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North Korea Successfully Detonates Nuclear Scientist

PYONGYANG—Hailing it as a significant step forward for their ballistic weapons program just hours after suffering a failed missile launch, North Korean leaders announced Monday they had successfully detonated a nuclear scientist.

Tokyo Portal Outage Delays Millions Of Japanese Warp Commuters

TOKYO—Saying the outdated system needed to be upgraded or replaced to avoid similar problems going forward, millions of inconvenienced Japanese warp commuters expressed frustration Thursday following a Tokyo portal outage that caused delays of up to eight seconds.

Earth Ranked Number One Party Planet

FRAMINGHAM, MA—Noting its high concentration of nightlife, droves of attractive singles, and atmospheric conditions allowing liquid alcohol to exist, the ‘Princeton Review’ on Monday ranked Earth the Milky Way galaxy’s top party planet for the fifth year in a row.

Nuclear Warhead Thrilled For Chance To Finally Escape North Korea

PYONGYANG—Saying its spirits were immediately buoyed upon hearing Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s recent statement that the military was close to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile, a North Korean nuclear warhead reported Tuesday that it was thrilled for the chance to finally escape the country.

Pope Francis Carves Roast Cherub For Vatican Christmas Dinner

VATICAN CITY—After pulling a probe thermometer from its thigh and tasting a piece of crispy golden-brown skin, Pope Francis began carving a slow-roasted 18-pound cherub for the Vatican’s annual Christmas feast, sources within the Holy See reported Sunday.

Vatican Putting Out Feelers For How Public Would React To Another Children’s Crusade

VATICAN CITY—Saying they had been giving some thought recently to the idea of sending legions of Christian boys and girls to retake the Holy Land and wanted to gauge the level of support, Vatican officials reportedly began putting out feelers Wednesday to determine how the public might react to another Children’s Crusade, much as was attempted in the year 1212.
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U.S. Troops In Iraq Excited To Finally Return To Afghanistan

These homesick soldiers are, at long last, going back to Kabul.
These homesick soldiers are, at long last, going back to Kabul.

BAGHDAD—Members of the U.S. Armed Forces were reportedly overcome with feelings of joy, nostalgia, and optimism this week after learning they would soon be withdrawn from Iraq and allowed to finally return home to Afghanistan.

"I never thought this day would come," said Cpl. Douglas Robinson, who hasn't seen the barren hills and smoking craters of his beloved Kabul in nearly six years. "Being away from those you left behind, for this long, it definitely starts to take a toll on you."

The amber waves of blowing sand and rubble.

Added Robinson, "I can't believe I'm going home again."

In 2003, thousands of American soldiers were unexpectedly uprooted from Afghanistan and sent off to fight in a long and bloody war overseas. After serving multiple tours of duty in Iraq, the vast majority of these troops said they couldn't wait to get back and have their lives return to normal.

"It's going to be great to be surrounded by all those familiar faces again," said Pfc. Shawn Brunner, staring wistfully at an old and faded photograph of the bleak wasteland. "The tribal sheiks, the frightened villagers, all that wonderful rubble near the Id Gah Mosque. When I'm finally back on Afghan soil, I'll probably kiss the ground."

Like Brunner, marines stationed at Camp al Qaim in Iraq said they longed for the comforts of home, whether it's stopping off at a local eatery for a hot meal of sabzi challow, or spending Sunday afternoon cheering on their favorite buzkashi team. Others reportedly yearned for the day when they would be reunited with their children, many of whom hadn't even been born when their fathers left for Iraq.

"I can't wait to meet my little princess, Badria," Lt. David Shapiro said. "I just hope her mother isn't still angry at me."

According to military officials, the announcement of the long awaited homecoming has greatly improved morale, with U.S. soldiers looking forward to returning to the one place where they truly felt like they belonged.

"Hopefully we'll stay put for a while," said Cpl. Michael White, adding that he couldn't wait to hear the familiar strains of neighbors speaking Dari in the streets. "With any luck we'll be in Afghanistan for another 10 years."

While most remained enthusiastic about the trip home, a small percentage of military personnel expressed concerns that Afghanistan had drastically changed since they were called off to war. Others worried that it would now be awkward to interact with local warlords.

"I don't want people to treat me weird just because I've been away for so long," Lt. Gerald Karshner said. "I'm sure there will be a period of adjustment. You know, just getting reacquainted with the sounds of slightly less mortar fire, or that special tear gas smell that only Afghanistan has. Still, it'll be great to sleep in my old metal bed again."

The journey back will be bittersweet for some. Pvt. Michael Tagle, 24, said he could still remember a more innocent time in his life, when he would drive around all day in a tank with friends, several of whom, sadly, are no longer around.

"We had our entire lives ahead of us," said Tagle, who "pretty much grew up" in Kandahar. "Anything was possible. Going to college. Maybe starting a family someday. Even making the world a better place."

Added Tagle, "It's funny the things you picture for yourself when you're young."

Amid all the fanfare, there was some unpleasant news. Troops in the 11th Marine Regiment were ordered early Tuesday morning to ship off to the United States, a distant foreign land, filled with bizarre customs, strange beliefs, and millions of people they do not know or understand.

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