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Predictions, Schmedictions!  
Eight news stories our columnist would like to see in 2002  

    Dec. 31 —  With half the columnists looking back on 2001 and the other half looking making outlandish predictions for 2002, I thought I’d tackle the dreaded “New Year’s Eve Column” by offering a few excerpts of stories that may not be in your local paper next year, but should. Happy New Year.  

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       Film Year ‘Too Crappy,’ Academy Says
       HOLLYWOOD — In a stunning development that could influence moviemaking for generations, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced yesterday that it was canceling this year’s Oscar ceremony on the grounds that there were not enough good movies to fill out the list of nominees.
        “This has been an embarrassing year for all of us and I think it’s best if we just forget that it ever happened,” AMPAS executive director Bruce Davis said at a press conference. “I mean, when two of the five Best Picture nominees are ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Harry Potter,’ and the other three are animated films, I think we as a community have to admit we have a problem.

        “Could you come up with even one Best Actor nominee this year?” Davis added, disgustedly. “We were so frustrated that we were thinking of relaxing the rules to include Osama bin Laden’s Al-Jazeera videos, but ultimately decided against it.”
        The news of the AMPAS decision sent shock waves through Hollywood’s creative community yesterday.
        “This is going to kill us,” said one studio executive, who requested anonymity. “The Oscar show is watched by 1 billion people worldwide and is a great marketing tool for us. How else are we going to get Malaysian kids excited about spending two day’s pay to see ‘Bandits’ or ‘Corky Romano’?”
       ‘Osama Diet’ to Rival Atkins, Zone
TORA BORA, AFGHANISTAN — Looking gaunt and thin in a newly released video, Osama bin Laden announced yesterday that his Al Qaeda terror network is now targeting the American weight-loss industry.
        “Look at me, you fat infidels,” bin Laden is quoted as saying in the new tape, broadcast on Al-Jazeera. “I have lost 30 pounds since September 11 and you are fatter than ever. And I did it with no exercise!”
        President Bush implored American TV networks to not broadcast the tape unedited.
        “Bin Laden is obviously using this tape to undermine our entire multibillion-dollar weight-loss industry,” the president said. “While I can acknowledge that ‘The Osama Diet’ clearly has some benefits, it’s going to prove to be a fad diet scheme.”
        Despite the president’s support, officials from several dieting plans were nervous.
        “Look at that guy, he looks fantastic,” said a Weight Watcher executive who requested anonymity. “The more we bomb him, the more weight he loses. How can we compete with that?”
       ‘It’s Kinda Dull,’ Scientists say
       WASHINGTON — After finally decoding the entire human genome, scientists were forced to admit yesterday that the blueprint for life is “actually kinda dull.”
        “It runs for pages and pages and pages and I have yet to figure out where the plot is going,” said lead researcher Ben Johnston. “To me, it just seems like a random collection of letters.”
        In light of the announcement, Oprah Winfrey has withdrawn her support for the Human Genome Project report, which had already begun circulating with an “Oprah’s Book Club” sticker on the cover. “In the end, it’s just not a good read,” Winfrey said.
        Her decision pleased Johnston.
        “Well, we really weren’t going for the ‘Oprah reader’ anyway,” Johnston said. “I mean, the people who watch her show tend to like low-art books like ‘The Corrections’.”
       Protest Working Conditions at Current Strikes
       LYON, FRANCE — In a stunning show of worker solidarity, striking French truck drivers walked off their picket lines in protest of “deplorable working conditions” at picket lines all over the country.
        The strikers have begun forming picket lines around other strikers’ picket lines. It is believed to be the first time that strikers in the labor-troubled country have gone on strike from their strikes.
        “We want better conditions on these picket lines,” said striking driver Pierre Lecompte. “We have been striking for years, but it never seems to get any better: eight hours of pacing with only two 10-minute breaks per hour, carrying these heavy signs and chanting union slogans in a dull monotone.”
        Labor leaders, unaccustomed to being picketed by their own picketers, quickly adapted to their new role and refused to give in to the strikers’ demands.
        “We are already providing fresh croissants every morning and wine at lunch and dinner,” a union official said. “What they ask is impossible. I don’t think we’ll get these striking strikers back on strike anytime soon.”
       Chefs: ‘Sacre bleu!’
       WASHINGTON — In a stunning discovery that will change culinary practices in the best restaurants, a panel of government scientists have found that squab, a fancy fowl served in top French restaurants, is actually pigeon, a common city pest.
        Top chefs were stunned by the announcement.
        “I can not believe that I have been serving pigeon all these years,” said Gaston Gingras of Le Pissoir D’Orange, a local eatery. “My butcher always called it ‘the other street meat,’ but I thought he was joking. You know those butchers.”
       Scientists Find that They are Actually ‘Pathetic’
       WASHINGTON — In a stunning announcement that may undermine the very foundations of human relationships and, more important, the credibility of pop-music standards, government researchers have concluded that people who need people are not only not the luckiest people in the world, but, in fact, quite unlucky.
        “These supposedly ‘lucky’ people are actually needy, depressed people who are no fun to be around,” lead researcher Cranston Dougherty said. “In our survey, we found that most people really hate these whiny losers.”
        Singer Barbra Streisand, who popularized the notion of these fortunate needy people, rejected the findings.
        “This study is obviously part of a vast right-wing conspiracy,” the singer said in a statement.
       Key industries must be rebuilt, leader declares
       KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — Afghan interim president Hamid Karzai demanded yesterday that the United States bail out his economically ravaged nation’s key industries.
img: perspectives 2001

