The popular humor Web site The Onion is winning some praise for its treatment of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the following aftermath. The consistently irreverent site avoided posting new material until Sept. 26, when it reappeared with a fresh slate of satiric headlines. Some examples: "Not Knowing What Else To Do, Woman Bakes American-Flag Cake," "Dinty Moore Breaks Long Silence On Terrorism With Full-Page Ad," "God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule" and "Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell." Chicago Tribune columnist Joe Salkowski notes that many comics have tip-toed around the subject so far, but The Onion "succeeded wildly" with its approach -- "mixing irony and anger into a hilarious parody that validates the Internet's role as a breeding ground for brave content no traditional media outlet would touch."
(Thanks to UPI's Joe Warminsky in Washington)
THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND
Pakistan may have been one of the first Islamic countries to be led by a woman (Benazir Bhutto) but that doesn't make the place politically correct.
There's considerable grumbling among the military men who now run the Asian country that the Bush administration made a mistake in appointing women as the top American officials for the nation. U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin -- who arrived in Islamabad just 28 days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington -- has powerful credentials as director of counter-terrorism in the first Bush White House 10 years ago. But that has little impact on the macho generals, tribal chieftains and religious leaders who are now the key players in Pakistan.
Senior Pakistanis also complain about Christina Rocca, the assistant secretary of State for South Asia -- although her credentials as the former senior CIA official for the region are even more impressive. Include the name of national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to the list and even Westernized and English-speaking Pakistanis are telling their Washington contacts that they feel edgy about dealing with an America "whose policy for this region seems to be entirely run by women."
(From UPI Hears)
NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS
A special issue of Shape magazine lists what it considers the top-20 hottest celebrities on the planet:
-- Matthew McConaughey ("U-571")
-- Colby Donaldson ("Survivor II")
-- Michael Bergin ("Baywatch")
-- Tyrese (MTV, "Baby Boy")
-- Nick Lachey (98 Degrees)
-- James Marsters ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer")
-- Cristián De La Fuente ("Driven")
-- Casper Van Dien ("Starship Troopers")
-- Erik Palladino ("ER")
-- Antonio Sabáto, Jr. (actor, model)
-- Sarah Michelle Gellar ("Buffy")
-- Halle Berry ("X-Men")
-- Jorja Fox ("CSI")
-- Nancy O'Dell ("Access Hollywood")
-- Susanna Thompson ("Once and Again")
-- Catherine Bell ("JAG")
-- Daisy Fuentes (TV host, actress)
(Web site: shape.com)
TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING
Denver has canceled plans for a downtown New Year's celebration because of the heightened risk of terrorism and related security costs.
"It's not a risk anyone wants to take at this time," C.L. Harmer, a spokeswoman for City Safety Manager Ari Zavaras, told the Denver Post.
Business leaders were raising money for the New Year's celebration, but they could not raise the money necessary to hire additional officers requested recently by the police.
Andre van Hall, general manager of the Adam's Mark Hotel and co-organizer of the celebration, said the lack of city support put an end to the idea. "Raising money for fireworks was going to be a stretch, but paying for police protection put it completely out of our reach," he said.
Despite no formal celebration, Mayor Wellington Webb said that shouldn't discourage patronage of downtown restaurants on New Year's. "This year, while the current conditions are preventing a large celebration from being held, we still want folks to come down and enjoy all that downtown has to offer," he said.
AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY
At 8:45 a.m. ET Tuesday -- one month to the minute after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center --- the Web site U2infinity.com transmitted into deep space a voice message honoring the first victims of this tragic day in history.
The idea is that once beyond the Earth's atmosphere, this memorial will travel forever and will remain long after the memory of those responsible for so many deaths has disappeared.
"We want the Universe to remember, for eternity, the innocent and heroic passengers and crewmembers on American Airlines flights 11 and 17, and United Airlines flights 93 and 175.
"To them, we say:
"You who unknowingly were on the front lines in an act of war,
"You who had to bear pain and fear that we could not share,
"You who were the first to lose the gift of life,
"You will never be forgotten,
"America will never forget you and the other souls who lost their lives at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in the fields of Pennsylvania. God bless America and all peace loving nations of the world."
This statement was followed by a reading of all the names of the innocent passengers and crew of the four planes that went down on Sept. 11.
(The original message can be heard at u2infinity.com/memorialflash.html.)
Aaron Carter is still in love with Hilary Duff
NBC reportedly holds celebs hostage to Jimmy Fallon's show