The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, November 30, 2004

News 2020

Putting the wind up the first draft of history

Former Prime Minister and Nobel peace laureate Lord Blair of Belmarsh has come to the defence of the embattled Minister of Freedom, David Blunted, who has been accused by his ex-lover of putting body-belts earmarked for export to unauthorised use in their sex games.

Mr Blunted's affair with Salmonella Ryatt, a married sub-editor of the Sycophant's Monthly came to light two months ago when, after their last row, he placed her under a restraining order for anti-social behaviour and had her ID card confiscated, her home commandeered by the local Anti-Terror Volunteers and her children taken into care.

Ms Ryatt responded with allegations that Mr Blunted had abused his position as Minister of Freedom to take possession of a large stock of perpetrator restraint equipment which was destined for Latin America, and that his attentions meant she could no longer remain seated for long periods at a time.

The country erupted into indignation at the possibility that Mr Blunted might have interfered with Britain's exports, and several newspapers speculated that the distraction occasioned by his extracurricular activities could have helped cause the recent downward trend in asylum refusals. "In these troubled times of terrorism and excessive European integration," wrote the Daily Maul and the Daily Expurge, in chorus, "the last thing this country needs is a Minister of Freedom who takes his eye off the ball."

Lord Blair, speaking from the Tebbit prison complex on South Georgia, where a wing has just been named after him, said that Mr Blunted's morals were his own affair.

"What a minister does in the service of the public is not an appropriate matter for moral censure," said Lord Blair. "The secret is to recruit ministers with the appropriate temperament and perspective, so that the business of government can proceed as smoothly as is compatible with spreading democracy and doing good."

He had no hesitation in proclaiming his confidence in "the Prime Minister's ability to choose and in Mr Blunted's ability to weather the storm and stay the course and emerge purified from his ordeal, a still brighter, a yet more radiant beacon of virtue for having passed through this testing ordeal," Lord Blair concluded.

News 2020

When it eventually happens, you'll read here that we told you so

At least 150 people have been killed in an FBI raid on the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Temple in Texaco, WA. Special tactics teams backed up by tanks and Black Shrike helicopters invaded the temple building after a three-day siege of the grassy knoll which housed the compound.

The JFK Temple was one of many "small churches" in America which believe in the sanctity of the thirty-fifth President of the United States. Some hold to unorthodox theories about his assassination; several believe that he is still alive, possibly being held prisoner until clones can be produced and indoctrinated in sufficient numbers.

The JFK Temple at Texaco was one of the more extreme of these sects, as it believed that Kennedy was assassinated by a lone gunman and that the four million, six hundred and eighty-four thousand, two hundred and fifty-nine separate works written since 1964, with the express purpose of debunking the Warren Commission report, are partially or entirely mistaken.

The Temple's members also believed that Kennedy would rise again one day and redeem the world from the demonic spirit personified in the life and teachings of Richard Nixon. It is believed that, considering this "second coming" to be imminent, the Temple's members had locked themselves away in their compound to await the day of redemption.

"Just because we have freedom of worship doesn't mean we have to allow people to teach that kind of insane garbage to little children," said Cardinal Wadsworth P Mumford on hearing of the FBI raid. Cardinal Mumford, controversial chairman of the American Catholic Committee for Infant Sexual Guidance and author of the uncompromising apologia Suffer Them to Come on to Little Children, has claimed credit for alerting the FBI to the Temple's alleged abuse of the children of several of its members.

It is thought that between 150 and 200 of the 200-member sect were killed in the gunfight which took place when the FBI stormed the compound, when four FBI agents were slightly injured by friendly fire. "America is no place for religious fanaticism. This is God's own country," the cardinal said today, before offering a prayer that God would forgive any former Catholics among the Temple casualties.

Monday, November 29, 2004

News 2020

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

The President of the Democratic Republic of Baghdad, whose identity cannot be revealed for security reasons, has issued a determined statement emphasising the need to avoid giving in to terrorism. "That is exactly what the terrorists want us to do," the President said.

The strongly-worded statement, delivered in English with Arabic subtitles, went out on all moderate channels of Arabic TV and radio, and is thought to signal a new determined stance by the President in the war against unpleasantness.

"Everything about him shows he's sincere in this," said respected political commentator and ex-BBC director-general Andrew Marr, whose clairvoyant abilities are well known.

"That forthright manner of looking straight into the camera as he speaks indicates his honesty and determination. The hands calmly folded in the desk in front of him show that his palms are far less greasy than his enemies claim. His neatly-cut hair and lack of public child-eating indicate a man of methodical and compassionate temperament who is genuinely trying to do his best for his people," said Mr Marr.

In the West, the US Commander-in-Chief and the British Prime Minister welcomed the President's announcement. "There will certainly be no giving in to terrorists," said the Commander-in-Chief. "Our forces over there are at Baghdad's disposal. If Baghdad doesn't want our forces over there to give in to terrorism, then giving in to terrorism is just what our forces over there won't do."

The Prime Minister said that the President had shown himself a courageous and far-sighted statesman, and that he hoped the President would one day be able to leave Baghdad and be reunited with his family in Washington. The President spent many years in exile in the United States, working day and night with compassionately-conservative oil companies for the liberation of his country.

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 joined the US Commander-in-Chief in expressing "grave concern" at the outcome of the presidential elections in the Ukraine. The Commander-in-Chief expressed "grave concern" two days ago, while the Prime Minister expressed "grave concern" today. It is thought that both leaders are gravely concerned.

The elections have been overshadowed by violence from some of those who have been unable to afford the installation of a Diebechtel voting machine in their homes, and by supporters of the opposition candidate, who favoured a Russian brand of voting machine and is now claiming victory.

Ukraine's incumbent president, despite utilising drastic stabilising measures including suspension of constitutional rights and internment without trial, has favoured moderate economic policies. Under his rule, Ukraine has adopted an economic reconstruction programme which has concentrated almost 90% of the country's wealth into the hands of the most efficient fiftieth of the population.

His opponent, by contrast, has said he would seek closer ties with Russia, and has threatened to suspend constitutional rights and arbitrarily imprison opponents of his regime. When he declared victory two days ago amid accusations of voter intimidation and rigging of results, the Russian government was quick to recognise his claim.

However, in light of the grave concerns expressed by the Prime Minister and by Britain's ally, the United States, it is hoped that the Russians will moderate their stance and allow a genuinely democratic result to be declared.

"Obviously, what matters most in this matter is the will of the Ukrainian people," the Prime Minister said today.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

News 2020

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

Prospective parents will be able to use the free market to provide for their children's future under a new package of measures to be introduced during the next parliament, the Department of Child Welfare and Human Resource Conservation announced today.

Statistics show that children in Britain are better off since the abolition of welfare payments ten years ago. Radical campaigners claimed that the Government was fiddling the figures, until the Government stopped publishing poverty statistics two years ago, since when the record has improved almost beyond measure.

Nevertheless, the Prime Minister's personal commitment to social justice may once more shine beaconlike through the dry dust of legislative procedure when the new measures come before MPs next year.

The new law will provide parents with the opportunity to start payments for their child's upbringing and education within a few days of conception. The money will be paid to banks and investment firms under a special "embryonic mortgage scheme", and any profits can be used by parents to help pay for the child's clothes, schooling or medical care later in life.

The pilot scheme will be voluntary, but the Government is understood to be considering a compulsory version if the banks and investment firms involved deliver a positive verdict.

The opposition children's spokesperson, Ophidia Bumstead, has criticised the scheme as unworkable, saying it would place too great a financial burden on the private corporations which volunteered to administer it. "Involving the free market should not be made an excuse for the over-exploitation of Britain's entrepreneurial resources," Ms Bumstead stated.

Government spokesperson Balthazar Minge today dismissed Ms Bumstead's claims. "We believe this legislation will demonstrate the Government's commitment to investment-stimulated parental responsibility combined with fiscal prudentiality," he said.

News 2020

News so new it hasn't happened yet

The Commander-in-Chief and First Lady of the USA took time out from their onerous duties last night to attend the world premiere of Mitch Glander's remake of the sci-fi classic Attack of the Clones.

The original version, intended as part of Lucas Playhill's unfinished seventeen-part epic series, was recently voted one of the British public's favourite films of all time, after Brief Encounter, Casablanca and Carry On Camping.

Glander's much-awaited remake has been criticised for leaning too heavily on special effects and thus sacrificing some of the original's subtlety of characterisation and multilevelled complexity of dialogue; but the Commander-in-Chief pronounced it "very enjoyable and stimulating".

The Commander-in-Chief refused to comment on whether he had been inspired to adopt any of the futuristic methods of warfare depicted in the film. "Life does not always imitate art," he said.

But national security adviser General Abimelech K Limburger said that experiments with cloned troops had been considered by the military authorities for use in "initiative non-urgent situations".

Cloned soldiers could be bred with a set of simple instincts which would enable them to do whatever work was necessary without undue time and expense being spent on basic training, the General said. This would leave "genuinely human" troops free to undertake more complicated or demanding work, or simply to be discharged in a new "peace dividend".

A few soldiers have objected to the rumoured plans as being likely to put them out of a job. At least one veterans' association threatened to picket the Attack of the Clones premiere, but the Enhanced National Guard put up wheelchair-proof barriers confining the protesters to a "free speech zone" some two and a half miles from the theatre.

