News Roundup: April 2003

FOLLOWING REPORTS that a column of "about 120 Iraqi tanks" turned out in fact to number only three, Coalition army chiefs have been hurriedly re-examining reams of intelligence data. Spokesgrunts have admitted already that some major miscalculations may have taken place, including an overestimation of the strength of the Republican Guard, now thought to consist of Abdullah Anwar, a graduate of Baghdad University. Estimates of the number of Coalition forces themselves have been revised downward to "around eight", including 0.24 of an Australian. The latest reports indicate that Iraq itself has been overestimated, and is now thought to be roughly the size of Walthamstow. US Army chiefs have, however, stood by their assertion that they are now within 100 miles of Baghdad.

* * *

TONY BLAIR announced his latest Cabinet reshuffle today, in the wake of the departure of Robin Cook last week. Preliminary reports suggest that Geoff Hoon has been dealt a royal flush. Leading Conservatives are expected to declare the move a "misdeal".

* * *

THE ROYAL ACADEMY has issued its long-awaited White Paper on widespread misuse of English. Among the list of "oxymorons, malapropisms and nonsensica" comes the assertion that the phrase "leading Conservatives" is de facto meaningless.

* * *

COALITION VANGUARD forces have reported that they have "complete control" of Umm Qasr and, indeed, have been resident there for some number of years. Several of the more enterprising soldiers have learned fluent Arabic, adopted Arab dress, darkened their skin colour and set up small agricultural businesses. Critics have accused the soldiers in question of "actually being Arabs" and suggest that the Coalition is trying to claim rather more progress than has, in fact, been made.

* * *

UPDATE: COALITION FORCES are said to be "in the final stages" of the battle for Umm Qasr, having engaged in "fierce fighting" with the Iraqis putting up "no resistance". Squadron Brigadier Lieutenant-Private Roland Exquisite agreed that they would have control of Umm Qasr within minutes, if not days.

* * *

UPDATED UPDATE: COALITION forces have surrounded Umm Qasr in preparation for the final push into the town. Control of Umm Qasr is now expected to happen within the next week.

* * *

BREAKING DEVELOPMENTS: the Joint Chiefs of Staff have admitted that Umm Qasr "may be a military objective" before July. On being reminded that previous press conferences had concluded that Umm Qasr was already in Coalition hands, Gen. Franks explained that progress was "remarkable" and attributed the unusual sequence of events to the clocks going forward.

* * *

IN OTHER REGIONAL news, Israelis have begun founding "patriotic" settlements outside Tel Aviv. Unconfirmed bulletins say that Palestinians have given up in disgust and are moving in large numbers to what Hamas described as their "traditional homeland" outside Enniskillen.

* * *

SPORT: THE FORMULA One safety car has been crowned World Champion for the third successive year. In an exclusive interview with Al-Jazeera, the driver attributed his success to "new FIA regulations and the lingering, sublime pleasure of Marlboro". Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher has lodged a formal complaint against the very same regulations, although officials deny that encasing the multiple world champion in three tons of metric cement did not constitute "unfair practices". "The longering, sublime pleasure of Marlboro and I feel that this is unfair on me and Ferrari," commented Schumacher angrily from the depths of his black German heart. "Marlboro," he added.

* * *

FRENCH MINSTERS have apologised for their behaviour over the war in Iraq. "We misunderstood the situation," explained Alain Pamplepaillionaisse earlier. "We had rather got the impression that collaborating unquestioningly with a violent, morally dubious superpower led by a dangerously nationalistic yet popular leader was frowned upon by the free world. How times have changed."

* * *

INCOMING NEWNEWS: the Pentagon has refused to comment on provisional reports that US Marines have now penetrated some way into Saddam Hussein himself. "He may, after all, be dead," they explained to President Saddam, waving away his eyewitness reports and results of his recent medical examination explaining otherwise.

What do you think, did we get it right? Comment here...