Christian discipline in bringing up its children."

The company manufactures a variety of instruments for disciplining children, including the ButtockBat for simple spanking and the collapsible garden woodshed to "foster an appropriate sense of ceremony and disciplinary environment".

The ButtockBat is manufactured in three sizes - Large, Extra Large and Obese - and includes a screw-on handle extension for extra leverage. The company also makes flexible truncheons which can be hooked onto fathers' belts and used for marital or paternal chiding on family trips and vacations.

HomePenal would be happy to introduce local variations in its merchandise, "just like McDonald's," Mr Rodman said. "We're even looking at an automated robot for your British stately homes, or maybe for private schools, which will be able to uphold discipline, administer medicine and effect invasive anal punishment on children of seven and upwards," he continued.

News 2020

Easily digestible facts for the modern news consumer

Controversial film-maker Rocky Oliver has defended his controversial decision to include the events of 11 September 2001, when America was attacked by terrorists, in his controversial new film adaptation of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead.

Mr Oliver is no stranger to controversy. His first film, about US "support" for "death squads" in Central America, is not much seen these days, but he rose to prominence with the controversial Vietnam: A Boy's Own Story, in which good and evil platoon sergeants battle for a young recruit's soul in a hellish landscape of violence and demonic faceless gooks.

The film garnered considerable controversy for its criticism of the traumatic effects on the United States of the Vietnam War, although it also garnered considerable controversy for its affirmation of the cathartic effects on the United States of the Vietnam War.

The Corporation, Mr Oliver's follow-up film, was equally controversial, featuring a young businessman whose soul is the prize in a battle between good and evil capitalists. The story takes place in a hellish landscape of inhuman greed and troubled parental relationships, and the film garnered considerable controversy.

Mr Oliver has also made controversial films about several US presidents and the historical epic Vlad the Impaler, which caused some controversy over its apparent criticism of American tactics in the war on Islamofascism, despite its apparent affirmation of American aims in the war on Islamofascism.

Mr Oliver's controversial new film, The Fountainhead, is the story of a visionary architect whose greatest work is destroyed in the terrorist attack of 11 September 2001, and who must struggle to rebuild his masterpiece despite his soul being torn between good and evil mentors and a troubled parental relationship.

The film has garnered controversy for being insufficiently condemnatory of the attack on America on 11 September 2001, and also for displaying excessive violence in the climactic scenes where airliners are crashed into two giant tower blocks.

"I don't think my film says anything against America," Mr Oliver said today.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

News 2020

It isn't true yet, but it will be

Media professionals are not paying enough attention to the progress of reality game shows, according to a new study published today.

The study's author, Waldo Sprockett, is an ex-producer of reality game shows and the originator of the popular I Used to be a Celebrity - Get Me Onto There, in which the public can vote for favourite "has-beens" to be allowed into a house for a week of uninterrupted TV exposure.

Mr Sprockett's study claims that, despite the thousands of hours devoted to such shows by the television networks, the news media are still failing to take them seriously either as a cultural phenomenon or as human interest.

"Every now and then you see a report in the papers if someone gets killed, but that's about all," Mr Sprockett told journalists today. "I think there's some danger of becoming jaded about the whole issue, of not taking reality television seriously any more."

Reaction from media professionals was mixed. BBC news editor Boaden Crawley said that the corporation aimed to give the most extensive possible news coverage, but that prioritisation was a factor given the limitations of the diurnal cycle.

Since reality game shows dealt with "genuine events happening in the present", the BBC might consider treating the shows as current affairs programmes rather than light entertainment in future, Mr Sprockett's report suggests. "I would certainly be willing to give such a proposal my sympathetic attention," said Ms Crawley.

Former Guardian editor Allan Fusbudget, who has a long history of not being voted onto I Used to be a Celebrity, denied that there was any danger of game shows being taken insufficiently seriously. "It's the game shows that need to evolve so that viable stories can be made of them," he said.

The media could not be expected to provide saturation coverage every time something happened on a game show, unless it made the front page of the Sun or happened to a member of the Royal Family, Mr Fusbudget added.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

News 2020

Putting the wind up the first draft of history

The British government has announced a new initiative to help solve the problem of the terrorist suspects detained in America's Guatanamo Bay prison complex.

