Friday, 4 April 2008

China Acknowledges Human Rights Protests In Usual Way

China has rushed through the trial of human rights activist Hu Jia in advance of the summer’s Olympic Games, sentencing him to three and a half years for criticising the Communist Party.

Hu had written articles on overseas websites and given interviews to the world’s media highlighting human rights abuses in the country - such as the treatment of HIV victims, restrictions on religious freedom and the crisis in Tibet - and was found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power”.

The foreign ministry defended the verdict, and accused critics of interfering in China’s internal affairs.

“We hope sports fans from all over the world will be encouraged to come to the Beijing Games,” said a government spokesman. “They need have no fear of encountering this dangerous criminal on the streets any more, knowing there is now no danger of arrest and getting thrown into jail for being an inadvertent accessory to his evil counter-revolutionary propaganda.”

The Dark Night Returns

‘Diamond Dan’ has been selected by Northern Ireland’s Orange Order as the name of its new cartoon superhero. The devoutly humble religious organisation hopes to bring about a renaissance of Christian tolerance and understanding by using the clean-cut comic-book character in its education outreach programme.

“Hey, kids! I’m Diamond Dan the Orangeman,” boomed the brightly-coloured vigilante in the tangerine tights. “Join me in my heroic fight against injustice, crime and Papists. Whoops.”

So far there has been no reaction from Ulster’s Catholic minority, which suffered under the yoke of Protestant discrimination for two centuries. There have, however, been hushed rumours of a caped vigilante seen leaping among the rooftops, leaving a trail of smashed kneecaps behind him, known only as Baseballbatman.

Ken Puts It In, Out, Shakes It All About

Londoners are still reeling about in shock today, following the earth-shattering revelation that Ken Livingstone has five children from three different partners.

Observers say that the bombshell spells certain political death for the mayor’s re-election chances. His close advisors are said to be urging him to either retire to a monastery on some small remote island and live a humble life of sorrowful penitence, or do the decent thing and throw himself off a tall building.

“Ken has broken all of the rules of a decent society,” said a visibly-shaken man in the street. “He has shown himself to be a feckless breeder, like the feral scum from the sink estates. OK, so Boris will go for anything posh in a skirt - but at least he has the decency to look a bit sheepish about it when it all comes out in the papers.”

On the other hand, one feral scum from a sink estate with whom we managed to establish a rudimentary form of communication said: “Nice one mate! I didn’t fink the little twerp ‘ad it in ‘im - let alone in anyone else. ‘E’s King Ken of the Chav People, that’s wot ‘e is! ‘E’s got my vote, or ‘e would ‘ave if I’d bovvered to register - ‘course, I’m tryin’ to dodge the council tax, innit? I bet ‘e’s rakin’ it in on the child benefit. Standard.”

Let God Sort Them Out

In a speech at Westminster Cathedral, former Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for faith to be given a central role in tackling the world’s pressing problems.

“Look, basically, what I’m saying is this,” explained Mr Blair. “Christ knows how we’re going to sort this mess out.”

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Never Say Thunder From Chile With The Living Spy Who Loved Eyes Only, No

Top secret agent James Bond may have been killed in a gripping, edge-of-the-seat showdown with his arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blopez, the British Secret Service announced yesterday.

Details are sketchy, but some facts are beginning to emerge from the murky waters of international intrigue. It appears that Blopez - the evil genius at the head of the small Chilean town of Baqueofbeyondo - burst through a massive police cordon in a battered old VW camper or giant mechanical crab – accounts differ – and either threw a fluffy, exploding cat at the suave super-spy, or lowered him into a pool full of freakish killer electric squid.

“How dare you come to whatever country this is, Meester Bond, and pretend it is the country next door!” sneered the arch-villain, climbing into his private space shuttle, or possibly a one-man submersible. “You are worse than General Pinochet, with your cut-price special effects and unfeasible gadgets - like the compass in the heel of your shoe and the pen that writes invisible messages in lemon juice!”

“Do you expect me to work in these conditions?” cried 007, making a desperate lunge for the safety of the make-up trailer.

“No, Meester Bond,” sneered Blopez, taking careful aim with an atomic bazooka (or it might have been a steel-toothed midget with three nipples). “I expect you to do your own stunts.”

M said that no further information was currently available - but offered reporters a quantum of solace, saying that a full report would be generally released by Columbia and MGM in the autumn, at a cinema near you.

Porsche Claim Is A Bit Rich

Luxury car-maker Porsche has launched a high court bid to halt Ken Livingstone’s plans to impose a tax on high-emission cars entering central London.

Under the plans – which will be scrapped anyway, if the Conservatives win May’s mayoral election – owners of high-performance sports cars (such as Porsches) and big SUVs (such as Porsches) will face a daily charge of £25 from October.

Porsche Cars GB’s long-nosed managing director, Andy Goss, said that the case was “about protecting London and Londoners from a new tax that will not only fail to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in central London, but also increase congestion and damage air quality."

