News Flash: EU Carbon Cap-and-Trade System Considers New Fitness Regimen

La Satira News Service

Environmentalists applauded the release of a study this week that recommended the European Union extend its cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide emissions to fitness centers and gymnasiums.

“One of the major goals most people have when they commence a fitness program is getting rid of excess fat,” said Arturo Scomodo, one of the authors of the study.  “And we all know that when you burn fat to create energy, you produce carbon dioxide.  So we have a whole industry out there whose main purpose is to increase the release of CO2 into the atmosphere.  If we’re serious about greenhouse gases, we’ve got to get a handle on this significant emissions source.”

The purpose of the Emissions Trading System is to give industries a financial incentive to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.  The emplacement of a limit on total emissions creates a market in which large industries must either become more efficient or purchase credits permitting them to keep emitting at the same rate.

Under the fitness center proposal, gymnasiums and fitness centers in members of the EU Emissions Trading System would be required to install devices to monitor CO2 levels during the hours of operation.   Data from these monitors would be used to estimate the CO2 emissions from such establishments and set an overall cap on allowable CO2 emissions.  Caps on individual locations would then be allocated according to the centers’ membership at the time.  The caps would then be reduced over time to encourage individual fitness centers to reduce their carbon output, either by installing equipment to capture CO2 or encouraging their patrons to breathe less while exercising.

Fitness centers that exceeded their allowances would be required to purchase carbon credits from other centers with more efficient carbon restraints.  Centers could also earn credits for installing equipment to convert energy expended on treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bicycles into electricity that could be either used to run the center or else fed back into the grid.

Critics of the proposal point to the expense of installing and running the monitor systems, to say nothing of the expensive carbon-capture systems that would ultimately be required by the lowering of emissions targets over time.  The increased expense could force fitness centers to raise their membership prices, undermining other government initiatives to encourage exercise and healthy lifestyles.  Alternatively, the expense could force many individuals to get their exercise through outdoor activities in which it would be impossible to capture the CO2 produced.

A formal proposal for incorporating this scheme into Phase Three of the EU Emissions Trading System implementation will be considered later this year.

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News Flash: License Agreement Dooms Supermarket Chain

La Satira News Service

Software giant Macrohardt announced today that it was exiting the retail grocery business citing several months of dismal returns.

Macrohardt opened its EulaMart grocery chain last year in a blaze of publicity claiming the new stores would make grocery shopping as easy as going online.

“We are looking to make grocery shopping easy and even fun,” said project manager Ernest Nutter upon the chain’s launch.  “It ought to be as simple as an online game.  Of course you’ll get more exercise at EulaMart.”

The stores received mixed reviews on selection and price, but generally negative reviews overall.

“It doesn’t surprise me that they’re going out of business,” said shopper Claudia Fritz.  “The prices are okay, but shopping here isn’t necessarily the best experience.  I mean, making you sign a license agreement just to get in the door?  Really?”

Asked recently about the pages-long license agreement customers are required to sign upon entering the store, Mr. Nutter, the project manager, minimized the inconvenience.  “In this litigious society, you can’t be too careful,” he said.  “Even in the world of electronic publishing you need a paper trail.  It only makes sense to ensure everyone understands what their rights and responsibilities are, and where the different grocery items can be found.  And we only make them sign one the first time they come in.  And when we remodel.  And if the customer moves.  And if we open a new location.”

EulaMart stores have presented other challenges to the casual customer.

“Just try getting customer service,” sniffed shopper Erik Red.  “The staff can only provide the most basic of answers to the most basic of questions.  Anything beyond that and you have to call a help-line.  And then at the check-out.  We’re there in person.  They’ve got our credit card, and our photo-id:  do they really need to make us answer a ‘CAPTCHA’?” he asked, referring to the software tool used to prevent certain types of computer attacks.

Macrohardt may begin shuttering the EulaMart stores at the company’s discretion, without notice to the customers.

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News Flash: Tourist from Oz Perishes in Flume Ride

Tragedy struck the Five Pennants Amusement Park on Elfrank-Baum Road this afternoon when a passenger on the park’s flume ride perished in a freak mishap.

Authorities have identified the hapless tourist as the Wicked Witch of the West-South-West.  Ms. West-South-West was on her first visit to the park, having arrived in town the previous day from her home country, Oz.

The ride, in which passengers ride on a mechanical train around a set course before dropping into a pool of water, appeared to be working properly but was closed for the rest of the day pending an examination by the safety authorities.  Witnesses suggested that Ms. West-South-West had had some sort of medical reaction.

“Of course, lots of people scream on a flume ride,” said Margaret Burke, who was in the seat immediately in front of Ms. West-South-West, “but as we plunged down that slope, it did seem like she was screaming a little bit louder than most.  Then we hit the water, and she suddenly called out something like, ‘I’m melting, I’m melting!’  Then when we stopped to get off, I looked back, and all that was left was her clothes and a little pool of green slime.”

“This was clearly an accident waiting to happen,” claimed Nikko Lodeon, spokesbeing for the law firm of Winged Monkeys and Associates, who had recently represented Ms. West-South-West in a patent-infringment case regarding some exotic shoes.  “There should have been better warning about possible exposure to water.”  Mr. Lodeon indicated that the law firm is considering a lawsuit to force the park to post a sign explicitly stating that riders may get wet.