Precise figures are not available for reasons of national security, but it is thought that up to 150 of the detainees have been resident in the United Kingdom at one time or another on a temporary basis while engaged in unknown activities under circumstances which are at present unclear.

The Prime Minister recently confirmed during question time that many of the detainees hold British passports. He went on to remind the public that "passport-oriented vigilance is the eternal price of holidays".

Opposition leader Boris Johnson said that the detention without trial of British passport holders was "a travesty" and asked why, in light of Britain's ancient traditions of justice and fair play, more had not been done to revoke the citizenship of the detainees.

The Prime Minister replied that this would set an awkward precedent for detainees held without trial in Britain's own detention centres, but that a special cross-party committee, headed by Minister of Immigration and Deportation Eugene Trueblood, would be appointed to look into the matter.

The committee's findings will be adopted promptly and in full, subject to the convenience of the United States government, the Prime Minister said today.

The initiative consists of an expansion of the idea of citizenship classes, which was originated early in the century by the then Prime Minister, Lord Blair of Belmarsh.

Citizenship tutors will be sent to Cuba to give detainees classes in Afghan, Pakistani, Baghdadi or Iranian citizenship, after which it is hoped that the terrorist suspects will no longer have the inclination to claim British residency as an excuse for their actions.

Mr Johnson praised the committee for its work, but condemned the initiative as a needless waste of public money. "British taxpayers should not have to stand by and see their taxes used in the profligate giving away of foreign citizenships," he said.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

News 2020

All the fun of the future without the pain of living there

British research psychiatrists have discovered another new strain of the mental illness paranoia civilis, the Ministry of Incapacity Prevention announced today.

Political paranoia, as it is known to laymen, has long been the only recognised form of mental illness in the United States, but its incidence in this country has so far been limited thanks to the Government's strict quarantine regulations, known to laymen as the Freedom of Information Act.

Ever since the disease was first discovered more than ten years ago, psychological researchers have isolated new variations on almost a monthly basis. Although there is considerable debate within the profession as to what constitutes an instance of the disease, experts are largely agreed as to the threat it poses.

The newly discovered condition, which has been tentatively labelled suecicophilia, is a variant of political paranoia in which the victims not only develop a morbid hatred of their own country, but as a kind of compensation mechanism begin to entertain utopian fantasies about other countries.

"Patients who develop this condition tend to compare Britain unfavourably with places like Scandinavia," said psychiatrist Dr Milburn Quincher. "They think of trees, lakes, mermaids, herring and so forth, and then they associate it all with a welfare state mentality which is quite incompatible with Britain's obligations to the world."

The medical profession has come under attack from some quarters for its attention to such symptoms. "Treason is not a disease but a crime, and traitors should be hanged, not given treatment by our already overstretched readjustment services," said a Sunday Sycophant editorial recently. But the government has not given up hope that a compassionate approach may be best in the long run.

"Doctors can argue all day long as to whether an irrational hatred of identity cards is a case of political paranoia or simple papyrophobia," said health minister Bilharzia Fison. "What matters is that the public be protected from these maniacs, who at any moment may slice us up in our beds, as often used to happen when schizophrenics were allowed to walk around loose; and also that such unstable elements be protected from themselves as much as budgetary constraints permit."

Monday, January 10, 2005

News 2020

Futures traders wishing to profit unfairly from the revelations contained herein are invited to apply to the reporter with appropriate incentives

The Prime Minister has expressed concern at the possible effects of violent computer games on the minds of young children. Speaking at a Microsoft lunch marking the launch of the new MicroMocracy digital voting software, he said that computer game manufacturers should manifest a "purer vision" for the sake of the young minds they held in trust.

"Computer games are not just a convenient way for parents to keep children quiet," he said. "They have the potential to be an important educative tool and a vital element in the transition from childhood to fully operational human resource."

The Prime Minister spoke of his "personal shock" when he discovered his own children playing a video war game based on Operation Friendly Neighbour, a recent success in the war against nastiness in the Middle East.

