(STOCKHØLM) The Nobel Peace Prize Committee has acted to rescind Yasser Arafat’s Peace Prize effective immediately, and to give it to Hamas, the Palestinian Sunni Islamist organization currently governing the people of the Palestinian National Authority.

“They have it anyway,” said Jander Skølfin, Third Executive Director to the Vice Chairman of the Nobel Prize Committee. Skølfin was referring to Hamas’s acquisition yesterday of Arafat’s 1994 Peace Prize during Hamas’s exploratory sortee of Arafat’s premises.

Although the Committee had heard undocumented charges that Arafat had siphoned billions of dollars of humanitarian aid meant for the Palestinian people, that fact “came home,” as Skølfin phrased it, after the world witnessed the Palestinian people swipe Arafat’s widow’s clothes and shoes. “One day the world will know just how much Hamas really cares,” he added.

In making their decision, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee also cited Nobel Peace Prize winner and former US President Jimmy Carter, who, in January 2006, stated, “There have been no complaints of corruption against Hamas’s elected officials.”

Hamas joins other groups, rather than individuals, who have received the granddaddy of all awards. These include The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Labour Organization (I.L.O.) in Geneva, and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War located in Boston.

Making a Palm Sunday splash on the front page of the New York Times, Matthew Dowd, ex-aide to President Bush, says that because he has lost faith in Bush he must “speak out now.”

Dowd, a former Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat, says that Bush’s my-way-or-the-highway style of leadership has failed “not only the American people, but the Iraqi people and the diverse peoples of the world.”

Dowd, a self-described member of Bush’s inner circle, dismisses the suggestion that he has turned on the President because Karl Rove, and not Dowd, remains the president’s most trusted advisor. Rumors have circulated that tensions between the two began in 2004 over differing presidential campaign strategies in Ohio, which have since intensified.

According to one campaign insider who would only speak anonymously, Dowd wanted to pander to what he called the “marshmallow middle,” while Rove thought the best strategy was to rev up the “red-meat base.” Since that day, our source says, Rove has provocatively and repeatedly poked Dowd in the stomach — often in front of the President — and alternately called him “marshmallow man” or “Pillsbury dough boy,” which makes Dowd seethe.

What’s more, Dowd denies ever telling reporter Brandon Kirk of Roll Call that Rove should have been canned with Donald Rumsfeld, insisting that his lunchtime conversation with Kirk last November was “off the record.”

Kirk says otherwise. “I asked him flat out if I could quote [Dowd] on what he said about Rove, and he said ‘sh** yeah.’ I can’t help it if he had four martinis and can’t remember squat.”

Dowd, whose son is preparing for deployment in the Iraq War, has called for America’s immediate withdrawal from Iraq. In addition, the Times revealed today that Dowd penned a never-submitted “Kerry Was Right” op ed, which agreed with John Kerry’s call to unconditionally withdraw from Iraq.

Dowd bristled at his comparison with Judas as raised by Linda Tico, a FoxNews intern, during this morning’s short question-and-answer session at the Washington Press Club. Dowd admitted that “it never even occurred to me that this was Palm Sunday,” angrily adding, “I’m no more a Judas than Bush is a Jesus.”

Offers for interviews have poured in since Dowd’s announcement, jam-packing an already full itinerary. Besides interviews with CBS, ABC, NBC and PBS News, as well as the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, Newsweek, Time, US News and World Report, Harpers, The New Yorker, The Nation and The New Republic, he is scheduled to appear on next Sunday’s Sixty Minutes, as well as having a one-on-one sit-down with Barbara Walters that ABC has scheduled immediately following next Monday’s Dancing with the Stars.

In addition, Paramount Pictures announced yesterday that it has optioned Dowd’s story for a major motion picture in the fall of 2008, with Sean Penn, Robert Downey Jr. and George Clooney as suggested leads.

It was also announced on Thursday that Dowd has been short-listed for a 2007 Peabody Award in the Public Service category.

A short statement from the President’s office wished Dowd well in all his future endeavors.

(CARACAS) In an effort to stanch the eroding value of Venezuelan currency, President Hugo Chávez has issued a new currency with a new name, the “Bárbara.”

Chávez hopes to stem the steep tide of inflation by lopping off approximately two zeros and turning the 1000 bolivar coin into a coin valued at 12-1/2 “fuerte” or “strong” bolivars.

Chávez has nicknamed the new coin Bárbara because its copper color closely matches Barbara Walters’s henna hair. In addition, Barbara’s recent interview broadcast on ABC’s Good Morning America has “restored my currency as the most important leader of the Western Hemisphere.”

In her March 16th interview with Chávez, Walters called Chávez a “dignified man” and forgave him for calling President Bush a “devil” and a “donkey.”

Barbara added that Chávez “is not the crazy man that we have heard,” referring to Chávez’s famous rant earlier this year at the UN when he compared Bush to Satan.

“[Chávez] cares very much about poverty,” Barbara continued, explaining how he helped bring oil to the poor of the United States this winter. “This is a very intelligent man.”

Chávez dismisses his critics’ assessment that his takeover of oil, electric and phone companies, or his price fixing of commodities, or the exodus of foreign capital from Venezuela has anything to do with this year’s 20% spike in inflation, the highest in Latin America. “What else would you expect capitalists to say?”

Instead, Chávez blames food hoarders and black marketeers, which he called “puercos sucios” or “dirty pigs,” for jacking up prices on a broad range of commodities.

