African Child Dies Despite Merlin Olsen Endorsement

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Vol 32 Issue 19

FBI Chief Releases Composite Sketch Of Dream House

WASHINGTON, DC—At a press conference Monday, FBI director Louis Freeh released an artist’s rendering Monday of the home he has dreamed of all his life. "We must find this home," a determined Freeh told an assemblage of FBI agents and reporters. “Just look at the outside. That’s cedar paneling. I’ll never have to paint." Distinguishing features of the house, Freeh said, include a circular driveway, tennis court and wrought-iron lattice-work fence. "The FBI has made the search for this lovely house a top priority," Freeh said. “We will not rest until I am relaxing in this sunken marble bathtub."

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NEW ORLEANS—Area dock worker Bert Greer celebrated his birthday with a quiet party at his home Sunday, surrounded by family. Asked the secret to his astounding longevity, the feisty 134-year-old credited "healthy eating, a good walk every evening, and a Social Security worker’s accidental striking of an extra digit while typing in my age." The remarkable Greer, who remembers meeting President Lyndon Johnson as a young boy, said he has “no plans to retire any time soon.”

Tractor Pulls Now Number-One Use For U.S. Tractors

WASHINGTON, DC—According to a survey released Friday by the Department of Agriculture, after more than 150 years on top, farming is no longer the number-one use for tractors in the U.S., surpassed by tractor-pull competitions. "Fortunately for tractor manufacturers like John Deere," said Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, "Americans’ declining interest in farm-based crop-tilling has been offset by a rising interest in stadium-based ass-kicking."

Santa Claus Killed In Electric-Razor Crash

STAMFORD, CT—Noted philanthropic elf Santa Claus was killed Monday in an electric-razor crash during a practice run for his annual global gift delivery. According to witnesses, at 11:20 p.m., while riding over an icy embankment, Claus lost control of the Norelco razor he was piloting, sending him careening into a suburban home. Long believed immortal, Claus was pulled from the mangled razor and rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. "We are shocked and saddened by this tragedy," Norelco CEO Steve Drucker said. "This is a terrible loss, not only for the Norelco family, but for all the children of the world." Control of KringCo, Santa’s massive non-profit toy-distribution franchise, was transferred to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, widely known to possess the same magic powers as Claus. Children are advised that Dr. Kissinger prefers "a nice green salad or fruit plate" to cookies.

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Race Relations

African Child Dies Despite Merlin Olsen Endorsement

AKOBO, SUDAN—Despite a high-profile media endorsement featuring touching piano music, soft-focus photography, and the star power of former NFL great and television personality Merlin Olsen, Sudanese child Nwangi Botusa died Monday of what medical-relief authorities are calling "starvation."

Nwangi Botusa, as photographed by a Children's Miracle Fund worker, moments before dying of starvation. <b>Inset:</b> Merlin Olsen

Botusa, recalled by relief workers as a "bright child with a keen interest in Jesus, fighting against all hope for survival, and sitting on Merlin Olsen's lap," was six years old.

"I can't understand how this could happen," said Christopher Drake, volunteer-action coordinator for the Children's Miracle Fund, the non-profit charity organization for which Merlin Olsen taped the endorsement. "It seems almost as if, in today's cynical times, even a personal, direct appeal from an athlete/actor as esteemed as the great Merlin Olsen is not enough to get people to donate money to prevent the death of a child."

The hour-long endorsement, which had aired regularly at 3 a.m. on various cable networks over the last 28 months, was expected to generate a "significantly greater public response," Children's Miracle Fund officials said.

"When I think of the millions of dollars in airfare, equipment rental, camera-crew salaries, and editing and technical-support facility costs that went into making this endorsement, only to have Nwangi die because late-night television viewers failed to respond by opening their hearts and their wallets, I am filled with shame for the society in which we live," said Children's Miracle Fund president Dave Shurmur. "Where are our priorities?"

Olsen was similarly disappointed. "It is truly disheartening for a star like myself to be let down by his fans like this. I specifically appealed to my public not to let this precious child of God die, and this is what happens?" said Olsen, whose television career has included roles on the heartwarming family drama Little House On The Prairie and the modestly successful Catholic-themed early-'80s action/ crime drama Father Murphy, as well as numerous commercial and parade-host appearances. "I looked directly into the camera and said, 'See this child's eyes? These are the eyes of a beautiful young person who needs your help,' you know, the whole bit. But, apparently, millions of viewers figured, 'Let him die.' What is with people these days, anyway?"

Added Olsen: "I mean, shit, man."

Olsen expressed his condolences to the family of the deceased child with a "Dearly Departed" Commemorative Sentiment Floral Arrangement & Bouquet gift-basket set with cookie from FTD Florists, for whom Olsen has been a paid spokesperson for nearly two decades.

Children's Miracle Fund workers stationed in Botusa's home village of Akobo reported that the gift basket "deeply moved" members of the boy's family, as well as thousands of starving children in the area.

"As soon as the package arrived from the United States, the children set upon it like ravenous dogs, devouring the oversized chocolate-mint cookie and the foil wrapper in which it was encased for shipping in a mere matter of seconds," Children's Miracle Fund relief worker Dwayne Hentrich said. "It was truly moving to see the way their eyes lit up when they received the first solid food they'd eaten in weeks."

Hentrich said that shortly after eating the cookie, the children ate the accompanying flowers, foliage, ribbons, dirt and flower pot, as well.

"We Sudanese children know that many nutrients can be drawn from a soil-encrusted flowerpot, if it is sucked on with suitable vigor for enough days," nine-year-old Kiga Nuwali said. "The moisture and nutrients to be found in its crevices will keep us alive for as much as an additional 12 days."

FTD spokespersons said that, for those interested in sending their own message of sympathy and support to the children of Sudan, FTD will offer a special, limited-edition "Genuine Merlin Olsen" gift basket identical to the one sent by Olsen, containing a bonus souvenir keepsake photo of Botusa and Olsen, for just $29.95.

FTD officials stressed that quantities of the "Nwangi Not Forgotten" commemorative gift basket will be "extremely limited," and that interested parties should place their order "as soon as possible to ensure delivery in time for the holidays."

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