Players had a choice of roles from both the Allied and the insurgent sides. "I was horrified to find that a sufficiently skilful player could, if he or she chose to play the insurgent role, actually prevent the bombing of Mosul and the excision of the 35,000 terrorists who were present there," the Prime Minister said. "Similarly, a player lacking in skill, if he or she chose to play the Allies, could actually lose the whole campaign and leave the terrorists victorious."

This "casual attitude to history" was all too common on the part of games manufacturers, the Prime Minister said. The idea that terrorism might prevail against democracy was not one that should be presented as entertainment, but as a real danger which was being vigorously combated by responsible governments in both London and Washington, he continued.

Reaction to the speech was largely favourable. "Part of the reason why there is so much cynicism these days is the demise of the belief that the good guys can win," said Microsoft delegate Chip Kevinson. "Maybe, for the sake of future generations, it's time computer games stopped trying to be fashionable and sophisticated and took that kind of thinking on board."

Sunday, January 09, 2005

News 2020

Easily digestible facts for the modern news consumer

Three members of the US targeted disposal service will stand trial at some point in the future for alleged breaches of conduct during the war against unpleasantness in Iraq, the American Department of Defence has announced.

The three accused men, who are all natives of the region, will be tried before a secret military court in the Democratic Republic of Baghdad so that they can be kept anonymous and safe from terrorist retribution. No details of their alleged breaches of conduct have been provided in the relevant Pentagon fact sheets.

Members of the targeted disposal service are also known as Slavebridge units after the service's founder, John Slavebridge. The elite tactical units were originally formed during the cold war in El Salvador, when a peasant insurgency threatened to overthrow the government and launch a massive Nicaraguan- and Soviet-backed invasion of the United States.

The Slavebridge units were used to target and eliminate insurgents and their sympathisers, but drew criticism after some rotten apples tangentially connected with the service mistook some American nuns for communist insurgents and initiated a premature and excessively pro-active military solution.

The new scandal in Iraq will do little to help the reputation of the Slavebridge units and may provide the terrorist insurgents with further propaganda material with which to sway a population whose hearts and minds are proving highly resistant to democracy, thanks to the rigid traditionalism common in the region and the violent and intimidatory tactics of the insurgent terrorists.

Slavebridge units are usually equipped with the latest weaponry and equipment, and are generally able to call down airstrikes if they detect an insurgent rat's-nest in a building too large for a single squad to cope with. This occurs quite frequently, as the insurgents generally favour buildings such as hospitals and radio stations, which are protected by the Geneva Conventions and hence are sitting targets for unscrupulous use by cancerous insurgent cells.

News 2020

We regret that we cannot be held responsible if the future turns out differently due to inaccuracies in the present

The BBC is set to broadcast the musical Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells despite one of the largest levels of public complaint in the corporation's history.

The stage version of the musical has been running in London's West End for nearly two years, and has been an extremely popular, if controversial hit, consistently outselling even Cameron Windcheater's Carry On Falluja.

The BBC's announcement six months ago that it would be broadcasting the musical prompted an immediate reaction from the tabloids. The Sun objected to the "obscene implications" of the song and dance routine Hey Mr Bluenose, in which most of the adjectives and half of the nouns are replaced by "censorship" bleeps.

"These bleeps carry clear implications that the song contains evil obscenities. We would not want to hear the obscenities, so why must we hear the vile verses which contain them?" wrote Sun editor Michael Portillo in a "The Sun Says Special" column last autumn.

Meanwhile the Daily Maul objected to the song Decent People Shouldn't Have to See This on the grounds that "the lyrics implied that there was something wrong with being a decent person" - an impression that could well cause irreparable moral damage to any children who might be watching the broadcast, the paper said.

"We are well aware that the BBC is broadcasting the show after the so-called nine o'clock watershed and prefacing it with a so-called parental warning," said Maul editor Gaynor Speedhump. "But we do not feel that this constitutes an adequate excuse for broadcasting filth at the taxpayer's expense."