(NEW YORK CITY) The animal rights group PETA has formally petitioned NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg to save the KFC rats. In addition, a small but vocal group of protestors keeping a round-the-clock vigil outside of the restaurant in Greenwich Village vows to take necessary action to prevent what PETA calls mass “ratricide.”

Although many locals expressed disgust at seeing rats at KFC, PETA took the opposite tack, calling them “misunderstood rodents, too long maligned.” According to PETA spokesman Jeremy Swayzee, “they carry no more diseases than humans, and probably aren’t half as infectious.”

Bloomberg’s office declined to answer Swayzee’s petition, instead issuing a document reiterating New York City’s ordinance that requires KFC to exterminate the rats immediately or to face stiff fines or closure.

Local News Camera 2, a CBS affiliate, first caught sight of more than a dozen rats scampering on the floor, up and down chairs, and even across dining tables at the eatery. The video has been picked up by news affiliates around the world, even outlets as far away as France.

“Whoever first exposed them is a rat fink,” Swayzee said before self correcting. “No, make that a human fink.”

(HAVANA) — More than a year after Venezuela’s divisive reelection of Hugo Chavez, intelligence sources have confirmed that former President Jimmy Carter chartered a fishing boat from Caracas to Havana to pledge his support for Cuba’s longstanding dictator, Fidel Castro.

Although Carter initially denied the trip, satellite photos proved that he did indeed travel across the Caribbean immediately after declaring Hugo Chavez’s August 15, 2004 election valid.

The meeting between Carter and Fidel, broadcast widely on Cuban television and picked up by receivers at Guantanamo Bay, showed a cordial display of handshaking and backslapping followed by cigar smoking.

Despite the lack of audio, intel lip readers and Spanish translators have confirmed that Carter praised Cuba’s alleged 100% literacy, racial harmony and universal health care. Carter could not be reached for comment.

(SAINT-ETIENNE, France) Lance Armstrong does not think that Sen. John Kerry would make a terrific bicyclist but fears he’ll try anyway.

During his warmup for Saturday’s time trial, the Texan watched the Democrat from Massachusetts who was sitting in the back seat of a black Peugeot limousine under the Eiffel Tower.

Armstrong listed the Senator’s losing qualities. “What made him so awful during the presidential election was the lack of focus, discipline, intelligence and strategic ability– his inability to just take it on and go,” Armstrong said.

Those qualities would not serve Kerry well were he a bicycle racer, Armstrong said. “I think he’d be terrible; he’d be a loser. I just hope he doesn’t race for our team,” said Armstrong, an avid fan of politics.

Armstrong said he had tapes of last year’s acceptance speech by Kerry delivered during the Democratic National Convention last year.

Kerry, who has no plans to retire from the Senate, sealed his historic loss for the presidency last November. He has not ruled out a career in bicycling should he lose again.

Like Kerry haters around the world, Armstrong refuses to wear his hair in the bouffant style, but he did release all his records when pressed to do so, which Kerry has yet to do.

“He’s a loser with an fraudulent personal story, and he doesn’t understand regular folks,” Armstrong said of Kerry’s losing effort. “He’s one of the most pathetic political failures of all time,” he said. “His sheer stupidity is stunning.”

(BROOKLINE) A quick meal with campaign contributors at Tortilla Palace in this upscale Boston suburb turned into a gastric disaster for also-ran John F. Kerry. Forced to comment while doubled over in the restaurant’s parking lot, all Kerry could say was, “It gives new meaning to the expression cut and run.”

(WASHINGTON) CNN puts Bush up by five; Zogby has him up by three; Gallop by eight. What gives? Could clandestine manipulation by the junior Senator from New York have something to do with it? Sources inside the posh Capitol Hill offices of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton say yes.

Phone records turned into Fit-To-Print News indicate frequent daily calls to all three polling organizations, in addition to Rasmussenreports, which also shows the President pulling away in his race against Massachusetts’s own junior Senator John Kerry.

Hillary said privately on Tuesday that the more Bush appears to lead Kerry in the polls, the lower traditional Democratic voter turnout will be. Critics have long argued that Hillary Clinton would prefer to see Kerry lose to make way for her own nomination in 2008, though she has flatly denied it.

“You can see it in her eyes,” our source reports. “She’s like a starved woman slavering over a Thanksgiving dinner. She can almost taste the presidency.”

A witness corroborated, adding, “If she had a mustache, she’d be twisting it like Simon Legree.”

Insiders also insist that a recent press release stating that Hillary’s post-op husband Bill is too fatigued to campaign for Kerry are greatly exaggerated. “I watched him absolutely cream Mary Beth Cahill in a squash match last Tuesday,” our source said. “His sweat had sweat, if you know what I mean.”

(NEW YORK) — In a fiery speech in Harlem’s famed John the Baptist church, Clinton demanded Kerry step down as the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democrat Party.

hillary-and-bill-in-church.JPG“We need honesty from our leaders,” he said, pounding his fist on the pulpit. “And Kerry hasn’t been honest.”

Flanked by his wife Hillary, and Al Sharpton, Clinton excoriated Kerry as a serial exaggerator who fudged on his war-time activities. “He won’t feel your pain like I feel your pain,” Clinton said, paraphrasing one of his more memorable lines. “Because he’s never felt pain.”

Members of the congregation met Clinton’s remarks with repeated “amens,” and “praise the Lords.”

Clinton’s wife, Hillary, now junior Senator from New York, is widely regarded as 2008’s presidential front runner on the Democrat side. Clinton, however, refused to suggest his wife as Kerry’s replacement, should he step down.


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