In this contest, readers are asked to identify the bogus news item. All three items are "reported" in similar style, from The American Spectator News Service. Two of them record actual events reported by other news outlets. (Certain telltale aspects of the real stories have been altered in order to prevent sneaky contestants from finding the items on the web.)
TAS NEWS SERVICE, MADRID (APR. 15, 2010): Antonio Tajani, the European Union Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, has announced a new human right: taxpayer-subsidized vacations. "Traveling for tourism today is a right," Tajani said. "The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life."
The pilot project, which is to begin in 2013, could cost up to half a billion dollars a year. Tajani said he believes that subsidizing holidays for seniors, the disabled, young adults, and poor families will build pride in European culture, prop up resorts in the off-season, and bring north and south closer.
A Tajani spokesman said, "Why should someone from the Mediterranean not be able to travel to Edinburgh in summer for a breath of cool, fresh air? Why should someone from Edinburgh not be able to travel to Greece in winter?"
In a related development, Greece reached an agreement with other euro-zone countries and the International Monetary Fund for a three-year, €110-billion ($146.5-billion) bailout. "We have no other choices and no time, so accessing the bailout is inevitable," Prime Minister George Papandreou said, vowing that his government won't "allow the country to become bankrupt."
TAS NEWS SERVICE, NEW YORK (APR. 20, 2010): The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today announced the election of the Islamic Republic of Iran to a four-year term on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The Commission is dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. The election of Iran to CSW came one week after the country withdrew its bid to join the UN Human Rights Council.
In related news, a respected Iranian cleric, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, speaking on the record, said that "Many women who do not dress modestly…lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity, and spread adultery in society, which consequently increases earthquakes." The U.S. Geological Survey, an unbiased, multidisciplinary U.S.-government organization that focuses on geography, geology, and geospatial information, has offered no comment on the accuracy of Cleric Sedighi's statement.
TAS NEWS SERVICE, WASHINGTON, D.C. (APR. 30, 2010): The Democratic-controlled Congress today reauthorized the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides vouchers to poor students in the District of Columbia. The popular program, which was enacted by Republicans in 2004, provides scholarships of up to $7,500 a year to enable students to attend the school of their parents' choice. The per-pupil cost in the D.C. public schools is $14,400 on average, among the highest in the country.
Democratic Party Whip Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D., D.C.) worked tirelessly to reauthorize the program. Congress is thought to have been influenced by a recent U.S. Department of Education study that found that Opportunity Scholarship Program students are performing at higher academic levels than their peers who are not in the program, and are better off by virtually every important measure in their chosen schools. Teachers' unions concurred in the study's findings.
In a related development, President Obama has announced that he and Mrs. Obama are considering sending their two children to a yet-undisclosed Washington, D.C., public school next year. The two children currently attend the exclusive Sidwell Friends School in Washington, where the tuition is $29,000 a year.