As the Iowa caucus draws near, Democratic candidate Dick Gephardt is shrugging off rumors that he is Batman. For months the Missouri congessman has been hounded by reports that he bears more than a passing resemblance to the Caped Crusader, a resemblance he strongly denies.
"The only crusader in this election is George Bush and his crusade to ruin the good name of America!" Gephardt shouted to a cheering crowd of supporters.
At a recent campaign stop in Adair, IA, though, a rally was delayed by more than an hour when the Penguin assaulted the crowd with a purple laughing gas. Dick Gephardt was reportedly not at the scene yet, although he arrived moments after Batman apprehended the villain and turned him over to Adair Police Chief O'Hara.
"I told Mr. Gephardt that he just missed seeing Batman," Chief O'Hara recalled, "but he didn't seem too disappointed."
Rumors are abound that Dick Gephardt, left, is really Batman, center (shown here with Robin). At far right, an undated file photo of Bruce Wayne.
MARVIN THE MARTIAN VOWS DEATH TO PLANET EARTH Cites "crimes against the universe"
An audiotape attributed to Marvin the Martian was received by a CNN affiliate in Houston today. While experts are unsure when the tape was made, the speaker does make references to the Spirit rover mission. Security officials have confirmed it is the voice of the famed alien.
Says the voice on the tape, "Oh dear, you naughty Earth specimens and your imperialist aggressions are in direct violation of the Neptune accord. This insignificant planetoid has been found guilty of crimes against the universe. You have made me very angry -- very angry indeed. Brace yourself for immediate disintegration."
The Bush administration expressed their concern about Marvin the Martian's desire to possess the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator. If he achieves that capability, he would have the ability to destroy the Earth. According to Israeli intelligence, he is about a year away from developing such a weapon.
There are unconfirmed rumors he is receiving assistance from Pakistan.
Australian troops surprised John Howard hasn't visited them in Iraq
In the wake of surprise visits to Iraq made by other world leaders, Australian soldiers are beginning to feel a little left out that Prime Minister John Howard hasn't made a surprise visit of his own yet.
"To be honest," says Lieutenant Graeme Hitchcock, "We weren't expecting him at all. Even when George Bush visited Baghdad, we didn't think anything of it. But then the Spanish prime minister surprised his troops and the Polish president surprised his troops -- let's just say we're a little jealous of them."
Other soldiers haven't lost hope yet. Says Private Angus Hogan, "I reckon he's waiting for the right moment, although I'm ready for whenever he makes his visit. Each time they tell us there's a special guest in the mess hall, I give them my `Oh, who could it be?' routine and start to practice my surprised look so I'll be ready when the prime minister walks in rearing to serve us some ostrich steak fresh off the barbie. Sadly, it's always been just a general from some other division. One day he'll come. I know it."
John Howard has yet to surprise his troops in Iraq
News Networks Concerned Over Orange Alert Year in Review segments already completed for most
As the nation went to orange alert this week over the possibility of holiday terror attacks, many news networks are growing increasingly worried.
Greg Janowski, programming director at CNN, says, "The last thing we want now is a big news story. Most of our staff is off for the holidays and I was working overtime last week to wrap up production on our `2003: Looking Back' special. Hopefully this next week will be quiet."
Janowski isn't the only one. Says Henrietta Donalds, a reporter for MSNBC, "I spent most of November trying to secure an interview with J-Lo so she can talk about her breakup with Ben. Now that I'm all done, I'd hate to see my segment cut to make way for the dirty bomb in DC story."
Not all worries of wrought of inconvenience, however. Some networks are simply concerned about logistics. Paul Sheridan of Fox News says, "Let's assume, hypothetically of course, a suicide bomber attacks the crowd in Times Square as the ball drops. Would the attack count as a new story for 2003 or 2004? Theses are the sort of problems I face everyday as a news journalist."
In a move that stunned most political and legal analysts, deposed dictator Saddam Hussein hired famed attorney Johnny Cochran to lead Hussein's legal defense team.
Cochran wasted no time getting down to business Tuesday. "Where was his legal counsel when the interrogations began?" Cochran asked a crowd of reporters. "My client was not read his Miranda rights. He wasn't even aware of his right to remain silent. You're dealing with a man who lived in a police state for the past 30 years. Of course he was frightened and willing to talk -- in his country, the police would've killed him by now."
Although he faces a seemingly uphill battle, Cochran is not short of ideas. First on his agenda is to move the trial to neighboring Syria. Says Cochran, "There's too much attention in Iraq. He'll never get a fair trial."
He also hopes to get the former president released on bail, adding, "My client has been a fixture of the Iraqi community for the past three decades. He knows no place but Iraq. Where else could he go?"
When asked about his defense strategy, Cochran refused to divulge many details but hinted that the war was"racist."