Nicholas Claus, the manager of the Five Pennants park, acknowledged the tragedy but dismissed the complaint.  “It’s a flume ride,” he said.  “There’s obviously water involved when you get on.  People expect to get at least a little wet.  In fact most would be disappointed if they didn’t.”  He declined to comment further on the possiblity of litigation.

When asked about the possibility of repatriating Ms. West-South-West’s remains, a spokesman for the police department replied that they were looking to do so as soon as possible and were relying on the National Weather Service to let them know when an opportunity would present itself.

News Flash: Batcave Embroiled in Zoning Dispute

Millionaire Bruce Wayne filed an appeal with the Gotham City Board of Zoning Adjustment yesterday morning following the rejection by the City Planning Commission of an application for a Special Use Permit covering a facility known as “The Batcave.”  Mr. Wayne is representing local personality Batman, the ostensible owner of the cave, who according to Mr. Wayne is temporarily unavailable.

The case arose after neighbors noticed an unusual amount of noise coming from the vicinity of property near Wayne Manor, Mr. Wayne’s residence.  Neighbors reported sightings of low-flying aircraft and jet-propelled cars in what is otherwise a quiet residential neighborhood.  Subsequent investigation by the city led to the discovery of the Batcave facility, which was found to be in violation of the zoning rules for that district.

“I am astonished,” said Louis W. Quaggmyre, the Planning Commissioner for the district in which the Batcave is located.  “The request to give this obviously non-conforming use a legal basis is absurd.  Here we have a facility being used as a garage, an airport hanger, a data-processing center, a laboratory–we assume a power generation facility as well…even if we don’t know where it is exactly, how is any of this consistent with the uses defined in the Residential-Agricultural district that covers the general area?”

During the initial zoning review, Mr. Wayne argued that the uses described should fall under the definition of “legal nonconforming” on the grounds that the Batcave already existed when the current zoning rules were adopted.  He declined to provide evidence to back that claim.

The application for the Special Use Permit was offered as a way to break the impasse, Mr. Wayne asserted.  A Planned Unit Development designation had been considered but rejected by Batman.  Applying for PUD zoning would have required a definitive land survey to show the location of the district boundaries, which presented certain security problems.

James Gordon, the Gotham City Police Commissioner, appeared in support of the permit, pointing out the important work Batman had performed in the course of public safety and crime-fighting.

“If Batman is that keen on law and order,” responded Lionel R. Albatross, the District 27 Planning Commissioner, “he ought to appreciate the importance of abiding by municipal zoning regulations.”

The Planning Commission went on to deny the application.  The case will be heard before the Board of Zoning Adjustment in six weeks’ time.  Meanwhile, the city has ordered the Batcave to cease operations until the case is resolved.

In other news, city leaders are at a loss to explain an overnight spike in crime rates in the Gotham City area.

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News Flash: Ebenezer Scrooge Cited for Disorderly Conduct

London, 7 February 1844.

City businessman Ebenezer Scrooge appeared in the Old Bailey this morning to answer charges of disorderly conduct.

“I like a bit of Christmas cheer as well as anyone,” said Lucius Gimpthorne, one of his neighbors, “but there’s a time and a place for everything.  Must he continue to sing Christmas songs in February?”

In his defense, solicitor Sir Percival Grimes, Q.C., noted the abrupt change in character exhibited by Mr. Scrooge since Christmas and suggested that his insistence on singing carols merely demonstrated that he was making good on his promise to keep the spirit of Christmas throughout the year.  “There are, it seems, those who would prefer the dour, tight-fisted monster which we were obliged to endure prior to his ennobling experience,” Grimes was quoted as saying, “whatever that experience was, exactly.”

“Spirit of Christmas, he calls it?” said Gimpthorne.  “Spirit of something; don’t ask me what.  We’re all pleased at his improved character, but there are more ways to exhibit the spirit of Christmas than singing it.  What’s next?  People leaving their Christmas decorations up all year round?”

A verdict in the case is expected within the week.

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News Flash: Hercules Cited for Environmental Infractions

Athens—The Ancient Greek Environmental Defense Administration (AGEnDA) today reported that it had levied a fine against Hercules for environmental violations related to his attempts to clean the stables of Augeas, the king of Elis and former Argonaut. Hercules had taken on this job as part of a twelve-step program to reclaim his honor.

In order to clean the stables, AGEnDA claims Hercules diverted two rivers to flow through the stables, thereby removing several years’ worth of agricultural waste.

“We’re talking about major environmental impacts here,” said an AGEnDA representative who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution. “Even if such waterway diversions were permissible, we have found no evidence that Hercules even attempted to consult with us, or with the Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over inland waterways. And don’t even get me started on the issue of degradation of downstream water quality.”

When asked to comment on his failure to obtain the appropriate environmental clearances, Hercules said, “Now that would have been a Herculean effort.”

In a related action, Augeas himself was cited for inhumane treatment of animals for keeping his livestock in unsanitary conditions. Augeas was unavailable for comment, having been murdered by Hercules in a quarrel over payment for services rendered.

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