"Of course, in the movie the clones are used by an evil empire to try to suppress a plucky little republic, and in real life the situation's the exact reverse," said Mr Glander on hearing of the general's comments. "Sort of like life holding a mirror up to great art, rather than the other way about."

Saturday, November 27, 2004

News 2020

Putting the wind up the first draft of history

The pharmaceutical corporation SKG Health and Strength has entered the latest phase of its campaign to copyright various sounds of digestive discomfort as used in its advertising campaigns.

SKG advertisements use authentic noises of rumbling stomachs, gurgling ulcers and ascending gastric juices to emphasise the effects of their range of indigestion-soothing products. The corporation is seeking an injunction under US patent law, which is held by the US to apply without qualification in all spatial and temporal dimensions of the universe known and unknown.

The injunction would prohibit "all public belching, rumbling, gurgling or other sonic phenomena of a gastro-traumatic nature" unless the offender provided "due acknowledgement that such phenomena could be mitigatised by the use according to instructions of the relevant SKG Health and Strength products".

The US Department of Health has praised the corporation for its sense of social responsibility. "In effect, what they're saying is: be healthy or we'll sue the ass off you," said spokesperson Rigby Morbus at a mineral water and dyspepsia pill conference for journalists.

"This could be the start of a whole new approachification to the hitherto problematising question of public health," Mr Morbus continued. "Instead of the old system, where the healthy subsidised the sick in a nightmarish atmosphere of big-government liberalisation, we may now be entering a new phase of genuine social justice whereby corporate global citizens and those human resources into which God, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, has seen fit to put certain imperfections, can join hands and help one another."

News 2020

Balanced news from right on the fence

The British cricket team may condescend to play against Australia this year despite nearly 250 years of human rights abuses by the Australian government, revealed England captain Plunger Whitebait today.

Controversy initially erupted when British journalists drew attention to Australia's long history of human rights violations, which began in the eighteenth century when the British government started transporting convicts to Botany Bay.

Under the harsh laws of the time, people could be sentenced to transportation for minor offences such as petty theft, which under present laws would merit nothing worse than a lifetime in prison under the "three strikes" rule. Many such innocent convicts rapidly fell prey to the predations of predatory Aboriginal tribesmen who, even at that early stage of the continent's development, the Australian government appeared powerless to control.

Since then, the Aborigines' inability to understand due legal process with regard to land rights, and their inexplicable susceptibility to alcoholism, have proved to be considerable liabilities in securing whatever rights the Australian government considers it expedient to grant them subject to the contingencies of whatever circumstances may pertain at any given time.

Mr Whitebait's comments were welcomed as a "conciliatory gesture" by the Australian Sporting Society. The British Minister of Sport, Lionel Bowling-Boddington MP, said he hoped the England tour of Australia could now go ahead in a manner "unpolluted by ancient history".

Mr Bowling-Boddington said he had received "very considerable assurances" that the Australian habit of scoring more runs than the England team would be "kept within very reasonable limits" for the duration of the tour.

Friday, November 26, 2004

News 2020

When it eventually happens, you'll read here that we told you so

The introduction of performance-related pay for the police has been a resounding success, according to the Government's interpretation of the first league tables to be published under the new Enforcement Incentivisation Act.

The leader of the opposition, Boris Johnson, praised the courage and professionalism of the "faithful bobby on the beat", but criticised the Government for "forcing an unnecessary ethos of competition into the sacred groves of law and order".

The Enforcement Incentivisation Act enables local police to score points depending on their quality of customer service. The scoring system includes provision for solving crimes; lowering the rates of drug use, violent crime and anti-social behaviour; and, most lucrative of all, crime prevention. Authorities which rack up high scores will receive extra funding for the following year, the Home Office has promised.

The league tables published today show that more than 700 terrorist acts have been prevented by police in Britain during the past year. Most of the attacks were to have been in London, but others were planned in the country's inner cities and at a number of licensed fox hunts.

Among the 292 plots which were foiled in the planning stage were several to blow up Buckingham Palace and/or the Houses of Parliament; fourteen to crash aircraft into Nelson's Column; twenty-six to kidnap or assassinate the Prime Minister or his family members; more than forty to release deadly substances in the London Underground; and seven to murder leading sports personalities if and when such personalities should ever again emerge in the UK.

Another 369 plots, involving nearly five thousand suspects altogether, were detected and foiled in the difficult stage between conception and planning. These achievements by the police score very high in the league tables, since they involve detecting crimes which are not only uncommitted, but which have not even been discussed by those who might decide to commit them at some future date.

Thirty-nine plots which were foiled in the nick of time have not had their details released to the public, as the Home Office is marketing the film rights.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

News 2020

News so new it hasn't happened yet

Last month's suicide of a man on the Bush Memorial in Manhattan is being tastelessly exploited for political ends, the US Department of Homeland Happiness said today.

Mr Wilby Dunn, a 48-year-old New Yorker, shot himself beside the monument, which was erected on the "Ground Zero" site of what used to be the World Trade Centre, which was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, when America was attacked, triggering the war on terrorism to defend the world from being attacked as America was attacked on 11 September 2001.

Mr Dunn's family say that he had been depressed over the loss of his job, and that he had made some objections to the policy of the US government in the Middle East, Asia, Central America and New York. The family claim that Mr Dunn's opinions were within the limits prescribed for health reasons by US law, but the FBI are checking his personal computer for evidence of possible terroristic contamination.

Meanwhile, the family have raised strenuous objections to the portrayal of Mr Dunn, in a government information film, as an indirect victim of terrorism whose last earthly wish was to get close to the late Commander-in-Chief, George W Bush.

"We believe it's quite legitimate to interpret his last actions that way," said Homeland Happiness spokesperson Blyth Munsey. "We're trying to emphasise Mr Bush's closeness to the people, so it seems pretty reasonable to use the example of a man who spent his last moments communing with that immortal American soul."

Mr Munsey continued, "It's a real pity the family can't let him rest in peace. All they're going to achieve with this campaign of theirs is a bad reputation for themselves. There's just no denying Dunn and Bush were close. I mean, the guy's brains had to be scraped off the memorial."

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

News 2020

All the breaking news - fifteen years before events come together

At least 12 potential rioters were killed in New York today when the Enhanced National Guard fired on a demonstration of students demanding what they called "the return of constitutional rule". No Britons or famous people were hurt.

The crowd was estimated by police to contain up to 100,000 people. Federal anti-terrorist laws in the USA prohibit public gatherings of more than three persons except for the purposes of gospel singing or public executions. "If the mob was a hundred thousand strong, that means it contained at least 99,997 criminals," said city mayor Judy Ruliani. "This city does not tolerate organised crime on that scale or any scale."

Asked to comment on the political aspect of the demonstration, Ms Ruliani said, "This country works on the principle of one person, one vote. Belief in democracy is what makes Americans American. And anyone who doesn't agree gets his ass kicked. That's what the distinction is between democracy and mob rule."

New York police chief Vomer Gunk said he found the crowd's professed political purpose "deeply suspicious."

"If they wanted something to protest about, why didn't they protest about the levels of crime and drug use and vagrancy in this great city of ours?" he said. "This country has a constitution. We've always had a constitution. Why would they demonstrate against not having something we've already got?"

The so-called demonstration was probably organised by foreigners and composed of "ignorant liberal-educated kids" who had been duped into taking part, he said.

Asked whether he thought the National Guard had acted correctly in shooting the twelve casualties in the head, Mr Gunk declined to pass judgement for fear of prejudicing a possible future inquiry into the incident, but said he thought the deaths were accidental. "I'm sure the boys did their best," he said. "Standard procedure is to fire a warning shot over the perpetrator's head, but those kids were jumping up and down an awful lot."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

News 2020

Three times winner of the Guardian Media Group Award for Nuance

The Democratic Party of Uzbekistan is calling for the extradition of 82-year-old former president Islam Karimov, who is undergoing hospital treatment in Britain. The recently-legalised nationalist group claims that Mr Karimov's government committed thousands of political "disappearances" and murders around the turn of the century.

Although the Uzbek government has not joined in the calls for Mr Karimov's extradition, it is thought that they would welcome the opportunity to put him on trial and provide a high-profile scapegoat for the restive Uzbek population.

Many people in Uzbekistan object to the government's IMF-sponsored economic policies, which they blame for rising unemployment and shortages. The government's decision to join the military coalition in Iran has also been widely criticised. The Uzbek economy is in poor shape, so few people can afford televisions and the wider perspective they bring.

The British government is also thought to be embarrassed by the allegations against Mr Karimov, as he has lived in this country for several years and is a personal acquaintance of the former Prime Minister, Lord Blair of Belmarsh. Asked to comment about the allegations, Lord Blair said Mr Karimov had been a strong leader of his country.

"Strong leaders inevitably make enemies," he continued from his fortified bath-chair in Essex. "Winston Churchill made enemies. So did Margaret Thatcher, George W Bush, Alfred the Great and Jesus Christ. Even I made enemies," said Lord Blair.

