In testimony before Congress today, the acting head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said that the United States could handle both an outbreak of bird flu and a major hurricane as long as the hurricane successfully eradicated the bird population.

R. David Paulison said that the agency was putting a series of plans in place to deal with a possible bird flu pandemic, but added, “We’re really counting on a major hurricane to do the heavy lifting for us, bird-killing-wise.”

Mr. Paulison also outlined a series of scenarios his agency has been developing in which birds are wiped out by other natural disasters, such as tornadoes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

“These birds think they’re pretty tough, but just you wait,” he said. “They’re no match for molten lava.”

While some in Congress questioned the wisdom of relying on natural disasters of an almost biblical nature to destroy the nation’s birds and thus stave off a bird flu pandemic, Mr. Paulison called such skepticism “narrow-minded.”

“Disasters are our friend,” he said. “Look how good Iraq has been for Halliburton.”

Failing a major disaster to wipe out the bird population, Mr. Paulison said that every man, woman and child in America could do his or her share by killing one bird a day.

“Everyone in this country is capable of killing a bird, except Dick Cheney,” he said.

Elsewhere, rapper Eminem said he regretted the demise of his three-month-long marriage to wife Kim, telling reporters, “I thought we would last forever, or at least as long as Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney.”



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