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CIVIL WAR ENTHUSIASTS BURN ATLANTA TO GROUND
ATLANTA The city of Atlanta was destroyed and 230,000 were killed Sunday when a group of overzealous Civil War buffs marched through the Georgia capital, burning it to the ground.
"It was very exciting," said Bob Gerhardt, 43, president of the Maryland Civil War Preservation Society, the group responsible for the attack. "We rode in on horseback just after dawn, crossing the Chattahoochee and approaching the city from the west, just as General Sherman did in 1864. We even used the same kind of kerosene as the Union Army. No detail was spared."
The attack began just before 6 a.m., when guests at Atlanta's Peachtree Plaza hotel were awakened by the sound of a cast-iron cannonball blasting through the lobby. Within an hour, the 71-story building was engulfed in flames. By noon, the destruction had spread through the entire downtown area.
"First the Braves lose the World Series, and now my whole family is dead," said Atlanta resident Ben Halleran. "This has been quite a week."
While the attack caused some $2.1 billion in damage, it did have a positive side, since the city's 124,000 black residents were freed.
"Run, run free!" Preservation Society member Phil Spillner, a Baltimore-area dentist, shouted to a group of black men near the CNN Building. "You have all been freed! God bless President Lincoln!"
Nearby, at the Georgia Dome, a battalion of Union soldiers stormed onto the field during the third quarter of the Atlanta Falcons' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, emancipating a number of Falcons, including All-Pro linebacker Jessie Tuggle.
According to Gerhardt, the history buffs plan to continue their assault on the heart of Dixie, marching all the way to Savannah.
"We will drive the Rebels to the sea," said Phyllis Borelli, a Silver Spring, MD, legal secretary. "Ooh, this is so fascinating I feel like I'm really there!"
The Atlanta attack is the most destructive historical reenactment since 1991, when a group of Cleveland-area WWII buffs dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. October 30, 1996
DESPERATE VEGETARIANS DECLARE COWS PLANTS
LAS VEGAS At its annual national conference Saturday, the American Association of Vegans and Vegetarians released results of a detailed in-house study determining that the common beef cow is actually a plant, 100 percent fit for vegetarian consumption.
"Contrary to what was previously thought, the cow is not a higher form of animal life, capable of thinking and feeling pain," announced AAVV spokeswoman Denise Chalmers to the large crowd. "Rather, we have found it to be a harmless, non-sentient form of plant life, utterly incapable of experiencing the slightest pain or simplest thought."
Chalmers then passed around a large tray of dripping red meat, which the vegetarians in attendance ravenously devoured, feverishly licking the bloody juice from their fingers.
According to the AAVV researchers who conducted the study, cows feature many of the basic characteristics of plants. In addition to possessing roots, leaves and branches, cows produce pollen, which in the springtime is eagerly devoured by honey bees.
"The bees swarm feverishly around the cow, eager to get a taste of its delicious nectar," Chalmers said. "The cow, however, is usually too busy taking up water through its hooves, or 'roots,' to even notice."
Cows, say researchers, also practice photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into chemical energy.
"When exposed to sunlight, the cow produces chlorophyll," researcher Darrick Holten explained. "The cow then uses the chlorophyll to produce chemical energy."
Added Holten: "A very similar process occurs in chickens."
According to Chalmers, the study's findings will not alter the AAVV's basic viewpoint. "Animals still should not be eaten, and meat is murder," she said.
The study results also shed new light on the reproductive process of cows, which had been shrouded in mystery since the animal was discovered 200 years ago.
"Cows reproduce much like the common pine tree," Holten said. "They develop a hard, bristly, fertilized cone, drop it on the ground and await the natural elements of wind, rain and animal life to carry it to open forest territory."
Overall reaction at the conference was muted at first, as many of the vegetarians expressed surprise, then glee, at the unexpected announcement. Some rushed madly to the trays of processed lunch meats lined up on buffet tables around the hall, knocking over bystanders and onlookers in a mad dash for freshly carved roast beef.
"It does not taste anything like meat," vegetarian Tina Mothersby said. "It's chewy like a boiled carrot or even like a nice chunk of sourdough bread."
Added Chalmers: "Cows are plants, and we feel pretty silly for avoiding them for as long as we have. Inside the stockyard warehouse near my Chicago home is not a meat locker, but a plant locker, and that fetid stench is not one of cow heads festering in a maggot-covered pile, but rather of ripe vegetables ready to be prepared in myriad delicious ways."
Due to the overwhelming acceptance on the part of the vegetarian crowd, the AAVV announced plans to move ahead with studies proving that the pig and duck are plants. Mutton, however, is still meat. Janury 23, 1996
NRA SHIFTS FOCUS FROM GUNS TO PENMANSHIP
MEMPHIS, TN The nation's largest gun lobby announced Friday that it will no longer serve as a gun-rights champion and will focus instead on the battle for neater, more legible penmanship. Across the country, the National Rifle Association will sponsor Good Penmanship Workshops: men-only, military-style boot camps in which students who do not achieve a passing grade in basic penmanship will be shot. New NRA television commercials are already airing, featuring spokesman Charlton Heston, who says in his gravelly baritone, "There are those who would try to take away your right to good penmanship. Join me in telling them, 'Get your hands off me, you filthy apes!'" September 5, 1995