Al-Jazeera Introduces 'Lighter Side Of The News' Segment

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Vol 40 Issue 35

Grocery-Store Worker Can't Bear To Eat Food Anymore

FLOURISSANT, MO—Pick'n Save stockboy Joel Melcher said Monday that his overexposure to groceries has destroyed his taste for food. "When I first started working here, I thought, 'This is awesome—I'll be able to bring bags of food home from work every night,'" said Melcher, who receives a 25 percent discount at the store. "But now, being around it all day long, at the end of the day I can't even stand to look at frozen food, baked goods, meat, dairy items, or produce. Makes me sick just thinking about it." Melcher has vowed that, when he gets a new job, he "will never set foot in a grocery store ever again."

Smoker Inspired By Sight Of Elderly Smoker

EVANSVILLE, WY—Rod Jensen, a 25-year-old smoker with a two-pack-a-day habit, drew inspiration from 83-year-old Leo Menting Monday. "See, that guy over there's still kicking," Jensen said, after he saw the elderly man smoking a Marlboro at Caroline's Corner Cafe. "I'm always hearing about the health risks of smoking, and how it can kill you, but look at that old dude. He doesn't have one of those holes in his throat. He's not even using a cane." Minutes later, Jensen added onion rings to his order after seeing Menting's wife do the same.

The Scream Poster Stolen From Area Dorm Room

ST. PAUL, MN—Concordia University campus police are still investigating Tuesday's theft of a poster of Edvard Munch's The Scream from an area dorm room. "We're doing everything in our power to recover the poster," officer Donald Benson said of the poster, which was stolen while the two residents of 204 Walther Hall were studying in the second-floor common area. "With its iconic contorted human figure beneath a swirling red sky, The Scream is a masterpiece of German expressionism, and the poster was valued at $7.95." The work of art is one of only 86 copies known to exist on the campus.

Cheney Urged Not To Work Blue During Convention

WASHINGTON, DC—At the insistence of members of the Republican Party, Vice-President Dick Cheney agreed not to work blue during the Republican National Convention, GOP sources reported Monday. "I sat him down and said, 'Dick, this is going to be on television, and we want to project a good, family-friendly image. You've gotta keep it clean,'" Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie said. "I keep trying to get it through to him that using the 'F' word just shows a lack of imagination." A spokesman for Cheney said the vice-president will tone down his speech, but argued that Cheney is "only saying what everyone's already thinking."

Many Lack Potable Water

According to a recent U.N. report, more than one billion people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water. What do you think?

Son, We'd All Like To Lie Around All Day Being 'Clinically Depressed'

Justin? Justin, can you hear me through this door? Are you asleep again? Your mom said you got up to use the bathroom a minute ago. She was hoping you were coming down to have dinner with us. No? Hello? Well, son, I know that you have a real problem; at least, that's what the therapist tells us. Anyway, you're not alone. We all get a little low sometimes. Life is certainly no picnic—don't I know it! But usually, after a while, folks snap out of their funks. Not because they want to, but because they come around to the fact that they have no choice. The truth is, son, we'd all like to lie around all day being "clinically depressed," but at some point, we have to swallow hard and face the music. Step up to the ol' plate.

Small Group Of Dedicated Rich People Change The World

NEW YORK—Cynics often say that one man can't make a difference in a huge and complicated world. But this week in New York, a few tremendously rich and powerful men have given those naysayers reason to reconsider their views. At the Republican National Convention, which concludes Thursday, a handful of dedicated men will change the world.
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Al-Jazeera Introduces 'Lighter Side Of The News' Segment

DOHA, QATAR—With the stated intent of "turning current-events coverage on its head," the popular but oft-criticized Al-Jazeera Arab television news network launched its "Lighter Side Of The News" segment Monday.

Jalami reports on a badly bungled bombing.

"And now, we have something a little different for you," anchor Jihan Jalami said, turning from coverage of violence in Najaf.

"It seems a certain suicide bomber paid the price for his sloppy job Sunday, when he failed to annihilate a Jerusalem pizza parlor, and himself along with it. After numerous attempts to detonate the homemade device hidden under his shirt, the bomber gave up and ordered lunch! Can you imagine the relieved look on that restaurant owner's face?!"

Continued Jalami: "The blundering bomber was well into his third slice of pizza when responding Mossad agents killed him and wounded two bystanders in a hail of gunfire."

Al-Jazeera then resumed normal coverage, airing hard-line Islamic cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi's statement in response to air strikes on Afghanistan.

The Lighter Side, airing at the bottom of the hour during non-peak times, is already popular among viewers. Favorite segments so far include the story of a Ramallah teen who sat motionless in a freshly plowed pepper field for 10 days, believing himself to be in a minefield; that of a U.N.-sponsored airborne food-drop that leveled an entire Afghan village; and that of a large fig, produced on a farm outside Bahrain, which bears an uncanny resemblance to renegade Muslim cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr.

"I could not believe what I was seeing," Osiraq resident Akil Hamza said. "The fig looked just like him."

Al-Jazeera, a technologically savvy news organization that reports events in the Middle East from an Arab perspective, remains the only foreign station allowed in Afghanistan.

Station executives say the Lighter Side segments will help them broaden their audience.

"We have long been aware that our network isn't as well-regarded in the West as news outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News," said Wadah Khanfar, managing director of Al-Jazeera. "We were criticized for airing certain stories—the capture of U.S. soldiers by al-Qaeda, for instance, or the burning of the American embassy in Afghanistan. So we looked to see what sort of stories our American news counterparts were running in lieu of unpopular topical pieces."

Footage from Lighter Side segments titled "Time To Get A New House!" (left) and "Even Amputees Want To Kick The U.S. Troops Out!"

"This is what we came up with," Khanfar said, gesturing to a row of monitors displaying the humorous action at the State Fair of Jalalabad, where several residents who had lost their arms in the recent fighting engaged in a spirited samboosak-eating contest to benefit a local school.

"We've always prided ourselves on our diversity of opinion, as well as our real-time news coverage," senior news producer Sameer Hadi said. "But it doesn't hurt to report things that everyone can agree on. I think the story we're doing this evening will bring a smile to our viewers' faces. It is the story of Abdul Al-Sattar Hali, who recently won the $1 million Bahrain State Lottery, but was unable to collect, because he was in prison. Can you imagine?"

Al-Jazeera had also done a story concerning Hali in April, when scandal erupted after they aired photos of the blindfolded, nude pottery vendor being hosed down by American troops at Abu Ghraib.

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