Mr Goss declined to say quite how charging the extremely rich for the privilege of continuing to crawl around the City in their fume-belching toys would make congestion and pollution worse than it already is. Experts fear they might decide that, since the charge is fixed at £25 regardless of vehicle size or damage to the environment, they may as well go for bust and trade their Porsches for something even bigger, perhaps with multiple jet or rocket engines.

"Porsche should be using its engineering expertise to create low polluting cars,” said an unrepentant Ken Livingstone. “But maybe their market research suggests that their customers are selfish, status-obsessed scumbags who laugh at the menial pedestrians choking on their pollution.”

Porsche, however, pointed out that they are very concerned about the environment, which is why they have not - so far, at least - tooled up for mass-production of their founder’s 1945 blueprints for a 100-ton Nazi super-tank.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Sportsman Refuses Beacon of No Hope

India’s football captain, Baichung Bhutia, has stunned sports fans the world over by refusing to carry the Olympic torch on its journey through Delhi later this month.

“I sympathise with the Tibetan cause,” the Buddhist football hero told the Times of India. “This is my way of standing by the people of Tibet and their struggle. I abhor violence in any form."

Bhutia comes from India’s north-eastern state of Sikkim, the subject of a longstanding Chinese territorial claim. India has traditionally shown sympathy for the Tibetan cause; but in recent years it has seen an improvement in relations with the Chinese authorities, and now officially recognises Tibet as a part of China.

Sport personalities and fans around the world scratched their heads in bewilderment at Bhutia’s principled stand. Leading British athlete Konnie Huq, lately of Blue Peter, has already confirmed that she will take part in the British leg of the torch’s journey, despite earlier suggestions that she once had a political conscience.

Supporters of the Olympics believe that the Games embody the never-ending human quest for the ideal of absolute perfection, and as such should not be tainted by such petty concerns as politics, freedom, justice, fair play or human dignity – although, needless to say, money is fine.

A Complete and Utter Cult

Fourteen more members of a bizarre doomsday cult have abandoned their cave shelter 400 miles south-east of Moscow, saying that the partial collapse of their underground refuge was a message from God telling them to leave.

The cultists had been awaiting the end of the world, which their leader Pyotr Kuznetsov had predicted would happen in April or May. Mr Kuznetsov was not actually dwelling in the cave himself, having told his followers that God had different tasks for him, most of which regrettably involved the use of modern domestic conveniences, possibly connected with conducting further research into their Satanic barcodes.

Fourteen cultists remain inside the cave, where they are cut off by the landslide.

Deputy regional governor Oleg Melnichenko said the evacuees were in good health considering they had been underground for six months, had refused medical attention, and were now in a house praying for guidance, wisdom, enlightenment or, failing that, common sense.

The Postmodern Prometheus

A team of Newcastle University researchers have created the UK’s first human-animal hybrids, by implanting DNA from human skin cells into genetically-stripped cow eggs.

Just as the evil scientists were celebrating their unholy triumph by drinking a toast in blood, however, the mutant abominations crashed out of the laboratory, rending their presumptuous creators limb from limb. They then lurched through the streets of Newcastle, creating mayhem among the terrified peasantry. One of the hideous cells paused to play with an innocent child, but was driven off by a hail of stones hurled by plucky Catholic priests.

At bay, the ungodly egg monstrosities screamed defiance, claiming that they had not asked to be made, and only sought to live out their wretched lives in some remote fastness, well away from mankind. Their pleas fell on deaf ears, however, and they were last seen climbing aboard a northbound inter-city train in search of Scotland’s Cardinal O’Brien, seeking sanctuary.

Monday, 31 March 2008

Zimbabwe Celebrates Future With Optimism

In a surprise move, Robert Mugabe has graciously accepted defeat in the Zimbabwean elections and stepped down as President, effective immediately.

“I am happy to congratulate my honourable opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, and the Movement for Democratic Change on winning the election on Sunday fair and square,” beamed Mr Mugabe. “The Zimbabwean people have spoken, and I respect their democratic will. I have been President for 28 years, and in that period our country has toppled from prosperity to penury, and is now an economic basket case. Clearly I am not the man for the job, and it is high time I stepped aside and let someone competent take charge. I have nothing but respect for Mr Tsvangirai, and wish him every success in restoring the fortunes of our blighted nation.”

“I have instructed the security forces to co-operate fully with the MDC in order to facilitate a smooth transfer of power in the coming days,” he continued, “And I urge all my supporters to welcome a new dawn of peace and reconciliation.”

When asked about the numerous reports of vote-rigging and ballot-stuffing said to have taken place around the country, Mr Mugabe smiled and said, “Well, of course - I have a reputation to live up to, it’s expected of me. You can’t blame me for trying – but, really, my heart just isn’t in it any more. I am looking forward to a quiet retirement, well away from affairs of state. However, if my successor wishes to investigate the various crimes, abuses and outrages I committed during three decades of blind, dogmatic rule, then I will just have to stand trial and take whatever richly-deserved punishment is coming to me.”

“I really have been a disaster for this country,” added Mr Mugabe, with tears in his eyes, “And I just want to say I’m very, very sorry.”

