April Fool's Day International Relations Hoaxes
Europeans To Drive On Left Side.
French state-run radio announced that European motorists would soon be required to drive on the left side of the road, in order to help British drivers when they joined the Common Market. Almost immediately the radio station began receiving hundreds of phone calls from enraged French motorists. As a result, the station quickly confessed that the story was a hoax.
Tass Expands into American Market.
The Connecticut Gazette and Connecticut Compass, weekly newspapers serving the Old Lyme and Mystic areas, both announced they were being purchased by Tass, the official news agency of the Soviet Union. On their front pages they declared that this was "the first expansion of the Soviet media giant outside of the Iron Curtain." The article also revealed that after Tass had purchased the Compass, its two publishers had both been killed by "simultaneous hunting accidents" in which they had shot each other in the back of the head with "standard-issue Soviet Army rifles." An accompanying picture showed Gazette and Compass staff members wearing winter coats and fur hats, and carrying hockey sticks and bottles of vodka.
The announcement itself was bylined "By John Reed," and the new publisher, Vydonch U. Kissov, announced that the paper would be "thoroughly red." A new delivery system was also promised: cruise missiles (the publisher then admitted that this proposal was a 'leetle Soviet joke.') In response to the news, the offices of the Compass and the Gazette received calls offering condolences for the death of the publishers. One caller also informed them that he had long suspected
No Speed Limit for Germans.
L'Humanite, the French Communist Party newspaper, reported that because Germans had no speed limit on their own motorways, the European Commission had therefore decided to allow German drivers to drive as fast as they wanted throughout other EC countries.
The Today program on BBC Radio 4 announced that the British National anthem ("God Save the Queen") was to be replaced by a Euro Anthem sung in German. The new anthem, which Today played for their listeners, used extracts from Beethoven's music and was sung by pupils of a German school in London. Reportedly, Prince Charles's office telephoned Radio 4 to ask them for a copy of the new anthem. St. James Palace later insisted that it had been playing along with the prank and had not been taken in by it.
Interview With President Carter.
Michael Enright, host of the Sunday Edition of the Canadian Broadcasting Corpation's radio program This Morning, interviewed former President Jimmy Carter on the air. The interview was about softwood lumber, since Carter had recently written an editorial piece in the New York Times criticizing Canada's heavily subsidized lumber industry. However, the interview took a turn for the worse when Enright began telling Carter to speed up his answers. Then Enright asked, "I think the question on everyone's mind is, how did a washed-up peanut farmer from Hicksville such as yourself get involved in such a sophisticated bilateral trade argument?"
Carter seemed stunned by the insult. Finally he replied, "Excuse me? A washed-up pig farmer? You're one to talk, sir. Didn't you used to be on the air five times a week?" The tone of the interview did not improve from there. Carter ended up calling Enright a "rude person" before he hung up. Enright then revealed that the interview had been fake. The Toronto comedian Ray Landry had been impersonating Carter's voice.
The interview generated a number of angry calls from listeners who did not find the joke funny. But the next day the controversy
Oil Found in Japan.
The Tokyo Shimbun reported the discovery of a huge oil field (over 110 billion barrels, about the size of Iraqi reserves) in the Tokyo Gulf. It was predicted that this would tip the balance of power with Washington in Japan's favour.
Kenyan Troops To Serve in Iraq.
Kenya's East African Standard reported that the US forces in Iraq were actively recruiting reinforcements from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan. Troops from these regions were supposedly better adapted to desert conditions which were giving the US forces a "rough time."
Saddam Hussein Offered Job in South Africa.
South Africa's Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper scooped its rivals by reporting that, in a last minute deal to avoid war, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had accepted an offer of exile in South Africa. In exchange he would run South Africa's oil industry. Details of the arrangement included: Hussein would be given a game farm on which to live, and he would travel in a jet outfitted with a missile defense system. The US was said to be happy about the deal because it would make Hussein "somebody else's problem."
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