The Maul's sister paper, the Daily Expurge, condemned the song That Old Off Button Don't Turn Me On as "an insult to human intelligence in general and Tunbridge Wells in particular" and urged readers to complain to the BBC director general, the Board of Governors, their local MPs, the Ministry of Freedom and both Archbishops of Canterbury.

"It is both amazing and disgusting," wrote the Daily Expurge, "that the people of one of the world's great countries should be forced to spend hours complaining about programmes they have never seen and should never be forced to watch, when there are so many other pressing matters - asylum seekers, family values, shopping and women's issues - which have a far more legitimate claim on their time."

Saturday, January 08, 2005

News 2020

It isn't true yet, but it will be

Education may be over-rated, according to a new study by the Institute of Historical Studies, a government-sponsored foundation set up to "keep alive the memory of the many glorious moments in British history, including specifically the victories of 1918, 1945 and 1966".

The new report was commissioned by the Department of Education and Human Resource Maturation, which is trying to determine the extent to which the study of history should be subsidised by the taxpayer.

"The extent to which the lessons of history have ever been learned at all is controversial," said IHS Research Fellow Vesta Knibley. "The obvious case is the Second World War, where aside from a few exceptions such as Margaret Thatcher, the lesson Never trust a kraut has been forgotten throughout Europe within a few years of Britain's victory."

The new report goes much further than this, however. Noting the robustness of so-called popular culture and the ephemerality of what are called "educated" ideas, it calls for the government to withdraw entirely from providing the "luxury" of education and concentrate instead on funding training for job interview skills from the age of five and upwards.

"You only have to look at the historical record to see the sense of it," Ms Knibley said. "In ancient Rome, for instance, the so-called educated class believed in a lot of mystery cults which have been extinct for centuries now - Marcus Aurelius and things like that. The common people, with no government-subsidised university packages, believed in things like astrology and Christianity, which are still with us today."

News 2020

Making the present look like paradise

The US entertainment company JustVision, which specialises in televising real-life acts of justice, has called on the US government to pay more attention to the race issue in America's prisons.

JustVision had been televising real-life criminal and civil trials for nearly fifteen years before its controversial leap to fame with the documentary Fast Track Justice, which followed the activities of a group of vigilantes on the New York subway system.

Although the vigilantes were almost universally acknowledged to be doing "a superb job", the programme shocked many with its explicit depiction of the summary floggings, hangings and shootings with which the group tries to maintain order on the subway.

The case eventually came before the US Supreme Court, which ruled that, whatever the truth or falsity of the images transmitted, what mattered was whether they caused offence to "moderate public opinion". Since the programme's transmission had resulted in a 25% rise in calls for televised public executions, the verdict was that Fast Track Justice had not caused such offence.

The programme was certainly one of the major factors behind the passage of the Public Enlightenment Through Justice Act the following year, which permits owners of correctional facilities to bid for television airspace for any executions they carry out.

However, JustVision now claims that an element of racial discrimination has entered the process, with more than 75% of the principals in televised executions being from ethnic minority groups. JustVision says that this is "an unacceptable breach of guidelines."

Several independent corrective reclamation corporations have said that they will look at their policy on televised executions in light of JustVision's objections, but have also pointed out that the figures are an accurate reflection of racial distribution in executions taking place in the country.

"We realise that 75% of executions involve non-white incarceratory material," said JustVision spokesperson Roper Frye. "All we're saying is that those executions which are televised are a matter of entertainment policy rather than judicial policy, and entertainment policy dictates that non-ethnic principals are more telegenic."

Friday, January 07, 2005

News 2020

Bringing you closer to the future

The British news media have risen magnificently to the challenge posed by the earthquake in south-east Asia and have roused the British public from its self-centred navel-gazing long enough to be of some help, concluded the British news media this week.

The front page of the Daily Maul proudly displayed the figure - 4.9 million pounds - which had been raised for the Woodrow Wyatt Compassionate Fund thanks to the paper's pictures of British schoolchildren bowing their heads in memory of the earthquake's victims.

"The children were so photogenic that donations from the public nearly doubled after we ran them," said Daily Maul editor Bodger Swilbrite. "We are all very proud."

