A spoof edition of The New York Times

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(Fake) New York Times reports end to Iraq war

NEW YORK (AFP) — The United States has ended the war in Iraq and indicted President George W. Bush on treason charges, The New York Times reported Tuesday. OK, well not really.

An elaborate spoof hit the streets of New York on Tuesday: a convincing fake of The New York Times announcing not just the withdrawal of troops from Iraq but a raft of other US liberal fantasies.

Bush is indicted, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice apologizes that the fuss about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was invented, and Americans are finally getting national health insurance.

And that's just on the front page.

The only problem? The free, 14-page "special edition" newspaper -- and its equally realistic looking "New York Times" website -- are phoney.

Website www.gawker.com has identified the pranksters behind the stunt as The Yes men, a liberal group famous for practical jokes.

The newspaper was a vision of what Democratic Americans would love to see under Barack Obama after he takes power in January.

Dated July 4, 2009, its front-page motto reads: "All the news we hope to print" -- a play on the Times' famous "All the news that's fit to print."

According to gawker.com, The Yes Men arranged a lightning operation where volunteers distributed the fake Times early Wednesday and also organized so-called viral emails to spread the word.

In a secret email sent from organizers, volunteers were only instructed ahead of time that "something cool!" will happen, reported gawker.com.

"You'll receive materials and instructions when you arrive. NOTE: YOU DON'T KNOW WHO DID THIS. We want to maintain maximum mystery around this, for as long as possible," the secret mail read.

A Times spokeswoman said: "This is obviously a fake issue ... We are in the process of finding out more about it."

One of the newspaper's own online commentators had a wittier retort:

"Sorry, folks, the paper isn't free. And the Iraq war isn't over, at least not yet."