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WestJet Airlines offered passengers small "sleeper cabins" in its planes' overhead luggage bins yesterday, available for a modest extra charge of $12. Thing is, it wasn't exactly a genuine offer. It was an April Fool's joke.

"By offering our existing overhead bins as sleeper cabins, guests will now have the opportunity to lie down for a period of time and arrive at their destination refreshed, rested and ready to go," the airline said in a news release on its website that included a toll-free number for inquiries about the sleeper cabins.

A recorded message revealed the prank, but offered customers a 10-per-cent discount on flights booked before midnight. As of 2 p.m. yesterday, the Calgary-based airline had received 600 calls.

The WestJet joke was just one of many that appeared in newspapers and on websites around the world yesterday.

In Beirut, Lebanese newspapers offered their readers a brief moment of wishful thinking with an April Fool's message that the protracted political crisis was over and a new president had been elected. The country has been without a president since November, when pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud stepped down at the end of his mandate. Seventeen attempts to elect a successor have failed.

In Australia, Google announced a new feature that would allow computers to see into the future and provide headlines on share prices and sports results in advance.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s website revealed that residents of Sydney had smaller brains than their Melbourne counterparts because their grey matter was shrinking due to mortgage stress caused by high house prices.

In Britain, where the media thrive on such japery, The Daily Telegraph ran an item about BBC "footage" of a colony of penguins that flies thousands of kilometres to the rainforests of South America to sunbathe. (To see the video, go to and do a search on "penguins.")

The tabloid Sun, meanwhile, said diminutive French President Nicolas Sarkozy will be stretched five inches through pioneering surgery to help him see eye-to-eye with his supermodel wife, Carla Bruni. "Docs to Stretch Sarkozy," proclaimed its headline.

In the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton walked somberly into a news conference in Philadelphia yesterday and portentously announced: "We clearly need to do something so that our party and our people can make the right decision. So, I have a proposal."

As reporters tensed, she said: "Today, I am challenging Senator Obama to a bowl-off." Making reference to Barack Obama's disastrous outing at a Pennsylvania bowling alley on Saturday, she went on: "A bowling night. Right here in Pennsylvania. The winner take all. I'll even spot him two frames."

But the British weekly New Scientist took a different April Fool's tack by publishing stories on its website that seemed so bizarre that they could only be jokes, but were in fact genuine. One was about a study by pair of Italian physicists who came up with an explanation for poltergeists.

The scientists hypothesize that changes in the brain that occur in children at puberty involve fluctuations in electron activity that, in rare cases, can create disturbances up to a few metres around the outside of the brain "by channelling energy into the quantum mechanical vacuum" and making objects fly about.

The poltergeist paper will appear in the journal Neuroquantology.

When the magazine contacted Brian Josephson, a Nobel laureate physicist who is on the editorial board of Neuroquantology, he commented: "This looks distinctly flaky to me."

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