Among the quality papers, the Sunday Independent and Upper Middle-Class Advertiser ran the story of a British diplomat and his family, who were all killed in the earthquake except for the man's wife, who survived in time to be interviewed for the front page.

Such human interest stories are one of the factors which have considerable potential for making the news come alive for its readers, said media expert Bradley Ichneumon.

The media's success in motivating the British public to give up tens of millions of pounds to help the victims of the earthquake was "a staggering achievement," said Dr Ichneumon. It might even be possible, he added, to compare it to the incident during the war against opium in Afghanistan more than twenty years ago, when a BBC journalist single-handedly liberated Kabul on the air.

"People in the west really don't have much conception of the world outside their own comfortable lives," Dr Ichneumon explained. "That's where the media can really make a contribution - by providing human figures that the public can identify with, figures whose tragic stories can cut through - albeit temporarily - the complacent fog with which ordinary people surround themselves."

News 2020

News so new it hasn't happened yet

The soft drinks company Carbonated SugarWater International has announced that its latest advertising campaign is to be withdrawn because of earthquake-reminiscent imagery.

The campaign had featured various star personalities drinking Carbonated SugarWater products and then quivering orgasmically to such an extent that buildings collapse around them, leaving them in a paradisical natural landscape full of happy natives and fresh fruit. Carbonated SugarWater has decided to "postpone indefinitely" the showing of the advertisements in light of the disaster in south-east Asia.

The costs of the campaign, which are estimated at around 30 million pounds, will be set against the aid which Carbonated SugarWater has pledged to the victims of the earthquake.

"We're not too worried about the company incurring big financial losses," said spokesperson Emerald Glitzenberger. "As well as making the most delicious and nutritious drinks in the world, which dissolve teeth and rot duodena only when consumed to excess, Carbonated SugarWater International believes it has a deep moral obligation to assistivate the involuntarily disadvantagised in any way possible."

Along with many others, the corporation has pledged a million dollars and fourteen million remaindered cans of soft drink in aid to the stricken region.

Additionally, instead of the scheduled advertisement, Carbonated SugarWater is planning to put out a simple appeal on behalf of the earthquake victims, Ms Glitzenberger said.

The advertisement will feature no star personalities and no special effects. A simple black-on-white message - "Remember the earthquake victims. Drink Carbonated SugarWater Products" - will be displayed, with a tastefully muted voice-over for those who cannot read. "It's going to be very understated, very Zen," Ms Glitzenberger said.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

News 2020

Five times winner of the BBC Award for Nautical Non-Destabilisation

The western world united today in a spontaneous media-led outpouring of compassion as, in memory of those killed in the Asian earthquake, a three-minute silence was observed in those workplaces where talking is still permitted.

A few corporations have raised doubts as to the effectiveness of the measure, saying that 23 hours and 57 minutes is not quite a long enough working day to show maximal profits to shareholders.

Other companies are worried that such memorial silences might be the start of a slippery slope into worker idleness, given the increase in the number and severity of natural disasters which is expected over the next few years thanks to the Government's climate change policies.

However, most of western civilisation was happy to join the vast, nearly cost-free act of philanthropy as, on the other side of the globe, media professionals stationed barely half an ocean away from the worst effects of the earthquake did their best to put on record some of the reactions of those affected.

"All of us are very grateful," said Colonel Thigpen Wanger of the US Air Force, who commands the cruise missile base on the headlands of Alfredo Garcia.

Seismic detecting equipment on the small island was among the first to register the earthquake, and the warning was sufficiently early that all 108 of the new Obi-Wan missiles and their bunker-busting Schwarzenegger mini-warheads were protected from damage.

A tragic irony dictated that, although the island itself was severely shaken by the earthquake, the US base suffered less damage than some locations which were subjected to smaller tremors.

"If we had more bases in the region, we could have broadcast a warning and some of our guys might have thought to tell the natives," Colonel Wanger said. "It just proves once again that the best answer to all your problems is to let the US military build a base on your doorstep."

Then Europe and America fell silent as the people of the civilised world took a hundred and eighty precious seconds to think compassionate, inexpensive thoughts about their less fortunate little brothers so very far away.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

News 2020

When it eventually happens, remember you read it here first

New measures could soon be put in place to combat the growing "culture of blame" in Britain, the Prime Minister announced today.