Saddam Hussein, left, is hoping Johnny Cochran, far right (shown here with OJ Simpson), can work his magic one more time
President Bush Pays Surprise Visit to Astronauts Onboard International Space Station Becomes first world leader to visit space
The two astronauts onboard the international space station were in for quite a shock this morning as President George W Bush arrived unannounced.
Michael Humbert, an engineer at the Johnson Space Center in Houston who usually provides the astronauts with their daily wake up call, decided to ham up today's call. "Good morning, this is Houston Mission Control," transcripts of this morning's transmission report, "I have a special message for both of you today concerning the future of the space project. But before I go on, is there anyone more senior who would like to take over?"
Right on cue, President Bush, who was flanked by two secret service guards, emerged from the cargo bay to the whoops and hollers of the two astronauts.
Bush took the opportunity to restate his support for a new manned mission to the moon. After he served a helping of dehydrated ice cream to the pair of astronauts, Bush got back onboard the space shuttle Endeavour for the return trip home.
It is estimated the president spent 40 hours traveling to and from the space station for the 45 minute visit. The historic flight was done in secrecy, launching from the Kennedy Space Center during the dead of night. Only a handful of reporters were taken onboard the shuttle and were not permitted to report on the story until the craft had re-entered the atmosphere.
It has been reported Bush piloted the Endeavour into the docking bay.
While Republicans applauded the president's show of support for the space program, Democrats have been quick to dismiss this as another photo opportunity.
"It's a f---ing waste of our taxpayer money," sighed Senator John Kerry (D-MA).
President Bush returns to Cape Canaveral after visiting the international space station
NEW YORK INVADES CONNECTICUT GOV PATAKI TO CONSTITUTION STATE: "TASTE OUR STEEL"
The New York National Guard moved into Connecticut early this morning in what appeared to be an apparent invasion of the state.
Although light fire was exchanged outside of the towns of Greenwich and Stamford, the heaviest fighting occurred in the capital city of Hartford. At approximately 4am local time, the city of Hartford fell to New York forces. NY Governor George Pataki appeared on Hartford's WHCT-TV around 4:15am local time with this message to the people of Connecticut, "We are the Empire State. Taste our steel."
Most of the state is currently under martial law.
Connecticut Governor John Rowland has not been seen since the invasion, although an audiotape attributed to the deposed leader was received at the offices of the local CNN affiliate. The voice on the tape urged the people of Connecticut to "fight the good fight against this unwarranted aggression."
NY National Guard tanks patrol the capital city of Hartford
WASHINGTON IN TURMOIL
An emergency session was called to order for both houses of Congress. In a dramatic turn of events, NY Senator Chuck Schumer was sucker punched by CT Senator Joe Lieberman as Schumer entered the Senate chambers. A melee broke out on the floor and it took Capitol police over forty minutes to regain control.
In the House of Representatives, an overwhelming majority voted to place sanctions on New York, with only the representatives from New York voting against sanctions. The representatives from Indiana abstained.
Tensions flared when Rep Christopher Shays (R-CT) angrily accused Rep Peter Visclosky (D-IN) of "shady dealings" with New York. It has long been rumored, but never substantiated, that Indiana has been selling arms to the New Yorkers.
President Bush has been unavailable for comment. He was on his way to a surprise visit in Kabul when news of the invasion broke. Air Force One was turned around midflight and he is one his way back home.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld offered the use of the US military should Connecticut need liberating, although Secretary of State Colin Powell warned the US "shouldn't get involved in an apparent family fight."
Sen John Kerry (D-MA) sheds a tear for the violence of the day
The response across America has been mixed to the news of New York's invasion. Understandably, opinions were most strong on the East Coast.
In Connecticut, most people interviewed were angered by the attack. Glen Pomper, 42, of Greenwich CT complained, "I work in Manhattan and the last thing I want to do is live there. That's why I bought my house here. Now my property taxes are going to go up."
Arlo Henderson, 56, of Woodstock NY threatened to move to Canada because he feels "ashamed of my state."
Meanwhile, when Vinnie Tagliari, 22, of Brooklyn NY was asked about his reaction to the invasion, he shouted "New York, New York, number one, baby!"
Gretta Mendosa, 78, of nearby Bayonne NJ had this to say, "You know, back when New York and New Jersey were arguing over who owned the Statue of Liberty, I told people `You better watch those New Yorkers. They're up to no good.' Did anyone listen to me? Nope, I'm just a silly old lady. I'm not surprised they did this to Connecticut. I'm just surprised they didn't do it to us yet."
A spontaneous antiwar protest erupted in San Francisco to protest New York's "imperialist and racist war"
Both Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network and Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen fighters are on a heightened state of alert as the Christian holy month of Advent begins today. There is some worry that the US and coalition forces may use Advent, a month long preparation for the birth of Jesus, as a pretense to step up on attacks.
Muslim Leaders Criticize Bin Laden Critics cite al-Qaeda head lacks leadership abilities
It has been more than two years since the World Trade Center collapsed and Osama bin Laden appeared on al-Jazeera television dressed in military fatigues, proclaiming "mission accomplished" and "death to America," yet some Muslim leaders think he may have spoken too soon.
