American Media, owner of Weekly World News, is shutting down the grocery-store tabloid that once exposed 12 U.S. senators as space aliens. That's right: There were only 12 back then. Long before The Onion, the W.W.N. was reporting the whereabouts of Elvis (Kalamazoo, Mich.) and publishing photos of Heaven taken by the Hubble telescope. Some of its headlines will remain classics. For example, "Dead Rock Stars Return on Ghost Plane" and "Crazed Dieter Mistakes Dwarf for Chicken!" But now its circulation has fallen under 90,000 and this week's will be its last issue.
How come? According to the dead-serious news release, the paper will be folded "due to the challenges in the retail and wholesale magazine marketplace." What does that mean, exactly? Maybe it's a corporate exec's way of saying that the so-called real news is already so outrageous that fiction can't compete with it. Or maybe the Weekly World News has actually been kidnapped by space aliens and we're not being told. We wouldn't be surprised. By anything we read in a grocery-store tabloid.
Whatever the reason for the demise of the W.W.N., we're going to miss headlines like "Headless Body in Topless Bar." Oops, that was the New York Post. All these tabloids tend to blur in the mind.
With tabloids, the more outrageous the news the better. What makes them so amusing? It's their talent for parodying those of us in the oh-so-serious "profession" of journalism. Picking one up is like listening again to Edward R. Murrow's sonorous old "This Š I Believe" deepthink series of radio essays by generic Ordinary Americans - only not as maddening. Since the humor of mock tabloids like The Onion is intentional.
Xinhua, Communist China's news agency, reports that Beijing is going to regulate reincarnation in Tibet, one of the world's longest occupied countries. The commissars in Beijing have had it with these living Buddhas popping up all over the place, so the State Administration for Religious Affairs in that officially atheist country is to have the final say-so on which Buddhas may reincarnate where.
It's not enough for the "People's Republic" to assert control over every thought on the Chinese mainland and environs, now it's going to keep a tight rein on the next world, too. It's all kind of funny - if you don't have to live in a country monitored by Big Brother.
As of September 1, the Buddhas will have to submit their application for reincarnation, doubtless in triplicate, to the Religious Affairs bureau before being recognized in their next life. The new regulations are described by Xinhua as "an important move to institutionalize the management of reincarnation of living Buddhas." And, no, this dispatch did not originate with the soon-to-expire Weekly World News, which some of us are hoping to see reincarnated.
Some news is just too unbelievable to make up. Can this be what Marx and Lenin had in mind when they started out? Mao, maybe.
Hugo Chavez,the Venezuelan strongman and another great friend of the working man, is now out to change his country's constitution so there will be no limit on the president's - namely, his - terms in office. That way, he can be president-for-life, much like his Cuban mentor, Fidel Castro. Is anybody surprised? Beneath every Latin champion of the proletariat there's just another caudillo. And their line is always the same: Obey my every dictate and be free!
Mikhail Gorbachev,last commissar of all the Russias, has been heard from. He's to appear in commercials for Louis Vuitton, the French luxury label, along with other celebs like Steffi Graf, Andrea Agassi and Catherine Deneuve. So what's wrong with that? Comrade Gorbachev did set out to reform Soviet Communism, didn't he? He promised to peel away its injustice, tyranny, and inefficiency - and soon discovered there was nothing else there. He'd reformed it out of existence. It was like removing the criminality from a criminal conspiracy.
Now the old party boss is posing as the very image of capitalist decadence. It's a step up. In a way, he's a role model for reform. The world would be a better place if Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro were hawking luxury goods instead of dictating to their countrymen.
Rolandas Milinavicius, the owner of a car dealership in - where else? - Altanta, has been charged in the deaths of two of his employees after he was reported to have told police he'd shot both of them because they kept asking for raises. Goodness. No matter how pesky employees can be, couldn't Mr. Milina-vicious have just said No? This is the kind of news that gives one pause. Here I was just about to ask the boss for a raise.