Miles Kington: Soldiers in body bags. You can blame gays for that, too

Rev Fred Phelps, a churchman from Kansas, is convinced that America's troubles are due to their tolerance of homosexuality
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The Independent Online

Every month, as you know, I like to test you on your knowledge of world events by bringing you a handful of news stories and seeing if you can pick the one genuine one. That's right!

All the news stories in today's piece were concocted by student journalists on our own Media Studies Quasi-Degree Course, who are trained to invent plausible stories for a quiet news day.

All except one, which was widely reported and actually happened.

Here we go!

1. There have been a good few books recently written by Muslims who are calling into question the state of modern Islam. One such book is Muslim Men come from Mars, and Muslim Women Come Walking 10 Feet Behind Them, an account by Riya Fadouki, an Islamic woman, of all the indignities suffered by Muslim women in daily life.

The book caused a furore in much of the Islamic world.

Which has only been increased by the discovery that the writer was actually a middle-aged white American male called Ted Backus.

"Yes, we did commission him to write the book," admits publisher Pie Slice Books. "We didn't want any actual Muslim woman writer to run the risk of persecution or fatwa, so we got Ted to do the book under a pseudonym. Let's face it, Islam is always going to be pretty tough on women who step out of line, so why take the risk at all?"

The Islamic world is not mollified. At first they were furious that such a book had been written by a Muslim woman. Now they are furious the book was NOT written by a Muslim woman. Ted Backus has gone into hiding.

2. Police in Oxford are looking for a graffiti artist who has been spraying the walls of Oxford colleges - but very neatly, in small writing and in medieval Latin.

"The man or woman is a scholar," says Inspector Thacker of the Oxford Police. "The Latin is immaculate. Well, there are mistakes, but then, medieval Latin was full of mistakes. So it is a very accurate pastiche."

The graffiti artist is also the first the police have come across who leaves "Caution: Wet Paint" notices on his work.

3. Like many Japanese soldiers who had no idea that the Second World War had ended, Fuji Makoto was determined to fight on until told otherwise. In the forests of Guam he was cut off from his fellow soldiers and survived there until 1963, when he died. By then he had found a bride, a runaway island girl, and had a family. He convinced them that they, too, must fight until instructed not to.

One of his sons, Keino, was a brilliant physicist who devised a primitive form of nuclear warhead which he intended to use on America to end the "war". When he was found last year, he was within three months of exploding his device.

4. "You turn this nation over to fags, and our soldiers come home in body bags!" That is the slogan of the Rev Fred Phelps, a churchman from Kansas, who is convinced that America's troubles are all due to their tolerance of homosexuality. He and his followers have now taken to gate-crashing high-profile funerals, at which they know cameras will be present, and mounting protests. The authorities are powerless, as nobody has ever, apparently, passed laws against violence at funerals.

5. Thanks to globalisation, the world is getting warmer and summers are getting better. Yet at the same time, weather forecasts are getting worse. This is ascribed by a recent survey to the Michael Fish syndrome. Ever since Mr Fish notoriously failed to foresee a hurricane in Britain, meteorologists have been instructed to forecast the worst possible scenario so that people are relieved when it turns out better than predicted.

6. A Mrs Evergreen of Ohio, has nightmares in which she is abused and insulted by Donald Trump. She is suing him for libel.

Well? Did you spot that the Rev Phelps is the genuine article? You did? Well done! I will try and make it harder next time.

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