Mr Karimov himself was unavailable for comment. Despite being a valued dinner companion and raconteur, he is said to be suffering from diabetes, memory loss, arthritis, leukaemia, irritable bowel syndrome and the primary stages of Alzheimer's disease. Some experts say that the memory loss could date from his time as president, raising doubts over the degree to which he may possibly have known about the crimes supposedly committed by the government of which he was said to be in charge.

The Democratic Party of Uzbekistan was banned for several years because of its extremism. Mr Karimov is in his eighties and was born in an orphanage.

Monday, November 22, 2004

News 2020

All the latest, very early

The Minister of Freedom, David Blunted, has issued a categorical denial that there is any conflict of interest at the heart of Britain's postal service. "I have every confidence that the Royal Mail will continue to be run as efficiently as ever," Mr Blunted said today.

Despite this scarcely-veiled admission that standards at the Royal Mail are slipping, Mr Blunted is sticking to his guns in the face of an attack by Tory wild cards which seems to have caught him with his pants down and may yet leave him with egg on his face if he paints himself into a corner.

The controversy arose over the revelation that senior executives at Stand and Deliver plc, the company which the Government has contracted to run the Royal Mail, are also shareholders in Sortout Inc., the company which the Ministry of Freedom has contracted to implement the Postal Safety Protocols.

The opposition claims that Sortout Inc. have been deliberately causing delays in the delivery of letters and packages sent by the ordinary post, thus providing a forcible incentivisation for customers to use the more expensive first-class or confidential delivery options.

Although all letters and parcels are opened and checked by Sortout Inc. for evidence of intention to facilitate the possibility of terrorist sympathisation, those sent by first-class mail are only checked by two separate teams. Items sent by confidential delivery are only disassembled under "exceptional circumstances" and are almost always reassembled afterwards.

The claims of a conflict of interest are "risibly ludicrous," said Mr Blunted today. "The close co-operation between the two companies is a necessary and important part of the process of giving Britain one of the best privately-run public postal delivery services in north-western Europe," he said.

News 2020

News so new it hasn't happened yet

The Government's safety measures to keep the number of suicides within acceptable statistical limits are discriminatory against most of the British people, the shadow health minister said today.

Emeric Chuckley MP singled out for criticism the recently-imposed legal requirement that paracetamol tablets be sold in quantities of no more than four at a time, and that a special electronic tag be placed on the purchaser's identity card to prevent their buying another box before eight hours have passed.

The Government imposed the new restrictions in the face of figures showing that, despite the Prime Minister's historically unique commitment to social justice, levels of depression in the country are at their highest since records began. Compulsory detention of people whose mood appears lower than the national average was introduced last year, but the measure seems to be losing its effectiveness due to the continued deflation in the nation's mood.

The suicide rate has been increasing continually since the mid-2010s, particularly among the young, and the Government has expressed deep concern on a number of occasions. "Obviously, Britain's effectiveness as an international competitor could be somewhat impaired if the teenage market is substantially reduced," said health minister Bilharzia Fison.

But, according to Mr Chuckley, the Government's proposed solution to the problem raises questions of discrimination against "substantial proportions of the British people." To begin with, Mr Chuckley said, the law prohibiting sale of large quantities of paracetamol is ineffective, since a person needs only to wait eight hours before being able to buy more tablets. The Government claims that the interval gives potential suicides more time to think about their situation and absorb news bulletins about lifestyle improvements.

However, Mr Chuckley says the law discriminates against people on medium and high incomes, as only such people have the financial wherewithal to continue buying tablets and the privacy to store them where they will not be found until there are enough to constitute an overdose. This is doubly disadvantageous, says Mr Chuckley, as it not only causes excessive wastage among the very people who might otherwise put money into the economy, but it prevents from committing suicide those who have the most reason for doing so; namely those financially worst off and those unwilling to find gainful employment.

"These laws are an outrage on British democracy," Mr Chuckley said. "There can be little doubt in anyone's mind that what we are seeing here is backdoor socialism at its worst. All the old vices are here: government interference in private affairs, subsidies for the inefficient. These statutes are nothing short of class war."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

News 2020

When it eventually happens, you'll read here that we told you so

The US government has called on China to pay more attention to "liberty enforcement" in the matter of religion. Although China has done much to improve its economic and human rights record since becoming one of America's most favoured trading and banking partners, work still remains before it can take its place among the world's truly civilised nations, said the US Secretary of State.

American concerns centre on the Chinese Patriotic League, an evangelical sect with an increasingly large following, particularly among young Chinese. Among other things, the Patriotic League believes that China has a "historic mission" to lead the world and purify it of "undesirable elements".

It is thought that some of the higher echelons of the Chinese government may already have been penetrated by members of the Patriotic League, and that this may partly account for China's hardline stance on such issues as the US presence in Taiwan.

"The United States and its allies, which have always stood up for freedom of thought and the brotherhood of mankind, cannot stand idly by while this irrational and divisive indoctrination of the young is taking place," said the Secretary of State.

"The leaders of this Chinese sect have obviously taken certain ideas and twisted them so as to manipulate their followers," he went on. "The noble truths of manifest destiny, full spectrum dominance and war on evil must not be allowed to be distorted in this insidious fashion," he said.

The Secretary of State called on the Chinese government to intervene and settle the problem. "Religious freedom is a basic human right, which if necessary must be enforced by whatever means are appropriate to the situation," he said. "If these fanatics are not brought under proper control, they might even start sending out missionaries."

News 2020

Putting the wind up the first draft of history

Journalists in the British press have been warned by the Government that unacceptable levels of bias may result in tighter regulation to ensure a proper degree of independence. The Minister for Public Enlightenment through the Media, Campbell del Manson, says that media commentators spend too much time analysing the Government's mistakes while paying almost no attention either to its successes or to the awesome nobility of its motives.

Despite all that the Government had achieved, said Mr del Manson, on any given day the majority of headlines in most newspapers would focus on difficulties, problems and "actual or manufactured scandals - too often, I regret to say, manufactured scandals going under the once respected name of 'investigative journalism'".

Mr del Manson named as examples the recent publication by the Guardian of British casualty figures in the Middle East, and the Daily Cloaca's allegations that the former Prime Minister, Lord Blair of Belmarsh, once said that the Labour party should not be embarrassed to call itself socialist.

"Both of these stories represent quite unnecessary smears against our boys defending the country from the terrorist threat, and against one of the greatest Prime Ministers of modern times," said Mr del Manson.

Both newspapers were quick to respond to the minister's accusations. The Daily Cloaca is expected to run a front page story tomorrow stating that it never actually referred to Lord Blair as a socialist, and apologising for any offence caused by the "misunderstanding".

Guardian columnist Preston Kettle, who has often criticised the Government for failing to take sufficient account of public stupidity in putting its message across, has offered to crawl over broken glass from King's Cross to the Houses of Parliament while the Minister for Public Morals flogs him with a rubber truncheon.

Asked to comment today, Mr del Manson said he was aware of the newspapers' reaction, and that he awaited the Cloaca's retraction "with interest and hope". Mr del Manson said he could not comment on the Guardian offer until the appropriate Ministry had been informed; although he did give his personal opinion that "it wouldn't be quite fair to put the sins of the whole press corps on a single pair of buttocks."

Saturday, November 20, 2004

News 2020

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

Russia has called on the US and Britain to use "constructive engagement" more in their policy towards Iran. "Constructive engagement" as a policy had a brief vogue some years ago, and is still favoured by certain members of the European Union who view with suspicion the more dynamic policy preferred by Britain and its American partner.

The Iranian government in exile, which is thought to be operating from Russia, may have offered the Russian government concessions on Iran's remaining oil in return for putting in a good word at the United Nations, experts said. The Russian foreign minister, Boris Bezumniev, dismissed this analysis as "conspiracy theory".

Iran has substantial oil reserves, but extraction is difficult owing to the continuing insurgency by Islamic fanatics and foreign fighters from neighbouring Iraq. Although there are no British troops in Iran, the Prime Minister has said it may prove necessary to send "a few of the boys" along if Russia becomes militarily involved. Any British troops who were sent would be used purely in a peacekeeping role and would all be home for their birthdays, the Prime Minister said.

The US-led invasion of Iran, by American, Israeli and Uzbek troops, was undertaken to enforce international nuclear protocols after Iran attempted to develop nuclear weapons. The hardline Islamic government seems to have reasoned that the US would not attack a nuclear power, despite the fact that, at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, nobody was in the slightest doubt that the dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction poised to obliterate the free world.

"They seem to have applied a sort of crude version of the idea of deterrence," said veteran US diplomat Altair-Voyager Rice, whose memoirs are being spell-checked by lawyers for the estate of the late George W Bush. "They don't seem to have realised that having a nuclear deterrent is not at all the same thing as possessing weapons of mass destruction."

Despite suffering suspended democratisation on account of the insurgency, Iran was better off without the mad mullahs, Dr Rice said. "And the world is better off, too. That war has proved once and for all that no so-called nuclear deterrent is going to work in the wrong hands," she said.

News 2020

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

One of the Middle East's most popular game shows could be cancelled because of creative differences between creative and production teams, according to the Democratic Republic of Baghdad's news outlet, United Sovereign Agencies.

The game show, which is produced with American expertise under the Oil for Culture programme, is watched by thousands inside the Democratic Republic and is thought to be picked up secretly by many of the millions living outside Baghdad who are awaiting liberation from the insurgents and foreign fighters who oppress them.