"The culture of blame which pertains in this country today is an unhealthy and debilitating trend," the Prime Minister said. "A democratic government cannot allow itself to be swayed merely by the opinions of the public, unless those opinions convey a duly positive and constructive attitude."

The Government is known to be concerned about the resignation of former Minister of Freedom, David Blunted, because of blame attached to him. It is feared that, if nothing is done, blame might also be attached to other ministers, thus limiting their freedom of action.

The Department of Overseas Development has been feeling particularly harassed over the past few weeks because of the public response to the earthquake in south-east Asia. Donations from members of the public amounted to twice the original aid pledge by the Government, thus forcing a larger pledge and a considerable degree of financial readjustment within the Department.

Up to five hundred civil servants may have to be laid off in order to pay for the increased aid budget this year, it is believed. Shadow development minister Fletcher Hyoid said in Parliament today that the Government was placing the needs of foreigners above those of the British people and the American government.

It is possible that Mr Hyoid's attack is the latest reason for the Prime Minister's announcement concerning Britain's "blame culture". The proposed measures will include several new laws and a widening of some which are presently in effect.

Among other things, the libel laws will be extensively revised and updated so that suits can be brought against those who blame others. There will also be a new law against "incitement to moral hatred" which will help to ensure the freedom of ministers to act as necessary without undue concern for image or spin, the Prime Minister said.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

News 2020

All the fun of the future without the pain of living there

The Government's target of ending child poverty in Britain by 2025 has been put back another 25 years because of bureaucratic hold-ups, the Department of Miraculous Compassion (Domestic) said today.

"If it were within our power, of course we would end child poverty by next week at the latest, but unfortunately there are other factors which have to be considered," said spokesperson Gatley Frimble.

Mr Frimble said the Government wished to remind the public that, taking appropriate underlying demographic trends into account, child poverty in Britain was at a lower level than at any time in the past ten years in real terms where similar factors obtained according to official figures.

However, Mr Frimble said that this "enviable progress" had been slowed in recent years by a reluctance on the part of the National Office of Truths, Holy Truths and Statistics to accept new and innovative approaches to its work.

"The Government is engaged in a continuing quest to for efficiency, accuracy and undiluted truth in all things," said Mr Frimble. "This necessitates a flexible and dynamic approach the demands of which have been, perhaps, a little too much for some of our more traditionalist departments."

Mr Frimble was referring to the changes in the official methods of assessing the extent of child poverty, which have been changed 129 times in the past twenty years.

At the moment, children are not considered to be suffering from poverty unless they are accommodationally unprovisioned, lack gainful employment through no fault of their own and are under five years old. "This seems clear enough to the lay person," said statistician Bamber Muttock, "but the problem is that the Government keeps shifting the definitions of 'no fault of their own' and 'under five years old'."

Each change takes several weeks to become established practice, said Mr Muttock, so if another alteration occurs soon afterwards it can cause considerable confusion. "The Government should not allow its zeal for truth to get in the way of the provision of statistics which, while perhaps not accurate to the last infinitesimal degree, are perfectly acceptable for purposes to the extent that they actually serve them," Mr Muttock said.

Monday, January 03, 2005

News 2020

Putting the wind up the first draft of history

Religious leaders have been quick to react to the earthquake in south-east Asia, in which more than 100 Britons are thought to have died. Christian leaders all over the world have ordered their flocks to feel compassion for the victims so as to make themselves more worthy of Heaven.

Given present levels of church membership, it is statistically probable that approximately 1.87 of British casualties were Anglicans, so both the Archbishops of Canterbury responded to the disaster with parallel columns of equivalent length in yesterday's Middle England on Sunday.

The Reverend Jebediah Icke, of the Evangelical wing, pointed out that almost none of those who died in the earthquake were Christians, and that approximately 98.13 of the Britons who died were probably not Anglicans. "The conclusion should be obvious," he concluded.