        “Our economy has been destroyed,” Karzai said. “The burqa industry needs an immediate bailout and the opium growers are really struggling.”
        Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill resisted Karzai’s call for a direct bailout, but said he would work to create new markets for Afghan goods.
        “There’s no reason why burqas cannot be sold in the United States,” O’Neill said. “I’ve already bought two burqas myself. In white, they make great Halloween costumes. In blue, they make a great disguise for your favorite Bills fan.
        “As far as opium goes,” O’Neill added, “with a little government support, opium could be just as popular as Budweiser.”
       ‘Annex Saudi Arabia’ and ‘Widen Country Lanes’ Top List
       DALLAS — A coalition of owners of sport utility vehicles, frustrated by constant fluctuations in the world supply of oil, has demanded that the U.S. government annex Saudi Arabia and increase crude oil production by 15 million barrels a day.
        The Sport Utility Car Cooperative also demanded that all roads be widened to accommodate their vehicles, all quaint covered bridges throughout New England be reinforced with weight-bearing steel beams, drivers of small cars receive tickets if they ever use the passing lane, and every curb in the country be raised 10 inches to allow SUV drivers to exit their cars comfortably.
        The coalition’s demands were received warmly in Washington, a testimony to SUCC’s increasing power as a lobbying group.
        “I’ve asked the secretary of Defense to analyze our options vis-à-vis occupying Saudi Arabia,” President Bush said in a statement. “I’m favorable to it, but I’m concerned that we may only be able to annex Bahrain to start.”
        In a related story, oil industry executives, following the mining industry’s request to have the government reconsider arsenic levels in drinking water, have asked the president to lower the amount of oxygen that the government requires to be present in air.
        “We all know from high school science that the earth’s atmosphere is roughly 80 percent nitrogen, 20 percent oxygen,” an oil industry source said. “All we’re saying is what would be so bad if it was 80 percent nitrogen, 18 percent oxygen and 2 percent nitrous oxide? Who’s gonna know?”

Gersh Kuntzman is also a columnist for The New York Post. His Web site is at
       © 2001 Newsweek, Inc.
MSNBC News Perspectives
MSNBC News Weren’t We All So Young Then?
MSNBC News My Turn: I Won’t Take ‘See You Later’ for Granted
MSNBC News 2001: Ring The Bells Backward
MSNBC News The Year in Perspective


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