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The Motion Picture Association of America succeeded in convincing a federal judge in Manhattan that publishing or linking to a free computer program that allows people to play DVDs on their Linux computers will lead to widespread copying of DVDs; the judge rejected arguments that computer source code, or links pointing to such code, is expressive speech and is thus protected under the First Amendment. Ole Miss won the right to prevent spectators from waving the Confederate battle flag at sporting events. Bill Clinton signed the T-shirt of a woman who then stripped it off and waved it over her head; she was immediately handcuffed and held for questioning by police. Richard Ray, Kenneth Starr’s successor as independent counsel, has convened a new grand jury to determine whether President Clinton should be prosecuted; a Chicago judge admitted that he accidentally leaked the existence of the grand jury to a reporter, who published the story a few hours before Al Gore accepted the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party and announced that he was his own man. The United StatesFood and Drug Administration issued a “draft guidance” concerning a proposal to blacklist foreign companies that import defective condoms; the report said that “continuous monitoring of these devices is needed.” Democratic Representative Loretta Sanchez cancelled a Playboy Mansion fundraiser after Al Gore objected to it. A British group was offering free vasectomies for Frenchmen. Newt Gingrich married a former aid, Callista Bisek, in Alexandria, Virginia; it was the former House Speaker’s third marriage. Two men disguised as Goofy and the Grinch were being sought in New York for armed robbery. Hasbro, Inc., the toy manufacturer, announced a recall of 420,000 Busy Poppin’ Pals due to small springs that can break loose and choke young children. Al Gore’s son was arrested in North Carolina for driving 97 miles-per-hour. Tillie Tooter, an eighty-three-year-old woman whose car crashed off an interstate highway bridge, survived on rainwater while trapped in her car for three days.
American and British planes bombed Iraq. The Congressional Research Service reported that the U.S. was still the world’s largest arms dealer, having sold $11.8 billion in weapons in 1999. German far-right hate groups are moving their websites to servers in the United States. An FBI agent admitted that he had given false testimony in a bail hearing for Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos scientist who has been held without bail for nine months for mishandling nuclear secrets; civil rights groups argue that Lee was singled out for prosecution because of his Chinese ancestry. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was sworn in for a second term. Members of the Democratic Party’s liberal base were known to be grumbling at their party’s centrist platform. Police fired tear gas, pepper spray, beanbags, and rubber bullets into a crowd of protesters after a Rage Against the Machine concert outside the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. According to one report, the police were tired and wanted to go home but hippies and anarchists refused to leave. Democrats received higher overall Nielsen ratings for their convention than did Republicans; journalists noted that ratings were higher in 1996. Six people tried to sell their votes on Ebay. An eight-year-old girl who had spent two nights shackled to the front seat of her abductor’s car managed to get loose and run away; she then flagged down a passing truck and dove through the window into the driver’s lap. Kashmir’s chief minister Farooq Abdullah gave a loud, rousing speech on India’sIndependence Day to an empty sports arena in Srinagar; the deputy inspector of the state police said that people stayed away because they were afraid to die. After 34 years, Turkey was the 131st country to sign a pair of U.N. convenants guaranteeing social and political rights to minorities. Kurds, who still suffer harassment, torture, and political killings in Turkey, were unable to respond officially in their own language.
Russia’s Orthodox Church rejected genetic engineering, homosexuality, euthanasia, and abortion while reaffirming private property and the church’s close ties to the Russian military. Czar Nicholas II and his family were made saints for the “humbleness, patience, and meekness” they displayed when they were murdered by Bolsheviks in 1918. After it became clear that the 118 Russian sailors aboard the sunken Mursk submarine were probably dead, President Vladimir V. Putin ordered his generals to accept offers of help from other countries. Scientists successfully transformed human bone marrow cells into nerve cells. Researchers discovered that the Nipah virus, which killed 100 people last year in Singapore, originally came from fruit bats; the virus, a cousin to Ebola and HIV, is also carried by pigs, a million of which were destroyed last year. After an outbreak of swine fever in Britain, the United States and other countries banned the importation of porcine semen and other pork products; a National Pig Association spokesman said that pig farmers were “at their wits’ end.” Governor George W. Bush agreed to pardon death-row inmate Roy Criner after new DNA tests proved that he was innocent; Ricky Nolan McGinn, a Texas inmate who was convicted of raping and murdering his twelve-year-old stepdaughter, failed his DNA test after receiving a stay of execution and will return to death row. Senator John McCain had two malignant melanomas removed. A judge hostile to President Clinton was removed from Linda Tripp’s lawsuit against the government; a computer randomly assigned the case to a Clinton appointee, who happened to be one of the three judges who decided to reassign the case. Canadian Micmac Indians blocked a highway with bonfires near Burnt Church, New Brunswick, in a dispute with the government over lobster fishing rights. Negotiations continued with Veerappan, the South Asian bandit, concerning the release of Rajkumar, an actor who is worshipped by many in India as a minor god; Veerappan has demanded political concessions on behalf of India’s Tamil minority. Colombian troops attacked and killed a group of eight- to ten-year-old children who were on a school hike. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Cretien was hit in the face with a pie. The ice cap that covered the Arctic Ocean at the North Pole for 50 million years melted. Japanese were committing suicide in record numbers.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Discussed in this essay:
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.
The extinction symbol is a spare graphic that began to appear on London walls and sidewalks a couple of years ago. It has since become popular enough as an emblem of protest that people display it at environmental rallies. Others tattoo it on their arms. The symbol consists of two triangles inscribed within a circle, like so:
â€śThe triangles represent an hourglass; the circle represents Earth; the symbol as a whole represents, according to a popular Twitter feed devoted to its dissemination (@extinctsymbol, 19.2K followers), â€śthe rapidly accelerating collapse of global biodiversityâ€ťÂ â€” what scientists refer to alternately as the Holocene extinction, the Anthropocene extinction, and (with somewhat more circumspection) the sixth mass extinction.
Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:
Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.
Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.
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Scienceâ€™s crisis of faith