Addressing a group of supporters in Ramallah last night, junior al-Qaeda leader Mohammad Zaid drew cheers from the crowd as he criticized bin Laden for a lack of leadership, "Bin Laden called America a `paper tiger' and promised us America would be crushed by the will of Allah. He lied! Where is this paper tiger? Where is this will of Allah? The will of Allah never existed! Bin Laden lied to us! He recklessly led us down the path to war and then went into hiding like a coward. He is a miserable failure!"
Zaid was not alone in his criticism. Abu Azzouzi, a petty officer for the PLO, appeared on al-Jazeera Sunday night and complained, "In the past two years, we've seen the collapse of both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein's regime. Yasser Arafat has been sidelined. Al-Qaeda members and other fighters are being arrested or killed in daily raids. Iranians are getting bolder in showing their distaste for the government. Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait started to hold elections. Even Saudi Arabia is cracking down on militants and making promises for democratic reform. This is not good. I hate to say it, but I'm afraid bin Laden and his rush to war got us involved in a quagmire."
Muslim leaders aren't the only ones criticizing bin Laden's policies. Rahma Saad, whose son Abdul blew himself up in a Baghdad marketplace, could not contain her anger towards the al-Qaeda chief. "He's sending young boys off to die and he doesn't even have a plan," Saad said. "My son was promised the glory of Allah, but now I'm not sure why he had to die. How many more of our sons will have to die?"
Osama bin Laden, shown here in September 2001, proclaimed "death to Amerca."
Newly unclassified documents reveal: BILL CLINTON AND TONY BLAIR HELD SECRET TALKS TO DISCUSS REUNIFICATION BETWEEN US AND BRITAIN
Then-American president Bill Clinton and British prime minister Tony Blair held a series of private meetings back in 1997 to discuss possible reunification between the two countries, newly released documents show.
"That whole war thing, you know, 1776, is water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned," Clinton is reported to have said. Blair allegedly responded with, "Well, we never wanted you to leave in the first place."
The two reportedly went on to discuss their admiration of each other's country: Clinton professed an undying love for the Rolling Stones while Blair admitted to taping Friends each week.
The talks fizzled out when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke in early 1998.
While it's not quite clear what prompted these talks in the first place, one former White House staffer who requested anonymity suggested it may have had something to do with a British embassy worker named Fiona Childs.
"I used to sneak Fiona into the White House in the evenings," the staffer recalled, "The president used to call her a `fine piece of a--,' but she apparently only gave it up for British men. That was one of her rules. One night, I had the misfortune of walking in on them in the Oval Office. The president had his pants around his ankles and he was chasing her around the room, shouting in the worst cockney accent I ever heard."
Both American and British officials declined comment for this story and denied knowing anything about such talks.
Chanting slogans such as, "No Blood for Allah" and "Osama Kills, UN Heals," a crowd converged upon Damascus yesterday to protest the War on the West. The demonstration was organized by Please Don't Use Our Name, a Muslim activist group. According to its leader, Ibrahim Hasan, "We're here today to send a message that most Muslims don't agree with the warmongering bin Laden and his ilk."
While a few protestors carried paper mache effigies of the al-Qaeda leader, another activist was seen carrying a placard reading, "Yasser Arafat is a Wanker."
Demonstrator Hani Faraj complained, "I came to the protest with a sign which read `Stop Syria,' but I replaced all the S's with swastikas. As soon as the police saw it, they took it away and beat me."
Faraj wasn't the only protestor beaten. Syrian police and B'ath party loyalists disrupted the march and attacked the activists with chains.
Please Don't Use Our Name organizers estimated a turnout of 10,000. The Syrian government denied such an event took place.
Hillary Clinton to Become a Catholic Eye on Papacy in 2004
Sources close to Hillary Clinton have confirmed the New York senator is attending Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults (RCIA) classes at St. Margaret's Church in Chappaqua, NY.
In light of recent speculation concerning Pope John Paul II's failing health, rumors have been circulating among her fellow parishoners that the former first lady is considering a run for pope in the near future.
"On the first day of class, when we went around the room to introduce ourselves, Hillary seemed a little too preoccupied with the pope's health," observed classmate Elizabeth Ng.
Monsignor Edward O'Reilly, pastor of St. Margaret's, denied ever speaking with Clinton about her religious goals. "We did speak about her desire to join the Catholic community, but she never once spoke with me about ordination of any sort. Being she's a married woman, obviously, she can't become a priest or pope. Of course, if she ever wants to serve as a reader at mass, she's more than welcome."
Some of her supporters, however, were quick to point out many people also said a former first lady could never be elected to US Senate.
Clinton's people have not made any public statement concerning this matter, and refused comment when contacted.
Hillary Clinton involved in her ministry for the elderly