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IN RESPONSE to reader comments, Metro has decided to print only good news this week.

Saddam Hussein Takes Early Retirement

Citing a generous early-retirement package, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has announced that he will return to private life this June. "I spoke with my benefits coordinator," Hussein told reporters and curious U.N. weapons inspectors, "and realized that I was fully vested and could retire at 80 percent of my highest average salary during the last five years of my dictatorship."

Rich People Spurn Tax Cut

A national coalition representing the top 1 percent of American taxpayers has decided that rich people really don't need any more breaks from the government. "We ran the numbers three ways from Sunday," said a coalition spokesperson, "and no matter how you cut it, rich people are really getting by just fine. If you gave us more money, we'd probably waste it on frivolous luxury stuff like Maseratis and Faberge eggs that wouldn't help the economy anyway." A stunned White House was unavailable for comment.

No One Killed by Ice Ball--Not Terrorism

Thirteen-year-old Santa Cruz resident Monique Zesati was startled but unhurt when a baseball-sized chunk of blue ice hurtled through the roof of her bedroom last Sunday. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the chunk, which landed on Zesati's favorite sweatshirt, turned out to be from a leaky airplane bathroom. No link to terrorism could be ascertained, although CIA agents are still unwilling to comment.

SUV Drivers Union Apologizes

The SUV Drivers Union has issued a blanket apology to the American public. "What were we thinking?" said Harold Hummerman. "The gas mileage is terrible; we're running over cars we can't even see 'cause our bumpers are so ridiculously high; and don't get me started on the pollution we're causing." Hummerman declined to state whether SUV Drivers Union members would voluntarily agree to give up their vehicles. "One step at a time, please," Hummerman cautioned.

Cell Phones May Be Equipped with Zapper

Cell phone companies announced that they are working on various product improvements. Now in beta testing is a function that would send a low-voltage "zap" from cell phone to cell phone, so that cell phone users who were speaking too loudly or in an inappropriate situation could be reprimanded by their fellow cell phone users. The result might be the kind of self-cell-phone-policing that B.F. Skinner championed in his 1957 psychological opus Schedules of Reinforcement.

National Sanctity of Human Life Day a Joke

Ari Fleischer told the press today that President George W. Bush was only kidding when he declared a National Sanctity of Human Life Day. "We really didn't think anybody would take us seriously," Fleischer said. "I mean, just look at the president's record on Iraq, on capital punishment ... well, on just about everything." Fleischer explained that since it was just a prank, attendance at National Sanctity of Human Life Day events was not mandatory after all.

'American Idol' Winner to Be World Diplomat

Organizers of the American Idol televised pop competition announced today that the winner of this go-around not only will be given a low-paying recording contract, but he or she will also go on to represent the United States in countries around the world in an effort to spread American goodwill. "Who could be more qualified for this important task than an attractive young person in tight jeans who knows nothing of other cultures but can sing like an angel fallen from heaven?" the show's spokesperson, Ariella Mounser, rhapsodized at a press conference in L.A. "We're sure that once the Iraqis meet our young pop star they will do away with notions of biological weaponry and embrace the values of a nation founded on immense love for the recording industry."

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From the January 23-29, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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