Dr Lionel Marmaduke Lilliwhyte, of the Liberal wing, wrote that it was perfectly understandable for some people to question their faith during times of crisis, particularly if they or their loved ones were being crushed by falling buildings, but that at the same time it was precisely at times of crisis that the need for faith was greatest, as without faith the building might feel even heavier.

Membership in the Anglican church is at its lowest since records began, and despite Dr Lilliwhyte's efforts, membership within the church is moving steadily from the Liberal wing towards the Evangelical.

Asked to comment on the Archbishops' words, the Prime Minister said that it was the duty of all Christians to help their less fortunate brethren, and that only NuLibLab policies could enable them to do so efficiently, effectively and without undue fear of excessive corporate taxation or imminent terrorist attack.

In the United States, the Commander-in-Chief, who is Pastor and Steward of the Homeland Flock for the duration of the state of emergency which has been in force since the terrorist attack of 11 September 2001 when America was attacked by terrorists, led an interactive television prayer meeting in which ordinary viewers could phone in or text their "Amen" to send spiritual comfort to earthquake victims.

The Prime Minister and the Commander-in-Chief later issued a joint statement thanking God for his infinite mercy and reminding all British and American Muslims that, however inconvenient they might find the curfews, random searches and barbed wire enclosures, they were still lucky to live in countries where thought is free.

News 2020

Futures traders wishing to profit unfairly from the revelations contained herein are invited to apply to the reporter with appropriate incentives

News agencies are failing in their duty to report information of vital public interest, according to the Corporate Consumer Council's monthly report. The CCC, a consumer rights organisation funded by charitable donations from international corporations, blames media apathy for a 1.3% drop in purchasing over the past month.

"The media are quite simply not paying sufficient attention to available product information," said CCC spokesperson Melanie Highpocket. "This means that vital product information which should be relayed via news stories is forcibly relegated to the advertising department, with consequent inflationary pressure on advertising budgets."

As an example, the report cites the recent failure of the EarPod, a microminiaturised information outlet which can be implanted into the consumer's aural canal in a simple operation like an ear piercing. The EarPod supplies a constant feed of news information and product updates directly into the aural canal until its battery wears out, at which point it can be removed and replaced in a new operation.

"The EarPod is a cheap and efficient 24-hour source of information which provides comprehensive world news and product updates for up to three months without pause," said Ms Highpocket today. "Yet its presence on the market, and the availability of implantation technicians in selected shopping centres, has scarcely been reported."

The CCC believes that the mainstream news media may have blanked coverage of the EarPod because of its dynamic market transference potential. But, according to Ms Highpocket, the problems go still deeper.

"It's a basic problem with the mainstream media," she said. "They get to decide what to leave in and what to take out. Often what gets left in is the sensational stuff like wars, disasters and asylum seeker crime levels, which means that the kind of thing people can actually do something about - authentic ways in which individual consumer actions can actually promote a considerable degree of economic rectification - tends to get left by the wayside."

Sunday, January 02, 2005

News 2020

It isn't true yet, but it will be

Overcrowding may soon be a thing of the past, except on western public transport, according to a study by the Malthus Institute for Population Studies, released today.

The MIPS had previously estimated that the earth's population would reach levels of 9 billion or more before thinning out occurred due to lack of resources, but the institute now says that "considerable die-off" may now occur well before that stage is reached.

"There are two factors which the older studies didn't predict," said MIPS member Grover Wilmot. "One is the basket of visionary policies being implemented by Britain with some help from the Americans - the war on underhandedness, the freeing of the Third World from the toils of primitivism, and the fostering of free trade."

These policies will facilitate a substantial reduction in population over the next few decades thanks to secondary effects such as increased military intervention, increased turnover in juvenile labour utilisation due to work unit wear-out, and so forth, said Mr Wilmot.

"The second factor is the ever-increasing rapidity of climate change and the high probability of an increased incidence of natural population-reducing occurrences," Mr Wilmot continued.

"The recent earthquake in south-east Asia had nothing to do with climate change, but it does give a good indication of the potentialities of this factor in reducing overcrowding," he said. "In fact, if it hadn't been for an attack of old-fashioned interventionism on the part of the public in many western countries, the earthquake could have been more beneficial still."

