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New Health Threat Has Americans Hopping Mad and Running Scared
Above: Carriers of the disease have been known to display superhuman feats of strength, thereby enabling them to carry all of the merchandise they've purchased.

ATLANTA, Ga. (SP) — Mere months since the SARS virus caused a worldwide panic, a new health threat has emerged in the United States. Scientists call the condition BSE, which is short for Bargain Shopping Encephalopathy, but it is more commonly known as "Grab Now" Disease.

According to Dr. Afshin Jahromi of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the disease has an acute effect on the brain by causing the affected individual to have an overwhelming urge to proceed immediately to the nearest department store in order to purchase discounted goods.

Scientists have been at a loss to explain when and where the disease originated, although the earliest reported cases emerged shortly after U.S. Thankgiving, and it seems to have reached its peak on December 26th. On that date, in cities across the United States, as well as in the U.S. protectorate of Guam, there were reports of possible carriers of the disease lining up at shopping malls hours before they opened in order to acquire heavily discounted goods that were only available in limited quantities.

Above: Long lines of individuals infected with the disease were commonplace on Boxing Day.

Despite the absence of any scientific evidence to explain the origin of the disease, the Bush administration didn't hesitate to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of America's neighbour to the north, Canada. "Canadians may seem quiet and unassuming, but with their weak currency and cheap pharmaceuticals, they represent a very real threat to the well-being of American consumers," said U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge.

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin disputes the mere suggestion that Canada has had anything to do with the Grab Now epidemic, and points out that the Canadian dollar has appreciated more that 20% against the U.S. dollar in the last year.

Above: Martin denies that the disease originated in Canada, but admits that Santa Claus was one of the largest financial contributors to his leadership campaign.

Despite Martin's denials, President Bush has issued a directive that all commercial flights originating from Canada must be accompanied by F-16 fighter jets in order to be permitted to enter U.S. airspace. Furthermore, the U.S. Customs Department has stated that it reserves the right to detain and interrogate any passenger that it suspects of carrying the disease. The Canadian Civil Liberties Union has accused U.S. Customs officials of profiling those whom it is choosing to interrogate in a discriminatory manner, by regarding with suspicion anyone who bought their plane ticket at an especially high rate of discount.

As a good faith gesture, and perhaps in an effort to improve the tenuous state of Canada-U.S. relations, Prime Minister Martin has placed a moratorium on all bargains, sales and discounts at retail outlets throughout Canada until further notice. He has also appointed a board of inquiry to attempt to ascertain the cause of Grab Now Disease. Board members will include "Honest" Ed Mirvish and Russell "Cashman" Oliver, and will be chaired by former Toronto Mayor and remaindered furniture salesman Mel Lastman. "By the time this inquiry is complete, I'm confident that nobody will be looking to Canada as the source of Grab Now Disease," said Lastman. "Nooooooobody!!!"

Above: Members of the Lastman Inquiry are confident that no link will be found between Canada and Grab Now Disease.
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