The show's presenters, floor managers and technical staff, who are mostly natives learning the basics of show-business from American advisers, claim they are owed months' worth of back salary and that the money being spent on the show could be better used elsewhere.

Many insurgent groups have condemned the Democratic Republic's media as decadent, materialistic and pro-American, and the US government says that watching game shows is a capital offence in areas controlled by the militants. There is little reliable information about areas controlled by US-backed independent forces, but it is thought that watching game shows is optional in many of them, with the death penalty used only as a last resort.

"There's no doubt that the TV shows put out by Free Baghdad Information are incredibly popular in the area," said creative adviser Colonel Ramford B Tucker yesterday. "The game shows are especially appreciated because the prizes sometimes include free food or holidays in quieter parts of the world."

Some shows offered holidays in western countries as prizes, but this practice fell out of favour when a number of winning contestants refused to return home after their visas expired. Several prizewinners are believed to be still at large in the United States, where the government has declared them potential terroristic elements.

Friday, November 19, 2004

News 2020

All the breaking news - fifteen years before events come together

The number of asylum seekers legally entering Britain failed to drop again last month, causing speculation that the guidelines for legal entry may need tightening up once again.

This is the fourth consecutive month in which the numbers of successful applications for asylum have failed to drop, and members of Parliament from all sides indicated their concern during question time. The Minister for Immigration and Expulsion, Eugene Trueblood, admitted that the figures were "disappointing", and said that the Government would "give very serious consideration to the appropriateness of any measures which may be considered to be appropriate."

At the beginning of its term, the Government was able to take a certain pride in the effectiveness of its asylum seeker policy. Mr Trueblood himself presided over fourteen months of increased refusals of political asylum and an unprecedentedly consistent level of deportation. Many of the deportations were to the then newly installed military regime in Chile, with which Britain recently signed an extradition treaty in memory of General Augusto Pinochet, whose declining years were spent in happy retirement in the UK.

The leader of the British Exit Europe Party, Robert Kilroy-Silk, criticised the Government for "pandering to Continental sensibilities at a time when the country is under literal siege". Hordes of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants surrounded his constituents every time they set foot out of doors, Mr Kilroy-Silk said. "If the Government continues with this deplorable policy of lackadaisicality, every British beach will be clogged with Chinese cockle-pickers, to the serious detriment of the tourist industry," he concluded, to widespread agreement.

Mr Trueblood responded that the remarkably fine condition of Britain's beaches was indeed one of the country's main tourist attractions, particularly in the sub-tropical south.

News 2020

It isn't true yet, but it will be

New Home Office measures to counter the rising tide of crime are not radical enough and will breach the ancient rights of British citizens which date back to Magna Carta, Boris Johnson warned today.

Speaking at a centre-right gathering in Tolpuddle Street, the opposition leader criticised the Government's plans to introduce "default arrest mode" for certain new-borns whose parents or grandparents have shown signs of criminal tendencies.

Previous Home Secretaries had removed the impediment of habeas corpus and the expensive and often inconclusive process of jury trials, all of which represented a rational slimming down of the judicial system, Mr Johnson said.

But the new measures, which the Home Secretary plans to introduce in two to three years, have not been properly thought out and will lead to a "bureaucratic, near-totalitarian system", Mr Johnson claimed.

"Default arrest mode", or DAM, is the process whereby certain neonates with a possible genetic predisposition towards antisocial behaviour can be identified early and monitored before they go wrong, the Home Office says. Such people would be identified by a clear but unobtrusive mark, such as a small black triangle tattooed on the forehead, and would electro-tagged at birth and kept under surveillance until it could be established beyond a reasonable doubt that they would never commit a crime.

Mr Johnson called the proposed measures "almost Liverpudlian in their crudity," and said they made no allowance for the individuality of the individuals concerned. At the very least, he said, potential white-collar criminals should be clearly differentiated from the more violent types, perhaps with a different coloured triangle, as this would help them later in life when seeking employment.

But a far better solution, he said, would be to adopt the opposition's radical crime-cutting plan to wall up two or three selected inner cities and drop potential criminals into them by parachute. "An efficient human being is a social human being," claimed Mr Johnson; so the most socially adept people would automatically rise to prominence inside the cities and possibly earn parole by policing the rest.

The Home Office has rejected Mr Johnson's plan as being too expensive, lacking in compassion and undermining of family values.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

News 2020

Making the present look like paradise

The generation born between 1995 and 2005 will have a radically different experience of parenting compared with preceding generations, a new report suggests. Social trends towards late parenting, and ongoing lifestyle transformations, will mean that those now entering maturity may have more positive relationships with their children than has ever before been possible, the report's compilers claim.

The report, which was commissioned by the Ministry for Productive Child Development, notes that children growing up between 1995 and 2005 had greater access to cheap advanced technology than any previous generation. However, thanks to reforms in education and the explosion in numbers of single and/or working mothers, they also had a less consistent schooling and a less settled home life.

Since the early 2000s, however, education has become increasingly the privilege of the few qualified to pay. Now that consumer goods are labelled exclusively with pictorial images rather than words, there is no longer a need for many people to learn to read at all. Similarly, the educative potential of television and the internet is increasingly utilised by those who can afford the fees for quality channels and highbrow servers.

This means that the children of the 1995-2005 generation - the majority of whom will be born between about 2030 and 2040 - will be the first on record whose general living standard is lower than that of their parents' generation. They will be, on average, less well nourished, less exposed to parental interference in their formative years, and less likely to be able to read anything more complicated than a road sign or a retro-fashion advertising slogan.

All these developments will contribute positively to these children's relationship with their parents, says the report. Rather than being resented for having a higher living standard than their parents, these children will have the sympathy of their parents because of their comparative lack of opportunity and leisure. The children will also have to grow up faster than their parents did, according to one of the report's co-authors.

"It's a well-known fact that human resources in Third World countries achieve their mature potentialities far earlier than those in wealthier nations," explained psychologist Dr Theophilus Clenchwater. "In the coming decades, we would expect to see the age for marriage and childbirth dropping steadily, and of course the age for progressive defunctitude dropping in a similar fashion."

The rapid onset of maturity in the children, says the report, could be a major factor in eliminating the so-called "generation gap", particularly when coupled with the lack of maturity in parents who spent their early lives playing solitary fantasy games with advanced computers and acquisitive/emotional games with separated parents.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

News 2020

All the breaking news - fifteen years before events come together

Third Worlders' awareness of Christmas was significantly raised last year thanks to the AfrAid concert in early December, agencies have revealed. The tradition of staging concerts to raise Christmas awareness in the poorer countries of the world began in the mid-1980s, when the single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and the famous Live Aid concert did much to relieve the plight of starving Ethiopia.

The effort was so successful that nothing was heard of Live Aid until twenty years later, when a cover version of the original record was made in aid of war-torn Sudan. Ten years after this, a new version was recorded and topped the Christmas charts for almost the whole season from late August to late January. The proceeds were donated to starving, war-torn Mozambique.

The AfrAid concert last year was held to mark the release of another new version of the song and to provide help for war-torn, starving Ghana. Despite repeated efforts by the Overseas Development Minister, Clare Kurtz, to rationalise the water supply in Ghana and other countries, many natives remain unwilling to accept globalising initiatives. Unfortunately, the increased awareness of many that Christmas falls in December has done little to alter their attitude in this regard.

AfrAid founder Bub Fedgull says he hopes to remedy the situation by holding concerts on an annual basis from now on, with new versions of the single possibly every six months; but experts believe that for a genuine solution, a different approach may be required. In a statement today, the Overseas Development Minister commended Mr Fedgull and AfrAid for their efforts but said that real improvements in Africa's situation would require radical structural change.

"It isn't enough simply to throw food and money at the problem every festive season," said Ms Kurtz, speaking with characteristic outspokenness. "For any permanent improvement to take place, there has to be a profound, long-term commitment to efficientiating these backward economies and incentivising people to help themselves. And that's exactly what Sub-Saharan Water does," she said, alluding to the British-owned company which owns and regulates Ghana's water supplies. "It helps itself, and in doing so encourages people to buy British, and that helps them and helps Britain too."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

News 2020

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

Fifteen years on, historians may finally be reaching a consensus on how many collateral detrimentations occurred during the first two phases of the war on unpleasantness in Iraq. The war has traditionally been divided into three phases: liberation (March 2003), primary counterinsurgency (March 2003-January 2005) and strategic democratisation (2005-present day).

Historians now say that over 100,000 people may have been killed during the second phase alone. Precise figures are not available because the interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, neglected to order the US military to keep any.

The US government has expressed concern that the figures are so high and has questioned the methodology involved. The mortality rate of 100,000 resembles the figure arrived at by the British medical journal and hotbed of anti-Americanism, The Lancet, late in 2004. The methods used in the Lancet survey have been vigorously debunked by a number of commentators, and the survey is not much read nowadays.

The American Secretary of State said that the United States would "take very seriously on board" the lessons of the past. The US was always concerned to minimalise civilian casualties, he said.

Even during recent operations in Mosul and Basra, when fanatically shrieking toddlers hurled themselves into soldiers' line of fire, the hair-trigger instincts of the US Marines were so fine-tuned that almost none of the damagees lost more than one limb, said the Secretary. This claim was borne out by the reporting of the BBC's embedded journalist Butch Woodpile, who himself chalked up three confirmed kills during the incident.