All over the country, members of Mr Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party were reported to be enthusiastically hugging their successful MDC rivals in the dancing, cheering crowds thronging every city and village in Zimbabwe.

Mr Tsvangirai, meanwhile, was reported to be peering around cautiously from under a manhole cover.

Those Magnificent Men In Their Less-Than-Magnificent Flying Machines

April 1st sees the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force, and major celebrations have been planned to mark the event.

“We are planning a magnificent display of all our flying machines,” announced Air Vice Marshal Bigglesworth.

“The public can look forward to seeing the mighty Hercules transport, which will not go up-tiddly-up-up unless anyone fires at its unprotected fuel tanks. Super!

“That will be followed by the Nimrod maritime reconnaissance plane, which almost certainly won’t come down-tiddly-down-down in flames all by itself, as we’ve strapped Ginger into the bomb bay with a fire extinguisher. Good man!

“Then there will be a display by the new Typhoon interceptors - which will give the pilots something to do, because frankly it’s only good for intercepting Russian bombers, and we don’t see many of those nowadays. Jolly good!

“Next, there will be a tribute from our friends and allies the US Air Force, who will try not to accidentally drop any ordnance on Central London, or mistake a bendy bus for a hostile armoured personnel carrier. I say!

“Then a Chinook HC.2 will fly past at low level - unless it’s foggy of course - and will entertain the crowds with its wild gyrations as the pilot struggles with its exciting engine management system. Wizard prang!

“Finally, the Red Arrows will fly up the Thames to perform a thrilling aerobatic display of a kite that actually works, in the hope of flogging a couple to Johnny Foreigner. Chocks away!”

“Sadly, we can’t show off our huge C-17 Globemasters,” added the Air Vice Marshal. “We can only afford to rent those, and Boeing say public exhibitions aren’t covered by the terms of the lease. Toodle pip!”

Sunday, 30 March 2008

City Bosses Want Idiot Politician - No Change There Then

A survey of 100 City bosses suggests that 64% of them want Boris Johnson as the next Mayor of London – nearly three times the level of support enjoyed by Ken Livingstone, trailing at 24%.

At the same time, however, 63% said that the blond-haired Henley MP did not “seem serious” and 65% thought him “too much of a buffoon” – yet 55% think he would present a good image of London.

We asked our resident statistician to make sense of these apparently contradictory figures - but he just laughed, threw us a calculator and invited us to find the ‘accounting for human nature’ function. Reading between the lines, it seems that many of the best business brains in the world want an idiot running London.

Mr Johnson has come under attack over the weekend from the incumbent Mayor over his plans to reintroduce Routemaster buses and conductors. Mr Livingstone claimed the plans were wrongly costed, and would lead to a 15% fares increase, or £2 on a weekly pass.

Boris was unrepentant, however, and stoutly maintained that bendy buses were unmanouevrable, dangerous and, above all, unspeakably foreign. He said that once he had taken buses back to the 1950s, he would put steam engines and open carriages back on the Tube, replace the city’s taxis with horse-drawn hansom cabs, and tear down London’s bridges and bring back the traditional waterboatmen.
”Er, yes, quite,” said Mr Johnson. “Umm, steam engines and wagons and smoke and all that – pooh, crikey! Terrific stench, soot everywhere - peak-time congestion down, though, er probably. Of course! Er… right…er… where was I? That’s it, waterboatmen, yes, that’s the stuff! Rowing, that’s the chap, no pollution to speak of at all, you see? Jolly hard work, too - get some of these layabouts back to work - chop, chop, no standing about there! Horse-drawn cabs, indeed, very good for the environment, all that nonsense, votes in it though - also job creation, all that you-know-what, horsey stuff, draw a discreet veil over the details, needs to be swept up post haste, and very good for the roses too, say I. So… crumbs… er… yes! Vote Conservative! Carry on.”

And we hope to bring you a translation of Mr Johnson’s speech in plain English in tomorrow's bulletin.

Light-Bulb Turnoff Saves Planet - Evil Manufacturers Kicked to Death In Streets

Good news for the environment, as the planet was saved from total disaster by ‘Earth Hour’. Beginning in Sydney, people all over the world, who have been successfully convinced that the global energy crisis is all about them, self-righteously turned off a few lights around the house for an hour, then entertained themselves by glaring out of their windows at profligate neighbours who failed to join in.

Around the world, cities with an eye for cheap publicity joined in the stunt by turning off a few unnecessary illuminations at 8pm, then turning them all back on again at 9.

Meanwhile, vast juggernaut fleets of ships, aircraft and lorries continued on their unceasing journeys, hauling goods over unimaginable distances when they could just as well have been sourced locally; businesses continued to waste fortunes on lighting up empty buildings; factories churned out container-loads of slightly-redesigned consumer goods designed to replace perfectly-serviceable but suddenly-unfashionable models; and tourist legions flew home after their needless shopping and drinking weekends in foreign cities.

But nobody minded at all, because turning off a few light bulbs saved the world forever - or at least made people feel like they had, and that’s what matters.