MTV Denies it Named Newdow 'Atheist of Millennium'


A second episode of confusion rocked the MTV Music Awards when Michael Newdow mistakenly accepted the "Atheist of the Millennium Award." Earlier Michael Jackson thought that Britney Spears had presented him with the "Artist of the Millennium Award."

"I can't believe it," Newdow exclaimed, clapping his hand to his chest as his eyes welled with tears."This one's for you Madalyn Murray O'Hair."

The confusing incident apparently happened in the men's restroom after the MTV ceremony when Newdow thought he heard Ozzy Osbourne in the next stall calling him "the bleepin' atheist of the millennium". A spokesman for Mr. Osbourne said, "I can't confirm that. Nobody's ever really sure what Ozzy is saying. But he was probably talking to himself."

Michael A. Newdow, lawyer and emergency room doctor, filed suit this week to get rid of the Congressional chaplain. He previously won a case in California, protecting his Christian daughter from having to say "under God" during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Related Link: Jackson's Artist of Millennium Award

Palestinian Authority Bids to Join Powerball Coalition


As part of a continuing effort to assert its independence, the Palestinian Authority has applied to join the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), a coalition of 24 U.S. states which offer the PowerBall lottery, among other government-sponsored games of chance.

"No one questions the statehood of Pennsylvania, Nebraska or Wisconsin, and they're all members of MUSL," said a Palestinian spokesman. "We dream of the day when the people of the Jenin refugee camp can enjoy the same freedoms as many inner-city Americans."

Saturday's PowerBall jackpot will be worth $63 million (U.S.) -- $36.2 million with the cash option.

Related Link: MUSL
TSA Mandates New Airline Ticket Counter Questions


A day after ordering airline ticket agents to stop asking customers about their luggage, the Transportation Security Administration has mandated a new set of questions each potential passenger must answer before boarding a flight.

For the past 16 years, ticket agents have asked each customer:

1) "Have any of the items you are traveling with been out of your immediate control since the time you packed them?" and,

2) "Has anyone unknown to you asked you to carry an item on this flight?"

In an effort to make airport security procedures more effective, the TSA has borrowed some questions from one of America's most popular television shows, The Sopranos (HBO). From now on, perky ticket agents in bright vests will ask each customer:

  1. "What's the matter with you?"
  2. "What are you looking at me for?"
  3. "You got some kinda problem?"
  4. "Who do you think you are?"
  5. "Do you know who you're talkin' to?"

Related Link: TSA Drops Luggage Questions


Donahue's Viewer Loves the Show


The viewer of the new Donahue show on MSNBC apparently loves it.

Overnight ratings from Nielsen indicate that the viewer joined the program a bit late yesterday, but continued to watch throughout the entire show. A Nielsen spokesman said more detailed demographic and psychographic data about the Donahue viewer would be released in about a week.

One Parent's Story: "We Love Our Failing School"

(2002-08-29) -- According to The New York Times, few parents exercise their right to pull children from failing public schools, and to use vouchers to place them in schools with better performance records.

"We just love our failing school," said Portia Gasterson, mother of 12-year-old Casey. "I'm so excited because the teacher says my baby is going to read this year."

Mrs. Gasterson, a graduate of the same school 15 years earlier, said she looks forward to becoming literate herself.

"My Casey's going to learn me to read," she said, beaming in anticipation. "Our school consistently performs in the bottom 10th of all schools in the state, and we just love it. The kids have a place to go during the day. Lunch is cheaper than McDonald's. We have low expectations, and we're almost never disappointed."

Mrs. Gasterson said she's not interested in using a voucher to send her child to a better school.

"My Casey won't need to be all that smart to live in this neighborhood," she said.

Related Link: NYT Story on this topic


Bin Laden to Bush: Saddam 'No Threat to World'

(2002-08-28) -- Usama bin Laden, in a visit to President Bush's Texas ranch, told the President that Saddam Hussein is no threat to the region or the world. He urged the U.S. to patiently allow legal processes to settle the disagreement over Iraqi weapons inspections, and "not to do anything rash, or provocative."

The Islamic trendsetter's visit comes a day after Saudi Prince Bandar told Mr. Bush that every other nation opposed a U.S. invasion of Iraq.

"Could it be that a few people in the U.S. are right and the whole world is wrong? We doubt it," said the Saudi Prince, whose nation spawned 15 of the 19 clever patriotic theologians who last year converted commercial airliners into guided missiles using little more than razor blades.