Such antiquated attitudes will not be affordable for long, however, the report predicts. As more and more natural reductions occur, ordinary members of the public will become inured to the urge to invest in schemes where the financial returns are small or nonexistent. It is also possible that some natural reduction incidences will actually occur in western countries, which will cause incomes to drop due to insurance and healthcare costs.

In fact, the effects of the die-off will largely benefit Third World countries, according to the report. "They are more affected by overpopulation and less inclined to react emotionally to bereavement situations," said Mr Wilmot. "In the west, the infrastructure is more developed and there are fewer people. In practical terms, this means that if a million people die in an earthquake in London, public services will also be affected, so there'll still be just as little chance of getting a seat on the Tube."

News 2020

News so new it hasn't happened yet

Controversial talk-show host and leader of the British Exit Europe Party Robert Kilroy-Silk has condemned the international response to the Asian earthquake as "political correctness gone rabid".

Mr Kilroy-Silk was speaking on the Anglo-American talk show Voices of Reason, which he presents along with tabloid journalist Johnny Littledick and US pundit Trot Legbranch.

"The whole business of throwing money at so-called disaster victims is the greatest disaster of our times," Mr Kilroy-Silk claimed. "We owe these people nothing. They contribute nothing to our culture. There is no conceivable reason that I can conceive of as to why we should subsidise them for living in these unstable places."

Barely a month went by, said Mr Kilroy-Silk, without "politically correct liberal news stories about so-called victims" who were merely suffering the natural consequences of building their personal accommodations "on geographical fault lines or the sides of volcanoes, and without the proper architectural expertise."

Mr Kilroy-Silk was initially discussing a new brand of face cream, but was apparently sidetracked onto the issue of international aid. He then spoke for thirty-five minutes on the subject, although only twenty minutes were broadcast owing to commercial breaks and the end of the programme's running time.

Instant audience polls conducted via the new Diebechtel home voting machines showed a 65% approval rating for Mr Kilroy-Silk's views in the United States. Approval ratings rose to 85% among people who actually watched the show.

British viewers have not been polled, but the director of Nearly Independent Television, Nigella Rennet, which distributes Voices of Reason in the UK, said that Mr Kilroy-Silk's right to free speech would be respected.

Both Mr Kilroy-Silk's co-presenters said that his convictions were sincere and deeply held and deserved to be treated with respect. Mr Littledick was quick to point out that any "whines of disapproval" from the liberal press would be "all the proof necessary for anyone with half a brain cell" of the correctness of Mr Kilroy-Silk's views.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

News 2020

We regret that we cannot be held responsible if the future turns out differently due to inaccuracies in the present

The Prime Minister has criticised the news media for its reporting of the earthquake in south-east Asia, in which more than 100 Britons have been killed.

Journalists had focused too much on "getting an emotive reaction" and had not shown sufficient interest in the more positive aspects of the story, he said.

The Prime Minister's remarks were made during a press conference held to announce a three per cent cut in Third World debt, conditional upon the rationalisation of the countries' economies and a general cutting away of excess flab, particularly in Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Asked whether the Government intended to give preferential treatment to countries hit by the earthquake, the Prime Minister said that emotive considerations could not be permitted to influence national policy.

"Of course, our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones or favourite hotels," he said. "But I think this particular geophysical incident has been blown somewhat out of proportion by media coverage which tends to concentrate rather too much on the negative aspects of the matter."

Casualty figures had been given excessive prominence even when they were not known to be reliable, the Prime Minister said. Coverage of the earthquake presented an unfavourable contrast with coverage of the war against nastiness in the Middle East, where only the best quality casualties are reported, he continued.

Respected journalist and ex-BBC director general Andrew Marr was singled out for praise because of his article "Do we give natural disaster a chance?" in which he proposed "the Shylock option" on debt relief: "Now that these Third Worlders' boats have been lost at sea, we must ratchet this up much further. And unlike Shylock, we have the privilege of making our own laws. Flesh, blood, bone, whatever it takes - we must have our bond."

The Prime Minister also praised the BBC's Newsnight programme for its spectacular digital reconstructions of the earthquake and its useful hints on plate tectonics.