In the seasonally adjusted figures for this month, peacekeeping forces have registered a total of 1,492 Iraqi casualties, including 974 insurgents, 229 actual and potential suicide bombers who were pre-emptively neutralised, 146 safe-house keepers, 58 high-ranking officers in numerous terrorist organisations, and 85 accidental and collateral detrimentations. The original figure was 107, but nineteen were re-graded as insurgents and three as terrorist leaders.

Monday, November 15, 2004

News 2020

When it eventually happens, remember you read it here first

British workers have had it too soft for too long, the Chancellor warned in a forthright speech to the TUC today. He deplored what he called "the culture of rights without responsibilities" which he said had made the British worker one of the least competitive in Europe.

Despite working longer hours for lower wages and fewer benefits than almost any other nation, the British people had not yet learned that asking for extra benefits wastes valuable company time, the Chancellor said.

The time was fast approaching, he said, when Britain would have to compete directly with the so-called "sweat-shop economies" of south-east Asia, Latin America and California. As such, the country would not be able to afford to pay uncompetitive wages or permit workers to claim unrealistic perks such as breaks, expenses or pension plans, the Chancellor said.

The speech comes as the Netrail North-South industrial dispute enters its fifth week, with train drivers protesting at the outsourcing of their jobs. The drivers claim that customer safety will be endangered by the company's use of satellite-linked remote control operators in the Punjab. Netrail says that the railways will not be made significantly more dangerous than they already are.

The Government has repeatedly criticised Netrail for failing to solve the dispute or to take any action other than locking the drivers out. Netrail claims that the dispute is now a public order problem, and has called on the Government either to send in troops or armed police, or to pay Netrail executives to take courses in marksmanship and survival techniques.

Trade union leaders responded to the Chancellor with qualified enthusiasm. Although he did not receive a standing ovation, the atmosphere in the Millennium Dome conference hall improved markedly when he confirmed that union leaders would soon be able to claim tax rebates if they invested in the companies whose human resources they were advantagising.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

News 2020

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

The United States Secretary for Public Health, Mr Wrath-of-the-Lord-Descending-Upon-the-Unrighteous Buchanan, is reported to be in "good condition" after his operation in France.

Mr Buchanan - known affectionately as "Walt" because of his first four initials and the fact that most White House staff are functionally illiterate - was flown to Paris last week after a medical check-up revealed a flare-up of what is thought to be a hereditary complaint.

Under America's so-called "Leviticus The Sequel" statutes, genetic research for any purposes other than military ones is outlawed in the USA, so Mr Buchanan was forced to seek help in Europe. The nature of Mr Buchanan's problem has not been revealed during press conferences, and his oxygen tent is fitted with an alarm device and four compact but heavily armed Marines.

Rumours that he referred to the French doctors as "them Arafat-licking Euro-sodomisers" have been extensively refuted on the grounds of Mr Buchanan's dislike of profane language and his total ignorance of history between the end of the New Testament and the adoption of the Homeland Constitution.

Mr Buchanan has been in charge of public health in the USA for nearly seven years. During that time he has pioneered such measures as the Spiritual Welfare Act, designed to "get people out of state hospitals and into church", and the Sabbath Day Act, which outlawed paid labour, dancing, excessive smiling and idleness on Sundays. Since the Sabbath Day Act was passed, Mr Buchanan has been campaigning to get these activities outlawed during the rest of the week also.

News 2020

News so new it hasn't happened yet

The Government will introduce a new Mental Health Bill in an attempt to control the number of loners and other miseries on Britain's streets, the Department of Health has revealed.

Studies show that persons with depressed personalities tend to be more discontented with life as they find it. In times of instability and terrorist threat, such discontentment can prove dangerous, particularly if it becomes translated into action, the Government said.

"They often feel resentment against society, or even against the Government itself," said psychiatrist Dr Theophilus Clenchwater. "Such people tend to feel that they are not in charge of their own lives, that unknown, impersonal forces are ready to crush them at any opportunity, or even that the world is in danger of being destroyed altogether."

Until now, the Government has sought to control such delusions simply by closing libraries and increasing working hours to enforce an atmosphere of social inclusivity. However, the recent attempt by a paranoid schizophrenic to perform invasive surgery on the Minister for Public Morals has given rise to concern that more stringent measures are required.

The new Bill will give health trusts discretionary powers to detain people who are on their own too much or whose unhappiness exceeds the national average as determined by the Home Office's league tables.

Pharmaceutical corporations have greeted the Government's announcement as a welcome enhancement of their opportunities to make the world a happier place. "This is a natural and logical extension of our new freedom to explore the health marketplace in quest of ever more extensive customer acquirement resource potentialities," said a spokesperson from drug company SKG Health and Strength.

No announcement has been made as to whether those detained under the new Mental Health Act will be subject to discretionary imposition of their rights under the Voluntary Euthanasia Act, as paranoid schizophrenics and chronic personality disorders are at present.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

News 2020

It isn't true yet, but it will be

Two British security contractors have been killed by an automotively-mounted domestically-assembled explosive device (AMDED) in the outskirts of Basra in Iraq. The men have not yet been named pending notification of next of kin and filing of insurance claims, but they are known to have been attached to the 951st Princess Diana Division, which specialises in land-mine oriented proactive defensive procedures and spontaneous infant-directed acts of largesse.

The deaths bring to 479 the total of British personnel killed in the Basra region since the last insurgency but one was officially declared suppressed for the second time. The Prime Minister said that he was "shocked and saddened" at the news.

"All our hearts must go out to the families and loved ones of these men, who have been brutally murdered by a callous enemy," he said. The terrorists were "an irrational and fanatical force of evil," he continued, with a "blind and bigoted hatred of any and all troops in their country who do not happen to be their own." This attitude of "deadly noncosmopolitanism," he said, could not be permitted to flourish in an ever more interconnected global society.

None of the various terrorist groups in Basra, which comprise an estimated 67% of the population, have yet claimed responsibility for the blast. Experts say that the lack of warning and the ferocity of the attack indicate that it may have been another operation by the blind snaggle-toothed ex-insurance salesman and Islamopath Mossad ar-Qiddinyu, who has cunningly evaded capture for several years despite his followers being decimated at least three times a day by smart bombs and "overinterrogation phenomena".

As news of the latest human tragedy in the region went out, British commanders were rallying their units. "We can't afford to let this kind of thing go on without retaliating," said Lieutenant-Colonel Vernon Wimsey. "It's painful to have to do it, but we're just going to have to go through the city again and democratise until these incidents stop. Democratise with extreme prejudice," he said.

News 2020

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

Trafalgar Square, the well-known London tourist attraction and pigeon sanctuary, is to have a facelift next year, the junior Heritage and Culture minister, Victoria Beckham, announced today.

The site of Nelson's Column has suffered some slight damage over recent years because of the number of tourists who flock to admire the famous monument and the statues of other British military heroes in the square. Also to blame is the square's status as a sanctuary for London's pigeons, which have become rare in the last decade owing to the predations of asylum seekers and benefit claimants.

Many low-income elements still persist in catching and eating the birds, although the Health and Welfare Department has repeatedly pointed out that the city contains far more rats than pigeons.

The presence of the birds means that the fountains surrounding Nelson's Column have become blocked, and the statues of British military heroes - Napier, Havelock, King George IV and Norman Schwarzkopf - are nearly unrecognizable.

The Heritage and Culture Department proposes to replace the stationary statues with automated replicas of the four men, which will talk about their exploits at the push of a button. Credit card slots will be installed in the base of each plinth, and proceeds will be used by Westminster's Shirley Porter Memorial Cleaning Company for the maintenance and upkeep of the square.

The Government will also consider installing security measures to deal with the problem of pigeon poachers. "We're looking at infra-red detectors and automatic riot guns in the lions' mouths," said Ms Beckham. Another possibility might be to rent riot guns and plastic ammunition to the tourists, thus utilising the assistance of responsible members of the public in removing the poachers.

"We're considering a number of options," Ms Beckham said. "But the public can rest assured that, one way or another, our British heritage will be protected."

Friday, November 12, 2004

News 2020

All the latest, very early

The Government is to consider whether mention of civilian casualties in war and the suffering of refugees following natural disasters is unduly traumatic for viewers of news programmes, the Department of Public Enlightenment revealed today.

Viewers' organisations and the recently privatised official monitor, Television Watching Audiences Trust, have expressed increasing concern over the effect on TV audiences of images of starving or bereaved people. Casualty figures could also be a problem, even on the frequent occasions when no actual figures are cited.

"Even if you say that no civilian casualty figures are available, you're still raising the spectre of those casualties in the public imagination," said media consultant Bradley Ichneumon. "And as for showing images of the starving when people are just settling down for a quiet evening's viewing, naturally it's a very traumatic experience for the audience."

Mr Ichneumon has also criticised the showing of programmes with text-only credits. His researches show that the absence of a voice-over can cause feelings of inferiority in the illiterate and uneducated - the very group who constitute Britain's largest and most lucrative TV market.

The BBC says it has tried to get around the problem of civilian casualty reports by embedding all its war correspondents with the attacking forces. Since embedded correspondents never see civilian casualties in the making, all that remains is the thrill of vicarious combat and the vital public information contained in the reports, said a BBC spokesperson.

