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april fools

Round-up: The best of today's April Fool's Day stories

Twitter’s going down to 133 characters; Skype has solved the difficulty of poor coverage… and Bertie’s moving to Nigeria.

Updated, 16.10

YES, IT’S APRIL 1, which means that there’s a decent chance you could have been taken in by any number of not-so-true stories doing the rounds in the papers and on the interweb today.

Because it’s well past noon now – the time by which it’s informally adjudged to be in bad taste to pull a fast one on a reader – we thought we’d digest some of the best April Fool’s Day gags on the interwebs and in today’s papers.

Kicking off with the Sunday World and the Irish Mail on Sunday – both of which have independently reported on the news that Bertie Ahern is leaving Ireland to live full-time Nigeria.

“There is nothing for me in Ireland any more,” the former Taoiseach told Sunday World writer ‘Paddy D Plasterer’, later adding that he was learning the Yoruba language spoken in the country.

“Yoruba is what they speak. It’s a bit like Irish. They tell me I’m almost as fluent now in Yoruba as I am in English.”

The Sunday World also carries a sidebar story from noted sports writer Gary Owen, who reports that the EU was told Ireland to stop funding juvenile hurling in schools because of on-pitch violence.

“This is an important step in ensuring that European children are not being groomed to grow up as violent adults,” chuckled fake MEP Claus von Lask.

Sinne Something Else, Atá Faoi Gheall…

The Sunday Business Post carries a small piece on its front page discussing the continued fallout of the Mahon Tribunal – which has encouraged Fine Gael backbenchers to look for a new national anthem.

Apparently the Constitutional Convention will set up a group to examine whether the words “Sinne Fianna Fáil” should be removed from the anthem, as they refer to a political party.

Among the people on the group picking the anthem are Ireland’s Call composer Phil Coulter, Jedward babysitter Louis Walsh, historian Diarmuid Ferriter and Irish Times polemicist Fintan O’Toole. RTÉ, it appears, are keen to run an X Factor-style show to pick the new anthem. (Spoiler alert…)

On a similar musical vein, RTÉ’s Ten entertainment section says One Direction – fresh from their US chart success – are to go their own separate directions(!), after acknowledging they can never be quite as big as the Beatles were.

Today FM snuck a final report into their news this morning – saying Mario Rosenstock had been appointed as a new ambassador for international tourism, necessitating his departure from the station’s Gift Grub.

“I want everyone when they think of Ireland to smile and hopefully come and visit,” tourism minister Leo Varadkar didn’t say. “There is no one better than Mario Rosenstock  to achieve this. On coming to office we said we would do politics differently and this is an example.”

The newspaper gags in the UK are a little more focussed on the current political climate. The Observer reports that Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder has been appointed as an advisor to the Conservative Party on class issues.

It quotes a Downing Street source as saying Ryder – who is, apparently, not quite as big a Labour supporter as had been suggested – would help to stop the Tories from being seen as a “party of the rich”, in the wake of the controversial move to put a 20 per cent VAT on the pasty.

The Mail on Sunday goes for a similar story – saying that in an effort to quell public anger at the pasty tax, a 9 per cent levy is to be put on chilled champagne – apparently billed as an environmental measure.

The suggestion is that champagne is best served at between 6°C and 7°C – and that chilling a bottle to this temperature uses more electricity and increases the carbon footprint of a bottle.

Eau d’Emirates

The Sun opts for a footballing gag, saying Arsenal – the Premier League’s most soundly-financed team – are about to expand their commercial operations by launching their own fragrance.

This isn’t just the typical fragrance, however – the musk smells like the Emirates stadium, including hints of the smell of the stadium’s luxury corporate cuisine, and the smell of striker Robin van Persie’s hair products. Helpfully, the paper got England midfielder Jack Wilshere to pose with a bottle.

Keeping the footballing theme going, says a unified team from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will be allowed to compete in Euro 2012 this year – with journalist ‘Rick O’Shea’ (no, not the DJ) saying a temporary joint team has been given the nod by UEFA.

Apparently, to include aspects of each side’s tradition, the side’s anthem will include the lyrics of God Save The Queen but be sung to the tune of Amhrán na bhFiann. Its new press officer Eamon Dunphy said the development wasn’t “good news – it’s great news”.

When tech goes retro

On the tech side of things, there’s been a couple of gems from some of the usual suspects: Google has gone for a double-whammy, announcing Google Maps for NES – making one of its most useful online services compatible with a 27-year-old piece of hardware.

There’s also the revelation that Google’s fibre optic team has actually been working on fibre of a different kind; and a back-to-the-future moment of genius from the Gmail team: why worry about typing emails using 26 letters, when you can get by with only two?

Skype has gone similarly retro – coming up with an innovative way to get over poor signal or internet coverage. Presenting, Skype for String.

American public broadcaster NPR took a simple approach, exploiting the era of Facebook and Twitter news-sharing by only bothering to write a headline for their April 1 gag.

The ultimate winner – ‘NPR Source: Tweets Will Shrink To 133 Characters’ – includes the 20 runners-up that didn’t make the cut, including ‘Facebook adds ‘Meh’ button’, ‘Lady Gaga To Open Olympic Ceremonies With 20 Singing Kittens’, and ‘Internet Goes Down, Experts Advise: Reboot’.

Elsewhere, Richard Branson is launching ‘Virgin Volcanic’ – a vehicle which will bring passengers to the depths of the ocean (screw you, James Cameron!), and his own currency, the Branson, to be used at all Virgin Holidays destinations and which may well outlast the euro.

Finally, one story that you’ll hope is an April Fool’s gag: in the Chinese city of Dongyang, one ancient delicacy is being enjoyed as popularly as ever. There, eggs are cooked in pots of the urine of young boys as a springtime treat.

“If you eat this, you will not get heat stroke,” one street seller cryptically predicts to Reuters. Fair enough.

An honourable mention to Ryanair, who this morning trumpeted that they had won regulatory approval to start trial flights including a number of ‘standing seats’. We honestly had to check that one out.

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