AIDS Awareness Campaign Spreads Awareness, AIDS

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Vol 31 Issue 24

NATO Admits Slovenia, Mummenschanz, Czech Republic

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND—The North Atlantic Treaty Organization welcomed three new members Monday: former Soviet republic Slovenia, Swiss mask-mime troupe Mummenschanz, and the Czech Republic. "We are pleased to welcome three new allies in the peace process," NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said at a press conference. "We anticipate a long and rewarding relationship with these new members, particularly the one with the crazy tube costumes." After Slovenian and Czech diplomats spoke to the press, Mummenschanz representatives affirmed their commitment to NATO with a whimsical seven-minute performance in which one member wearing a featureless clay mask attempted to imitate the intricately sculptured facial features of a fellow member. In return, Solana pledged the troupe full military backup if attacked, as well as $400 million in toilet-paper aid.

George Lucas Announces Gala 21st Anniversary Star Wars Rerelease

HOLLYWOOD, CA—Next summer's blockbusters will have some old-fashioned competition when the Star Wars trilogy gets a special 21st anniversary re-release in 4,600 theaters nationwide. George Lucas officially announced his rerelease plans Monday at 20th Century Fox headquarters. "In 1998, Star Wars will be 21 years old. As part of the celebration, we wanted to give Star Wars fans of all ages a chance to see the films the way they were meant to be seen—on the big screen," he said. "For the kids who were too young to see these movies when they were out last year, this should be a magical event." Also slated for next year: a special home-video release of Star Wars: Master Edition in celebration of the 16th anniversary of the film's video-store debut in 1982. Lucas promised brand-new footage in all the upcoming releases: "If you haven't seen Return Of The Jedi with the sandstorm scene," he said, "then you haven't seen it at all. You have been ripped off."

The Graying Of America's Prisons

As a result of the crime boom of the '70s and '80s, experts are predicting an explosion in the number of elderly prisoners in the coming decades. What do you think?

We Must Strike Now While England Is Weak!

Fellow Americans, to call for war is to be absolutely certain in one's convictions. And never have I been so certain of the necessity for bloodshed than at this moment in our history, for our enemy—a nation held in contempt by free men the world over—is weak, and her empire is slipping from her once-mighty grip. To speak the name of the tyrant is to befoul the mouth of Democracy. But speak it we must, if only to call the armed might of our nation down upon its foul malignancy. For arm ourselves we must—against the evil that is England!

Entertainment Tonight Acquires Exclusive Preview Footage

HOLLYWOOD, CA—In an unprecedented act of journalistic subterfuge, Entertainment Tonight has acquired preview footage from the set of the upcoming action film Maximum Heat, giving ET viewers a rare opportunity to see a portion of a film that will not be in theaters until fall.

U.S. Secretary Of Beer: 'Woooo!'

WASHINGTON, DC—In a nationally televised press conference, U.S. Secretary of Beer Earl Titleman shouted boisterously and implored the American people to get down, specifically exclaiming, "Woooo!" and raising both fists in the air. The statement marks the most high-profile public pronouncement from the Department of Beer and Malt Liquor since its May 1994 collaboration with the ATF on a landmark kegger. Titleman has come under fire in the past for his liberal stance on shotgunning and his inability to count backwards from 87. "Let's get the ladies in here," urged Titleman in his 23-minute speech. "I'll take 'em all on, 'cause I'm the Big Kahuna, and y'all know what that means."
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AIDS Awareness Campaign Spreads Awareness, AIDS

BOSTON—With new AIDS cases on the decline for the fourth straight year and the disease in danger of losing millions of dollars in federal research funds, a group of concerned activists took to the streets of Boston Sunday to stress the importance of contracting AIDS.

A group of New York-based AIDS activists distributes pamphlets outlining Congressional plans to cut AIDS funding. The group is traveling around the country, teaching young people the importance of spreading AIDS.

"We've worked tirelessly for over 15 years to convince the government that AIDS research funding is vital," said Steve Hobart, an AIDS Now! spokesperson. "But now, with AIDS on the decline, that's all in jeopardy. The only way to raise awareness of this deadly disease is to have more people die of it."

For the past six months, the New York-based activists have been traveling across the country, visiting college campuses and youth groups, spreading information about unsafe sex, and encouraging people to infect others with the virus.

They have also passed out pamphlets sporting such slogans as, "AIDS Is Cool," "HIV Me!" and "Catch It!" to more than 500,000 young people nationwide. Attractive, racially diverse models in sexy poses adorn the pamphlets.

According to Hobart, if AIDS cases continue to decline at the current rate, America's once-booming $9 billion AIDS industry could suffer a total collapse by 1999.

"The AIDS industry employs hundreds of thousands of people, from benefit organizers to celebrity spokespersons to administrative staffers," Hobart said. "Many of these people have families to feed. If AIDS is stamped out, what will these people do?"

"The key," Hobart said, "is to have lots of unprotected sex."

According to AIDS Now! co-founder Diane Forsberg, if federal AIDS monies dry up, hundreds of top graphic designers who create fashionable AIDS awareness buttons, posters and pamphlets would also be out of work. "Who else will hire them? The breast-cancer people? The breast-cancer industry is strapped for funding as it is," Forsberg said.

"And what about Bette Midler?" Forsberg said. "Where will she go when there are no more celebrity AIDS Walks?"

Forsberg said that her group needs to raise $50,000 every year just for the manufacture and distribution of red ribbons. "The only way we can pay for those is if more people start dying of AIDS in large numbers," she said.

Though hardest-hit by the decline of AIDS has been the AIDS industry itself, others have been affected as well. Profits at Petersen Pharmaceuticals, an Englewood, NJ-based manufacturer of AZT, were down 44 percent last year, a figure company officials blame on the decline in new AIDS cases.

The entertainment industry has not escaped unharmed, either. ABC reported record-low ratings for A Mother's Wish, a May '97 made-for-TV drama starring Judith Light about a boy who contracts the disease. "Had we put out that movie five years ago," ABC vice-president of programming Bob Iyer said, "it would have done huge numbers."

In the wake of last week's Center For Disease Control announcement that AIDS cases dropped 21 percent in 1996, Paramount Pictures announced it was shelving Lifeline, a $25 million AIDS drama starring Diane Keaton already in pre-production.

But for all the negative economic impact the decline of AIDS has had, ultimately it is the members of the AIDS community themselves who are hurt the most.

"You have to understand," Hobart said, "for years, this disease has brought people together, and given them a place to go. For many of these people, AIDS campaigning has been a vital self-esteem-building tool. And now they're in danger of having all of that taken away."

"Just a few years ago, there were AIDS benefits every weekend," said Forsberg, recalling the disease's golden age. "Now, you're lucky if there's a 5K run once a month. It's very sad."

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