But Mr Ichneumon is no longer certain that the BBC approach is enough. He is presently engaged in drawing up a report about the legal risks for broadcasters who inflict traumatic images on their viewers. The Department of Public Enlightenment says that it is awaiting Mr Ichneumon's findings with interest.

"We may need to look at legislation to protect viewers from this kind of input," said junior minister Mogadon Fleece. "Of course, we shall also need to protect the corporations against the possibility of being damaged by the lawsuits."

Under legislation thought to be scheduled for the next Parliament, broadcasting corporations would be able to offload compensation costs onto the families of those mentioned in the offending broadcasts. In the case of Third World citizens, the costs could simply be added to their countries' debt to the West. "The fairest and best solution may indeed be to outsource the compensation to the source of the problem," said Mr Fleece.

News 2020

When it eventually happens, remember you read it here first

The King, Queen, Prime Minister and leading members of Parliament attended yesterday's Remembrance Day remembrances at the Cenotaph in London.

In a reverent silence broken only by the noise of explosions as police suppressed fuel riots in the City, the King and Prime Minister laid wreaths of poppies by the monument to Britain's military casualties.

A parade of the few remaining veterans of the Second World War followed, while in Westminster Abbey both Provisional Archbishops of Canterbury conducted solemn ceremonies in which they prayed for an end to some of the world's unpleasantness (Dr Lionel Marmaduke Lilliwhyte, liberal wing) and for the conquest and damnation of all infidels (Reverend Jebediah Icke, evangelical wing).

In accordance with the Revised Establishment Act, both Archbishops spoke simultaneously for ten minutes at equivalent volume, with the monarch and Prime Minister sitting in the aisle between them to symbolise ecclesiastical reconciliation and equality.

At the end of the day, an antique Lancaster bomber, owned by the Smithsonian National Full Spectrum Dominance Museum in Washington DC, dropped poppy petals into the Thames in remembrance of the British and American servicemen and civilian contractors killed in action since 1918 and the victory over the Afghan drug lords in 2002.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

News 2020

News so new it hasn't happened yet

The former Israeli leader and frequent nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, Ariel Sharon, has died in his sleep aged 92. Mr Sharon had been unwell for some time, but family and friends who were at his bedside said that his last hours were peaceful "as befits a servant of God."

Mr Sharon first rose to prominence as a hero of the Israel-Palestine conflict when, as a soldier attempting to bring order to the Beirut refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, he was faced with overwhelming numbers of terrorists using women and children as human shields. In a signal demonstration of religious tolerance, he allowed Christian forces into the camps, but this liberal pluralism was ill rewarded by the Palestinian side.

Later, as minister of construction and housing, Sharon did his best to solve the terrible overcrowding in what were then known as the "occupied territories", a policy he continued as prime minister. More houses were built in the territories under Sharon's leadership than under any previous Israeli government. The Palestinian leadership, apparently consumed with jealousy, denounced the new estates as "illegal settlements".

Arab opinion was further incensed by Sharon's visit to Temple Mount, formerly the site of the Al Aksa mosque. Horrified at this gesture of reconciliation, the Palestinians began an intifada, or ritual stoning, of any and all Israelis they caught in the "occupied territories", and a violent campaign of terrorism inside the borders of the besieged Jewish state.

Despite these setbacks, Sharon continued working with US Commander-in-Chief George W Bush to ensure peace in the Middle East. Several road maps and generous offers were made with this end in mind, but all were rejected by the Palestinians. Even now, the pathetic remainder of the Palestinian people, crowded into refugee megacamps, seem incapable of settling for the best that Israel is prepared to give them.

The British Foreign Secretary spoke for many when he said, in tribute to Sharon, "History will judge it as tragic that his opponents were unable or unwilling to go the extra mile at a crucial time, and it is to be hoped that future Israeli leaders will rise to the example he has set."

News 2020

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

The US Attorney General, Ashley Undercroft, has been humanely removed from office after a long illness, the White House revealed today. He had suffered from hydrophobia for many years, and had recently begun foaming uncontrollably and attacking the decanters at meetings. The Commander-in-Chief, a long-time hunting enthusiast, did Mr Undercroft the honour of wielding the shotgun himself.

Mr Undercroft was one of the most pro-active Attorneys General in recent years, and sponsored a host of initiatives, from painting clothes onto nude portraits (for which he received a Turner Prize nomination) to creating the National Patriotism Database, which he hoped would eventually document the degree of volume and enthusiasm behind any rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner taking place in the United States.

His most famous initiative was probably the Temptation and Resistance Act, which legalised what used to be called "entrapment" by offering potential sinners a chance to overcome their baser instincts and refuse to commit crimes.

Mr Undercroft, who was largely illiterate and signed documents with a rubber stamp, also dictated the Revised Reformed Amended Patriot Act of 2016, which gave the FBI the right to arrest and incarcerate anyone suspected of harbouring indecent thoughts. This led to a massive increase in the number of adolescents behind bars, and Mr Undercroft was commended by the White House for nipping the "juvenile crime epidemic" in the bud.

Mr Undercroft would be remembered as a fine Attorney General and a good Christian, said the Commander-in-Chief; but fortunately, with the levels of religious indoctrination and political and sexual repression now prevalent in the United States, he would not be all that difficult to replace.

The Commander-in-Chief announced Mr Undercroft's departure personally to the White House press corps. He spoke with obvious emotion, looking down frequently at the Attorney General's body slung neatly head-down across the podium.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

News 2020

Putting the wind up the first draft of history

The memorial service for Commander-in-Chief George W Bush, held in the ruins of Falluja yesterday, passed off smoothly and without incident, the US State Department said today.

As the Elephants and Stripes was raised over the desatanified ruins of a mosque, several hundred attendees stood in respectful silence while their radiation suits glittered in the afternoon sun.

The White House's Assistant-Vice-Under-Secretary for Public Relations gave a brief two-hour address on Mr Bush's character and achievements, ending with the hope that the war against evil which Mr Bush began will soon be brought to another successful conclusion.

The destruction of Falluja was undertaken in the early 2000s because the city refused to hand over the one-legged Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who had pledged allegiance to the cave-dwelling Osama bin Laden in a ruthless terrorist pact of terrorist ruthlessness.

Ironically, Zarqawi escaped from Falluja just before the entry of American-led independent Iraqi forces from what is now the Democratic Republic of Baghdad. It is thought that Zarqawi perpetrated numerous terrorist acts in Najaf and Ramadi, pausing only to chop off the heads of several innocent people in Basra before fleeing the country.

Opinion is divided as to whether Zarqawi is now dead, or has had plastic surgery and rejuvenation treatment in Switzerland. The US cruise missile attack on Geneva two years ago appears only to have made the Swiss authorities more obstinate in their denials that Zarqawi has ever been in their country.

Meanwhile, the hunt continues for the one-eyed, toothless, four-foot-high terrorist leader Murdhuras Qam al-Q'rap, who is thought to be behind many of the terrorist atrocities taking place in and around the Democratic Republic of Baghdad today.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

News 2020

When it eventually happens, remember you read it here first

London Underground plc has given "cautious approval" to the activities of volunteer customer safety enforcement groups in its trains and stations. The groups, which have been labelled "vigilantes" by some, also operate on Britain's other functioning metropolitan undergrounds, but London's are the first to gain official sanction.

London Underground's move comes as crime figures for the Tube rose for the seventy-ninth month running. The crowded platforms and trains make ideal opportunities for pickpockets, bag-snatchers, rapists and potential terrorists, many of whom are thought to be disappointed asylum seekers.

Peace Under Ground, the private enforcement company which is contracted to police the Tube, can no longer cope with the wave of crime. "We can't man every platform and every train all the time," said spokesperson Rory Scupper. "We have to do what's best for the passengers and economically viable for us." Peace Under Ground has now limited its operations to twelve carefully selected stations in Westminster and the City of London.

The volunteer customer safety enforcement groups operate a decentralised and informal system, and profits are secured on a commission basis. "They just steam through in a gang, wipe out the opposition and nick their money," said a delighted London Underground regular customer today. "Sometimes they'll string them up and let them dangle in the mouth of the tunnel as an example. It's very entertaining and it helps the kids learn, too."

London Underground is hopeful that the groups' activities will substantially reduce the incidence of reported crime on the Tube. "We suspect a lot of the reports of violence were by the very elements we're hoping to remove," said LU chairman Marvin K Mattock. "These people always try to use the British system against the British people, and that's what's happened to us. Now we've passed a rule that says complaints against the volunteer enforcers are invalid, and we expect a healthy reduction in reported crime over the next few months."

Monday, November 08, 2004

News 2020

All the breaking news - fifteen years before events come together

The Prime Minister has announced a new package of enviro-scrupulous initiatives to make Britain's means of energy production more eco-friendly. The Prime Minister has long been known as a fervent enthusiast of the environment, and on several occasions he has expressed hearty disapproval of countries which in his view are not doing enough to combat climate change.

His dislike of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and heat waves was dramatically demonstrated last year when, in the middle of one of the most catastrophic summers on record, when over a thousand Britons died of heatstroke and five coastal villages fell into the English Channel, the Prime Minister went on a water-skiing holiday in the Arctic Sea.

