News Monkey: A simian slant on last week's news

TALK SHOW FRAUD. It should be good news that, unlike America, Britain doesn't have quite enough weirdos to fill two TV freak shows a day, but the producers of the Vanessa and Trisha programmes seemed upset, rather than relieved to find that some of the oddities who appeared on their chat shows were just actors. We're never going to be able to stock daytime television with genuine weirdos without the Government getting involved. Perhaps benefit claimants turning up for their mandatory interviews could be questioned about their private lives, and then steered toward the appropriate programme. Certainly such a scheme would pay for itself.

TELETUBBY GAY MENACE. According t American right-wing media curiosity the Reverend Jerry Falwell, the purple, handbag-carrying Teletubby Tinky Winky is gay. He seems to have overlooked the possibility that Tinky Winky might be a girl, or French, or asexual, or a person dressed up in a funny costume. Falwell accuses Tinky Winky of "role-modelling the gay lifestyle", proving that when you don't know what you're talking about, it always helps to make up a word.

CLINTON ACQUITTAL. At long last the shameful, pointless persecution of William Jefferson Clinton is at an end, and we can all stop pretending to like him. Now that Clinton has emerged from the impeachment process slightly more innocent than when he went in, perhaps the American people can put this painful and embarrassing episode behind them, in order to concentrate on new and more important issues, like the trial of Kenneth Starr, Sidney Blumenthal, and finally, everyone else.

FRANKENFOOD FEAR. Rigorous testing has proved that genetically modified crops are perfectly safe, so long as you don't eat them, prompting the Government to reject calls for a moratorium on GM foods. Luckily those who would like to see more tests on the effect of GM foods can do their own experiments at home, with foodstuffs from their local supermarket and a control group of loved ones.

MONKEY NEWS. The New Zealand parliament is considering an Ape Rights Law, which would confer on great apes, among other things, "freedom from imprisonment without due legal process", which ought to make monkeys the envy of Chinese dissidents and East Timorans alike. While this sounds very nice, the Ape Rights Bill fails to include provisions for the arrest and trial of naughty and/or cheeky monkeys who may seek to take advantage of our soft-heartedness. Does no one see where this will end? It's as if Planet of the Apes had never been written.

GIBRALTAR ROW. It's never too soon for another war with Spain. Now new disputes over fishing rights and the sovereignty of Gibraltar threaten to spark one off, after MPs called for the Royal Navy to send ships to the Mediterranean to defend British interests. While a little ineffectual sabre rattling is good for the soul, the issue of who owns Gibraltar is going mean very little once the monkeys take over and make it their capital.

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