And now, from our Department of Currents and Events, here is:

Subject: Merger Mania

NEW YORK, April 20 (AP) -- In a move that rocked the Street today,
Bert and Ernie announced that they had merged to form Bernie, a giant
conglomeration of felt that will move them into the No. 2 spot,
past Big Bird and just behind Barney. In recent years the two had lost
sponsorship from the letter P and the number 5, and analysts say
the merger will help solidify their market share.
"This is a logical move for us," Bert said. "'Share' is our
favorite word."
CONCORD, N.H., May 14 (Reuters) -- Continuing the wave of
consolidation that saw Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia join to form
Nationsouth, Vermont and New Hampshire signed a deal today that will
combine the two into one state with the motto "Live Free or Whatever."
The deal involves a stock swap in which cows from Vermont and
chickens from New Hampshire will be exchanged 1-for-1.
BANGOR, Me., Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Stephen King announced today
that he had acquired Joyce Carol Oates in a deal that will allow him to
increase production by as much as 125 percent, boosting his output to at
least one novel a month.

The new author, who will do business as Stephen, Joyce, King,
Carol and Oates, will be one of the most violent and critically acclaimed
novelists working today. Though Mr. King sells more books than Ms.
Oates, analysts say the acquisition of the respected writer will
help him make inroads into new markets, like college literature classes.
"It's a win-win situation," Mr. King said in an exclusive interview
with The New York Daily Newsday Times. "Joyce has the prestige I've
been looking for and is one of the few writers who can keep up with my
production schedule."

An earlier deal in which Mr. King had hoped to buy Upjohn Inc.
fell through when Mr. King was informed that the company was not John

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- In a deal that resonated in homes
across the country, Cats announced today that it had completed a hostile
takeover of Dogs.

The new company, which Cats said will be called OnePet, will
supplant the recently created Birdfishgroup as the world's largest
supplier of home companion services.
PARIS, Nov. 14 (Agence France-Presse) -- In what is thought to be
the biggest merger of all time, Men and Women have agreed to join
forces into one sex, to be called Humanicorp.

The details of the arrangement are still being hammered out, but
early negotiations have Men taking breasts. Women have agreed in
principle to watch ESPN but have refused to give up self-respect. There
are also serious antitrust issues that will need to be resolved.
A spokesman for Men, Bob, said that Men had been trying for years
to merge with Women and that this was the culmination of a long-held
dream for them. Women were unavailable for comment.
ROME, May 30, 2305 (Religious News Service) -- After several eons
of discord and competition for the souls of Humanicorp, God and
Satan have decided to merge in a deal that will join heaven and hell.
"Some say I've made a deal with the Devil," said God, who
appeared simultaneously on CNN, Fox News, the major networks and all
radios and personal computers, as well as in the sky. "But I prefer to
think of this as two former adversaries setting aside differences for the
good of consumers."

Those close to the delicate negotiations said that God would be
chairman of the combined company and that Satan would hold the post of

Merger talks broke off several centuries ago, in part because the
executives could not reach an agreement on who would run a
combined company.

Reminded of his famous rebuff of God at that time, "Better to
reign in hell than serve in heaven," Satan joked, "I take it back."
Satan's old organization, whose name is Legion, does not plan any


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