The measures in the new enviropackage include five nuclear power stations to be constructed over the next decade, and re-opening of three coal mines which were closed between 1983 and 1990. Two of the power stations will be in northern England and three in Scotland, where waste processing facilities (viz. the Irish Sea and the North Sea, respectively) are already at an advanced stage of development.

These measures constitute a "vital stage" in the transfer from fossil fuels to wind, wave and solar energy provision, the Prime Minister said. "Despite recent changes in weather patterns, the UK still does not have sufficient wind, waves or sun to make these more enviro-scrupulous energy sources commercially viable," he continued.

Although the technology for deriving energy from wind, water and the sun does exist, Britain does not as yet have the technology to take full advantage. In order to maintain energy consumption at its present level, for example, British windmills would require gale force winds to blow continuously in the same direction for five hundred days a year.

"It is true that - thanks to the policies of this Government - we now have more ferocious winds, higher waves and hotter sunshine than ever before in British history, but all these things are as yet too unpredictable and unreliable for a responsible government to consider them a proper source of the nation's energy," the Prime Minister said.

Consequently, Britain would need to continue hastening the process of climate change in order to provide the necessary weather conditions for windmills, water mills and solar panels to be a viable source of energy at some point in the next century.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

News 2020

Putting the wind up the first draft of history

A memorial service will be held in the ruins of Falluja tomorrow for Commander-in-Chief and ex-President George W Bush, who died earlier this month. It was under Mr Bush's presidency that US-led forces liberated what was then Iraq from the dictator Saddam Hussein.

Once the country was free, however, foreign fighters and terrorists poured in to attempt to disrupt the freedom and democracy which the Americans were trying to implant. One of the main battlefields was the city of Falluja, which was the site of many Islamic shrines until a Baptist preacher formally exorcised and blessed the rubble early in Mr Bush's tour of duty as Commander-in-Chief.

For security reasons, neither the Prime Minister nor the present Commander-in-Chief will be attending the ceremony, which will be carried out by soldiers of the US Marine Corps, the Scots Guards, and any natives of the region who wish to pay tribute to Mr Bush's memory.

Although much of the region outside the Democratic Republic of Baghdad has been pacified repeatedly over the past twenty years, there are still occasional "rat-cancer outbreaks", as the insurgencies are known to the defending troops. Even the establishment of "no-walk zones", subject to random air raids and sniper fire, appears so far to have failed in winning the hearts and minds of the locals.

Some of the soldiers find this a source of frustration. "It's difficult to know what more we can do," said Corporal Euan Kerr, formerly of the Black Watch. His regiment was merged with the Scots Guards in the recent rationalisation of the military. The merged unit is known officially as the Scotch Blackguards, but in an access of Celtic humourlessness the Scottish parliament has appealed to Westminster to change the name.

Although Corporal Kerr is not particularly happy with the "softly, softly" approach favoured by Westminster, whereby British troops are used to fill the gaps left by American troops advancing on enemy positions, he can see its advantages compared with the more heavy-handed US approach. "They'll put fifty rounds into an ambulance and it'll just keep on going," he said. "But some of our guys have been in Ireland, dealing with joy-riders. We'll put five rounds in the driver and stop it for good."

Part of Corporal Kerr's job will be to prevent unauthorised departures from the memorial service tomorrow. Only civilians incapacitated by radiation sickness will be excused. "It sounds brutal but we've got to educate these people about all the favours we've been doing them all this time," said the corporal. "If they'd just stop insurging for a moment, they'd see how much good we've already achieved."

News 2020

All the news that will be news around the world in around fifteen years

Indigestion has crippled a number of journalists attempting to report on the Russian army's action in the troubled province of Chechnya, which has suffered under a blight of separatist terrorism for many years. Reporters who were not embedded with the Russian army have all been laid low by stomach problems over the last forty-eight hours.

The difficulties come at a particularly inconvenient time, as the Russian army is preparing to liberate several Chechen cities, in which as many as 500 separatist terrorists may be lurking. The Russian minister of information, Baba Yagarev, said that the stricken journalists must have drunk contaminated water, of which the province has a plentiful supply.

Russia's actions in Chechnya have caused some concern in the West because of allegations that the human rights of civilians are occasionally violated. The United States has expressed misgivings on several occasions, despite acknowledging that the pacification of the province is purely an internal affair for the Russian government.

In other developments, the US government has recognised one of the three men currently claiming to be the fifteenth Dalai Lama. Mr Leopold Hubley of Lhasa, North Dakota, was the second to claim publicly that he was the fifteenth reincarnation of the Buddha. The British Prime Minister and both Archbishops of Canterbury were among the first, second and third to send in their congratulations.

The Tibetan expatriate community has hesitated to give credence to any of the claims, since none of the three men are of Tibetan origin and one of them is under investigation for immoral exploitation of a stockbroker. "The Tibetans seemed pretty helpless on their own, so we decided to step in," said White House religious spokesperson Edgar Flubbocks.

Mr Hubley, who has lived in North Dakota all his life, is said to be "serenely satisfied" at the news. "We certainly hope he'll be able to influence American policy more to the good," said a family friend today. "It's sure gone down well at Leo's gun club, anyhow."

Tibet has been a frequent cause of concern in the West because of human rights violations by the occupying Chinese. The United States has expressed misgivings on several occasions, and will probably do its best to get the new Dalai Lama's backing for any effort to dislodge the occupying forces.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

News 2020

News so new it hasn't happened yet

Further disagreements have erupted between Britain and its European partners, this time over export quotas. France and Germany have fallen behind Britain in converting to a service economy. Both countries still manufacture goods and employ more than 50% of their workforce inside their own territory.

Britain, on the other hand, has advanced to the point where virtually the whole economy depends on people answering telephones and playing the stock market. Almost 65% of menial labour is outsourced, and those employed in Britain work longer hours for lower wages than any Western workforce outside the United States.

The latest row has broken out because France and Germany claim that Britain has an unfair advantage through having opted out of the European Social Charter, the European Declaration on Human Rights, the European Common Defence Policy and the Geneva Conventions. The French government has gone so far as to say that Britain "has placed its position at the heart of Europe in some doubt."

"Britain is at the heart of Europe. Britain has always been at the heart of Europe. Britain is a leader at the heart of Europe. Britain is a vital bridge between Europe and America. Britain is at the heart of Europe," said a Foreign Office statement issued in answer to the Franco-German bloc's concerns.

"At the same time, we cannot allow any interference with our national sovereignty over such matters as potato crisp thickness and the freedom of our WalMart™ residential complexes to sell genetically modified foods," the statement continued. "It is in order to protect such freedoms and prevent such interference that Britain has reserved itself the right to retain the sovereign jurisdiction of Westminster in certain cases."

Asked how well the British statement had succeeded in calming the Europeans' ruffled feathers, the Foreign Secretary said this morning that the Prime Minister had "had a long talk" over the telephone with French and German ministers. "He reminded them of the importance of international co-operation against terrorism, urged them to co-operate more with Washington and informed them who won in 1945," he said.

News 2020

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

North Korea's weapons of nuclear aggression, which the ruling dictatorship calls a "deterrent", are obsolete and may turn out to be unreliable or impossible to launch in the event of an attack by a liberating coalition, the US State Department has said.

The United States has warned North Korea that it may face military action unless it drops its nuclear programme, opens its borders to free trade, apologises to South Korea for any inconvenience caused and converts to Christianity. The Prime Minister was quick to back up the statement, saying that the newly-modified UN security council could escape irrelevance only by doing as it was told.

The Americans have not yet requested the security council for a resolution authorising action against North Korea, and the Secretary of State has said three times that no such resolution is necessary. It is thought that the Prime Minister would feel more comfortable if UN authorisation could be obtained, even though several US spokespersons have referred to him as "something of a girly man" because of this.

Over the past twenty years, the US has accused the North Korean leadership of human rights abuses, building weapons of mass destruction, forming an axis of evil with Middle Eastern dictators for the purpose of endangering democracy, and attacking the American aircraft carrier USS Chickenhawk.

North Korea claims that the USS Chickenhawk violated its territorial waters and fired on the Chinese-made interceptor ships sent to head her off. No-one was killed aboard the aircraft carrier, but one sailor's left biceps was severely singed. The UN condemned the North Korean action and called for both sides to show restraint.

North Korea's general populace is believed to be in desperate straits, with continual food shortages and lack of vital medicines owing to the refusal of the neo-Stalinist dictatorship to adapt to market forces. The US government says it is "deeply concerned" and will continue to press North Korea to improve itself, as successive US governments have done since the beginning of the century.

Friday, November 05, 2004

News 2020

It isn't true yet, but it will be

The BBC has been ordered to eliminate bias from its broadcasting "once and for all" or face the loss of its charter, the Ministry of Public Enlightenment said today. The broadcasting corporation, which is funded by public money, has come under fire several times this year for items which the Government said showed unacceptable levels of bias.

Three of the items involved Israel. Use of such words as "invasion" and "attack" to refer to defensive interventions and pre-emptive responses, caused the Government embarrassment abroad and were "a source of shame to anyone who knows of the BBC's role in the Second World War", said spokesperson Rambo Tweedy.

