April Fool's Day.....
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|Tue, 04-01-2003 - 4:40pm|
News April Foolers Spin War Tales
April 1, 2003 â€” The unsuspecting could have been tricked into thinking the U.S.-led war in Iraq had taken a sudden surreal twist, as newspapers around the world spun bitter-sweet April Fool's reports about the conflict.
In South Africa the Afrikaans Beeld newspaper told its readers that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had accepted an offer of exile in the country in exchange for a top job running the country's oil industry. As part of the deal, Saddam would be offered a luxury game farm near the smoggy oil city of Sasolburg, the daily wrote.
Washington was said to be excited about the offer, which would make the Iraqi leader "somebody else's problem," the paper fibbed Tuesday.
"Oscar withdrawn in punishment," headlined Greece's Eleftheros Typos daily, reporting from Hollywood that the film academy had called back an award given to Michael Moore, the anti-war US director of the subversive documentary "Bowling for Columbine."
Moore had lashed out at the U.S. administration during the award ceremony on March 23. "We are against this war Mr Bush. Shame on you. Shame on you!," he said, bringing both cheers and boos from the glitterati audience.
Germany's Tageszeitung ran a spoof report saying that tensions over Iraq had led Washington to rethink the site for its new embassy in Berlin. The current site is on Berlin's Pariser Platz, which means Parisian square, and directly opposite the French mission.
France spearheaded fierce diplomatic resistance to U.S. plans for war against Iraq, dashing hopes by London, Washington and Madrid of obtaining a second U.N. resolution authorizing military action.
Tageszeitung, quoting American sources, said U.S. diplomats "could live with being next to the French, but only if the name of the square is changed."
Another spoof, from the Belgian paper Le Soir, reported that like Saddam, Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel had several near-perfect look-alikes who cover for him during television appearances. Michel, a strong opponent of the war against Iraq, has become a something of a regular on Belgian television debates, leading some to joke that he seemed to be everywhere at once.
In Japan, the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper reported that the world's largest oilfields had been discovered in Tokyo Bay, a revelation set to tip the balance of power with Washington radically in Japan's favor.
The paper separately reported that Japan planned to send robots modelled on the popular 1960s cartoon character Astro Boy to help with post-war reconstruction in Iraq.
"It is partly aimed at showing the world the right way to use science technology following the loss of confidence in U.S. high-tech weapons," the paper wrote.
Kenya's East African Standard reported that U.S.-led forces in Iraq were looking for reinforcements in Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan, better adapted to the desert and semi-arid conditions, which were giving the coalition forces "a rough time," the report said.
Other press April Fools jokes played safer by staying away from the war in Iraq.
The Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living supplement featured a spoof review of a restaurant called Species, where it said diners could feast on a menu created from animals from the World Wildlife Fund's endangered list. The restaurant, owned by on April Phewell, was said to specialize in braised slices of hairy nosed wombat, yellow spotted tree frog kebabs and Sumatran Rhino steaks.
In Sydney's Daily Telegraph and Melbourne's Herald Sun, an advertisement claimed motorists would be able to save on road tolls using new technology that made their cars invisible.
The European Commission meanwhile announced a ban on single-shelled eggs, a play on the French word "coque" which means both egg shell and ship's hull.
Some papers ducked out of the April 1 tradition, however, branding it indecent at such a time of crisis. "Eleftherotypia will not follow the tradition. It will not offer you an April Fool's lie," the anti-war Greek newspaper printed on page one. "Others have served you one already â€” with bombs and with death," it wrote in an allusion to the U.S.-led war.