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A Concorde airplane crashed in Paris; two amateur Hungarian photographers snapped a picture of the doomed plane with flames shooting from its engines, which were manufactured by Rolls Royce, just before it destroyed a small hotel near the airport. Investigators soon narrowed their suspicions to a fuel leak, saying that previously detected cracks in another Concorde were unrelated. Atmospheric scientists discovered that some 4,000 tons of a new synthetic greenhouse gas have been released into the atmosphere; the gas, which takes 1,000 years to degrade, may be a by-product of weapons production. A Russian spacecraft docked with the International Space Station above Kazakhstan. Geologists revealed that a rock that crashed through the windshield of a parked car in Clayton, Wis., in 1996 was a 4.56 billion-year-old meteorite that fell directly from outer space. NASA announced that it would send a new unmanned rover to Mars in 2003; recent evidence suggests that water once was present on the planet’s surface. A sixteen-year-old supermarket worker in New York City died when he was crushed by a cardboard-box compactor. A twenty-two-year-old man with a gun walked onto a National Airlines Boeing 757 at Kennedy Airport in New York and demanded that the pilot fly him to Antarctica. Spain has laid claim to the remains of its armada of sunken warships, which lie scattered throughout its former empire, laden with untold riches. Japan will resume hunting for sperm and Bryde’s whales, purportedly to study the diet and ecology of the rare species. Luciano Pavarrotti agreed to pay the Italian government over $12 million in back taxes.
President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela was reelected in what he called a “mega-election“; Chavez vowed to complete his peaceful social revolution against Venezuela’s “rancid oligarchy” by “liquidating our adversaries from the field of battle.” Classes resumed in Myanmar, almost four years after SLORC, the country’s military junta, banned higher education. Chile’s supreme court refused to allow tests of General Augusto Pinochet’s mental competency, thus clearing the way for a trial. Former Indonesian president Suharto’s lawyers claimed that he was too brain damaged to be tried on corruption charges. Pro-Indonesian militia members killed and mutilated a UN peacekeeper in East Timor. Over fifty multinational corporations, many of whom have been criticized for using sweatshop and childlabor in poor countries, signed a global compact to end the use of sweatshop and child labor in poor countries. A British Health Department bulletin revealed that fourteen Britons have died of mad cow disease so far this year; scientists have said that 500,000 people could die of the disease by 2030. Roman and Inna Flikshtein, a Russian couple living in Brooklyn, said they would not give up Cookie, their pet diana monkey, an endangered species, which the New York state attorney general says should be in a zoo. A family of Vermontsheepfarmers vowed to prevent the government from slaughtering their flock of Belgian dairy sheep; four sheep descended from the flock tested positive for an ovine form of mad cow disease; “this is just like trying to take Elian Gonzalez all over again,” one neighbor said. Zimbabwe’s state television station reported that President Mugabe has decided to seize 3,000 farms as part of a land redistribution program. A special federal review panel led by Senator John Danforth cleared the U.S. Justice Department of any “bad acts” in the Waco disaster.
Republican Presidential Candidate George W. Bush chose Dick Cheney, his father’s secretary of defense during the Gulf War, to be his running mate. Reform Party leaders voted to remove right-wing columnist Pat Buchanan from the presidential ballot; Buchanan said the vote was “of no consequence.” George W. Bush killed an attempt to make the Republican primary more democratic using what he called “an iron fist rule” to keep divisive politics off the stage at the Republican National Convention. The House of Representatives voted unanimously to ban the execution of pregnant women in response to remarks by Vice President Al Gore that a “the principle of a woman’s right to choose governs in that case.” British Columbia asked the Canadian supreme court to affirm the validity of gay marriage. In Afghanistan, poppies were banned by the Taliban. The Pentagon mounted an arms show in Philadelphia for the Republican National Convention that will cost at least $100,000. Speaker of the House Dennis J. Hastert took several members of the Republican party’s “Regents,” some 100 campaign contributors who have given $250,000 apiece to the party since January 1999, on a fishing trip. The Defense Department proposed a new debit-card program for low-income troops who qualify for food stamps. The Republican Platform committee defeated attempts to moderate the party’s anti-abortion stance. An American soldier pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of a Kosovo Albanian girl. Scientists discovered that extreme pain suffered by infants, who once routinely underwent surgery without anesthesia, may have long-term neurological effects. A plague of grasshoppers was destroying crops in much of Texas.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in Californiaâs ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as âinvasive,â âexotic,â âalienâ â all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as âindigenously Californianâ elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a âhome without its mother.â Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the âworldâs biggest selfies,â and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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âShelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.â