The Second World War, which lasted from 1939 to 1945, was undertaken by the British Empire specifically to rid Europe of the scourge of anti-semitism and facilitate the founding of the Jewish state. It was also the trigger for the American commitment to nuclear non-proliferation.

The BBC has also been criticised for its "natural history" programmes, which often take evolution for granted and fail to give sufficient attention to creationist points of view. Also, the Government says, the intervals between advertisements are too long for the British consumer. The BBC has been showing commercial advertisements since 2007, in an effort to meet costs.

The BBC's Board of Governors issued a statement reiterating the corporation's commitment to the ideal of impartiality, reaffirming its independence and promising to do better in future.

News 2020

All the latest, very early

When it eventually happens, you'll read here that we told you so

A humanitarian disaster may be unfolding in Haiti, according to reports by the Red Cross and other aid organisations. If nothing is done, says the Red Cross report, the disaster may be even worse than the disaster which took place in Haiti five years ago, or the disaster which occurred in Haiti four years before that, or even the disaster which happened in Haiti last year.

Despite over a century of intervention by US forces, Haiti remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Several attempts have been made to democratise its politics, but few democratically elected leaders have survived more than a few years. By contrast, Haiti's dictators often last for decades, despite intervention by US forces which often takes place at the beginning of such regimes.

The present disaster is the result of the devastation caused by the recent hurricanes and tropical storms, which also lashed Florida and caused considerable property damage. Residents of Florida protested recently at the US government's decision to send $60,000 in humanitarian aid to Haiti. The protesters said that the American government's first priority should be to help its own citizens.

The effects of the weather are aggravated by the fact that Haiti has very few trees. A mysterious and apparently pathological native urge to destroy forestation has caused a severe shortage of topsoil, a general lack of natural shelter and a progressive impoverishment of the ground. Food riots have grown increasingly common as the interim government, which the US imposed ten years ago in preparation for democratic elections which will be held as soon as the state of emergency is lifted, struggles to cope with the disaster.

The interim President of Haiti, Georges Crane, today issued a call for calm and a statement of thanks to the US and France for supplying 800 peacekeeping troops to help keep order. "The situation will soon be under control," said Mr Crane, who was a police chief in Haiti before becoming president a decade ago. "I know from experience that once the energetic ones have been dealt with in an energetic manner, things quieten down and the factories can work once more," he said.

Asked whether the US has any plans to withdraw from Haiti when the immediate emergency passes, the Secretary of State yesterday shook his head sadly. "There's some places in the world where you can never seem to get it right," he said. "But America will persevere, and one day - one day when they're ready, and if we all really really try - all these black people will be living in real democracies, free and prosperous and just as much like us as they can be."

Thursday, November 04, 2004

News 2020

Putting the wind up the first draft of history

Three times winner of the Guardian Media Group Award for Nuance

The Prime Minister is flying to Washington DC, and from there to the Commander-in-Chief's terror-resistant bunker in Nebraska, for talks with the American government, Downing Street announced today.

The talks have been planned for some time, but the Commander-in-Chief has been very busy opening fast-food emporia and washing his hair. It is unlikely that the Prime Minister will be able to spend more than twenty minutes or so in the Commander-in-Chief's personal company, and much of the important business will be handled by one of the US leader's secretaries.

However, the secretary this year is a Mrs Temperance G Punt, who ranks two grades above the secretary to whom the Prime Minister handed his concerns during his visits last year and the year before. Mrs Punt's line manager is Grover Batts, who reports personally to the Commander-in-Chief's personal secretary at least twice a month. The Prime Minister will therefore be looking on this visit as an important opportunity to communicate British concerns forthrightly to the US leader.

High on the list of such concerns is expected to be the so-called "friendly fire zones" in the protective cordon around the Democratic Republic of Baghdad.

Since the end of the last insurgency, the reduced need for replacement armour in the region has caused a significant drop in profits for several US-owned companies. The Government agreed with the Americans last year that, subject to strict seasonal restrictions, a small quota of British units would be subject to "friendly fire", enabling the companies to continue profiting by their contracts with the Ministry of Defence. But after the near-total destruction of two Scots regiments six weeks ago, the Government is worried that the Americans' zeal to improve their marksmanship may be interfering with their instinct for fair play.

The Prime Minister is also expected to mention the situation in Belize, where the US nuclear strike has caused some concern in the Government. Although Washington has been requested to think very carefully about consulting London before doing it again, it is not clear that the presentation problems connected with this matter have been altogether solved.

Six months after the three-megaton burst over Belize, controversy erupted when British journalists revealed that some harm may have come to civilians in the area. Although the claim is controversial because nobody has yet carried out a proper body count, it is likely that the Prime Minister will be telling the Americans in no uncertain terms that he would like their unconditional word on how he should deal with the matter.

News 2020

All the news that will be news around the world around fifteen years from now

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

Veteran film-maker Lucas Playhill is to make an epic about the 2004 presidential campaign in the United States, which was won by the late George W Bush and which paved the way for modern American democracy.

"It's just such a great subject," said the 73-year-old director of Saving Private Jessica from the Clones of Doom today. "You have these two great rivals, these colossal figures battling for the greatest job on earth, and after they've both given their all in the effort to make it, they're still able to be pals and go save the world together."

The film, which will start principal CGI morphing next month, has been scripted from actual television transmissions of George W Bush and his campaign rival, John Kerry. Scenes involving real actors will be filmed in Eastern Europe where locations are cheaper, with Warsaw standing in for Washington DC. Parts of the city have been extensively refurbished and several hundred people made homeless in preparation for the shoot.

Some controversy has arisen over the decision to portray the two men as buddies at the end of the film. Members of several Christian groups have threatened to boycott the film when it opens because of its portrayal of the president as "crawling into bed with baby-killing tree-hugging fags."

Mr Playhill does not seem unduly concerned about such unfavourable advance reviews. "I don't think we've really stretched the boundaries very much here," he said. "They were members of the same frat house, they both believed in national security; all sorts of stuff. I think it's going to be a terrific movie. A serious message about significant issues that we all believe in, but cute and funny, too."

Casting has been kept a tightly-held secret in preparation for the advertising campaign, but it is rumoured that the respected British actress Kate Winslet will be playing Laura Bush, the president's beloved wife. The real Mrs Bush has been in bed on a drip-feed of ethanol and antidepressants for the past fourteen years, but the film's backers, Murdoch Disney, say they hope she will be able to attend the premi�re.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

News 2020

News so new it hasn't happened yet

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

Israel is preparing to take measures to cut down the size of the remaining Palestinian reservations, it was reported today. The Israeli government is concerned about its human rights record, which has suffered because of conditions in the camps, where tens of thousands of Palestinians are living in overcrowded conditions.

A United Nations observation team recently criticised the administrators of Camp Ben-Gurion, Camp Shamir and Camp Sharon for the "inhuman" treatment of residents. The Israeli government has not yet responded to the charges.

In an effort to improve its human rights record, Israel plans to decrease the size of the camps. The liberal wing of the Labor party argues that this will simply increase the overcrowding and risk worsening Israel's reputation yet further, but the governing Likud party claims that "positive developments" will occur before any international outcry can take effect.

"If the camps are a problem for those concerned about human rights, we will lessen the problem by lessening the camps," the Israeli prime minister said this morning.

He reminded critics that residents of the camps were free to leave at any time if they disliked conditions there. "It follows, then, that those who remain in the camps are there because they like the camps. If they like the camps, they must like the conditions there. Since we are merely planning to intensify those conditions, they will presumably enjoy themselves all the more. We look forward to hearing of their gratitude."

Israel's occupation of the west bank of the Jordan and the Gaza strip, and some of its other actions in the region, are considered illegal by the 197-nation General Assembly of the UN, but Israel and the international community dispute this.

News 2020

News so new it hasn't happened yet

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

Child obesity in Britain is still on the increase among the wealthier classes, but there have also been significant increases in the incidences of anorexia and bulimia. Added to the general malnutrition in many poorer areas, this means the underlying trend could be on the way down for the first time in almost two decades.

Antonia Globule-Maltravers of the Ministry of Ingestion said today, "These figures prove the correctness of the Government's PTI initiative, and we look forward to seeing further improvements in the future." The Paediatric Tonnage Initiative is the scheme whereby the Ministry of Ingestion pays private corporations to provide children and young people with slender, willowy and physically attractive role models by means of entertainment outlets and pervasive advertising.

Ms Maltravers admitted that the Government had hoped for a larger impact on the children of wealthier parents, at whom much of PTI's creative resources were targeted. The figures show that, although there are marginally fewer obese children in these classes, the ones who do become obese are growing all the time.

"Of course we'd prefer it if more children were actually fit, rather than having the statistics dragged down by conditions in the slums," said Ms Maltravers. "But there is a limit to what the Government can do in these situations."

The Department of Health has given some consideration to a policy of "adipose redistribution", whereby fat could be surgically removed from obese bodies and then transplanted into the bodies of the under-nourished; but no viable scheme has yet been put forward whereby the under-nourished would be able to pay for the operation.

The British Exit Europe Party blamed the soaring juvenile tonnage problem on the "decades-long trend towards fatty foreign foods", and called for a return to a proper British diet of pat� de foie gras and champagne for people of good breeding, and hamburgers and cola for the rest.