The visit by Mr. bin Laden, himself a product of Saudi Arabia, was designed to demonstrate that "the U.S. government is sensitive to the diversity of opinions among our friends in the Islamic world," according to White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. "Mr. bin Laden represents the opinions of many in that region. We also treasure the relationship with the Saudis, our great allies. We're grateful for how they helped us decrease our dependency upon gasoline in the early 1970s. If it hadn't been for their oil production cutbacks, we might never have realized how great the Japanese are at making tiny little cars."

Mr. bin Laden flew home late yesterday in Prince Bandar's chartered jet, where he had the opportunity to spend several hours instructing Bandar's eight children on the fundamentals of the peaceful Islamic faith.


Earth Summit Delegates Have Choice of Hotels

(2002-08-27) -- Mgluta Emakula, proprietor of the Hotel L'Eau de la Salle de Bain near Johannesburg, wonders what she must do to lure more Earth Summit delegates to her establishment.

"We have been preparing for this conference for months," she said. "Yet we have not received a single reservation from among the Earth Summit delegates."

The Summit has drawn 60,000 people who are distraught that millions of earthlings live without clean water and nutritious food. Many delegates are from organizations which lobby and raise money on behalf of the poor.

"I thought my Hotel would be perfect for the delegates, since I am poor and we lack running water and nutritious food," said Mrs. Emakula. "Instead of the L'Eau de la Salle de Bain, most of them are staying over at The Michelangelo. Go figure!"

Delegates staying at The Michelangelo drink the finest bottled mineral water and vintage brandy, eat lobster, fois gras, caviar and quite literally whatever they want. Their luxurious rooms will be comforting respites from the battery of emotional speeches from some of the world's most empathetic people.

Mgluta Emakula in front of her Hotel L'Eau de la Salle de Bain, waiting to greet Earth Summit delegates.


Memo: Top 10 Reasons to Criminalize Homeschooling

In an effort to increase the public drumbeat for criminalizing homeschooling, California Deputy Superintendent Joanne Mendoza has distributed a memo containing the top 10 reasons why public schooling is better than homeschooling. Here is an excerpt from that memo:

Why Public Schooling Is Better Than Homeschooling

  • Most parents were educated in the underfunded public school system, and so are not smart enough to homeschool their own children.
  • Children who receive one-on-one homeschooling will learn more than others, giving them an unfair advantage in the marketplace. This is undemocratic.
  • How can children learn to defend themselves unless they have to fight off bullies on a daily basis?
  • Ridicule from other children is important to the socialization process.
  • Children in public schools can get more practice "Just Saying No" to drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.
  • Fluorescent lighting may have significant health benefits.
  • Publicly asking permission to go to the bathroom teaches young people their place in society.
  • The fashion industry depends upon the peer pressure that only public schools can generate.
  • Public schools foster cultural literacy, passing on important traditions like the singing of "Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg..."
  • Homeschooled children may not learn important office career skills, like how to sit still for six hours straight.


FCC Probes Pattern of News Show Hype

Insiders at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) say the agency is probing claims that CNN, MSNBC and network news operations routinely hype interviews, reports and talk shows they know are losers, while top executives privately watch reruns on Nickelodeon, or go out to Red Lobster with the family.

"Much like the SEC investigation into corporate execs who made rosy projections while privately selling off millions in stock, this probe seeks to determine if news editors and producers know that some of their on-air material will be a waste of viewers' time," according to an unnamed source. "Clearly, for instance, MSNBC knew that the new Donahue show was a dog, but they continued to promote it like it was the next Bill O'Reilly or something. But that's just the tip of the iceberg."

Sources say they have thousands of hours of videotape proving that news events -- from hurricanes, to child abductions, to Larry King interviews -- are sold to unsuspecting viewers with lavish promises. Depositions from actual victimized viewers show a pattern of news promo excesses resulting in millions of hours of wasted TV time -- time valued in the billions of dollars.

"The net impact on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of this nation is almost incalculable," the source said. "But perhaps worse is the breach of trust between major media organizations and the American viewing public.

Off the record, TV news execs say they aren't culpable, since "viewers can always change the channel if they don't like it."

But FCC attorneys are preparing to make the case that teaser promos "hook" the viewers, who then continue to believe that the network will deliver on its promise of "must see TV". Yet when the hour is over, the viewer is left with a hollow feeling, and 60 wasted minutes of life he can never get back.