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Have they got news for you.

Bitter, but very, very funny, even in these bleak times biting satire is alive and well on the web

The web last week witnessed the return of America’s the Onion website, which had temporarily pulled its stories following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Understandably, many were so shocked by the events on 11 September that it would have been wholly inappropriate use satire to make serious points.

But now, a few weeks on, those behind the irreverent website seem to think we need something to put a smile back on our faces. So after its short period of mourning, the Onion is back.

It is the classic spoof news site, and even the targets are obviously based firmly in America, it is still one of the best reads.

At www.theonion.com you are treated to such stories as ‘Highjackers surprised to find themselves in Hell’, and ‘God angrily clarifies “Don’t kill” rules’.

The style is impeccable, the stories take very original angles, and the lay out is so good you could be forgiven for thinking you were reading a real America news site.

It calls itself ‘America’s finest news source’ which might not be true, but at least it raises a smile in these bleak times.

In fact it is one of those rare sites that will invariably make you laugh out loud, much to the annoyance of your colleagues. But it does have a serious side as well, including links through to various charities that have been set up in the wake of the attacks.

Over in the UK, www.thebrainstrust.co.uk is a more subtle version, described by The Guardian as ‘the son of the Onion’.

Even the BBC describes it as the funniest satire site on the web.

Its aim is to ‘provide, minister, undermine and tease the corrupt, the powerful, the smug and anyone who gets up our noses’, and it goes some way to achieving this.

It also claims that its writers are connected to high political places so some of the stories might actually be true. The headline ‘PM appoints himself as next BBC chair’ could well have a ring of truth.

It is a shame that it is only produced fortnightly, but it is high on content, so worth dipping into on a regular basis.

The long-established, anti-establishment Private Eye has a rather limited presence on the web, simply repeating a selection of stories from its magazine.

At least at www.private-eye.co.uk you don’t have to wait for the office copy to be passed around and when someone asks you whether you’ve seen the latest front cover you can answer in the affirmative. Again it is only updated fortnightly, but then, you can’t spend all your time looking at these sites – you have to leave some time for that classic take on office life, Dilbert. At www.dilbert.com there is something for everyone who has had to endure a tedious meeting, odious boss or hideous working environment. There are downloads aplenty and you can sign up to have the cartoon strip delivered to your desktop. Guaranteed to give your laughing muscles a daily workout. Our pick of the satirical websites to brighten up your working week www.theonion.com Back after a period of mourning, the site has not lost any of its bite and, if anything, has got even funnier. Updated weekly. ***** www.private-eye.co.uk Online version of anti-establishment satirical magazine. It’s not great on content, but worth it just for the front covers. Updated fortnightly. *** www.thebrainstrust.co.uk UK ‘Son of the Onion’, more subtle, but comes with rave reviews. Claims that, because of its connections, some stories could be true. Updated fortnightly. **** www.dilbert.com A must for all those who have to suffer office life, the Dilbert series is now considered a serious management tool. Sign up for daily cartoons. ****.

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