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Thousands of Chinese who worked as slaves for Japan in World War II filed suit in California against Japanese companies that might have profited from their servitude; Japanese military occupiers enslaved over ten million Chinese on the mainland and some 50,000 in Japan.Hundreds of members of the Falun Gong, a banned Chinese meditation cult with mildly apocalyptic doctrines, were beaten and arrested in Tiananmen Square.Turkey’sparliament considered loosening restrictions on free speech as well as the summary dismissal of thousands of Islamic civil servants; General Huseyin Kivrikoglu, who fancies himself to be the guardian of the secular Turkish state, suggested the purge.The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights released a report detailing abuses of immigrants by United States Immigration and Naturalization Service inspectors, who often mistreat and turn away legitimate foreign visitors, legal residents, and refugees with credible asylum claims.The United States government threatened to file suit against the City of New York for the police department’s use of racial profiling; Mayor Rudolph Giuliani defended the practice, saying that most crimes are committed by minorities.Britain’s new Human Rights Act went into effect; conservatives were concerned that the new “bill of rights” would permit gay sex in the schools.
A federal judge ordered that the Animal Welfare Act be extended to protect birds, mice, and rats used in research laboratories; vivisectionists expressed concern that the progress of science might be impeded.It was revealed that Britain was again experimenting with genetically modified crops, though the agriculture ministry had repeatedly denied it was doing so.New York’s state assembly was considering a five-year ban on such crops.A baby was born who was bred in a test tube and genetically selected to be compatible with his sister, who received a stem-cell transplant that might save her from leukemia.Canadianresearchers discovered that many common herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides used on fruit and vegetables encourage the growth of dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, and shigella.DNA tests identified the Hungarian WWII prisoner of war who spent 53 years in a Russian mental hospital.A British woman was awarded Ł345,222 for being wrongfully diagnosed with cancer, which resulted in fourteen operations, including a double mastectomy and a full hysterectomy.Red tide rendered much of the Texas coast unfishable.The Nuclear Regulatory Commission declared that a plan by the Goshutes tribe to establish a nuclear-waste dump on their reservation (45 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah) was safe; the dump, which could hold up to 44,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel, will be located at Skull Valley.
The Mid-East peace process continued as Israeli soldiers killed 84 Palestinians, including over a dozen children, in violence that followed a visit to the Dome of the Rock by Likud leader Ariel Sharon; two Israeli soldiers and two settlers were killed in the fighting.Hillary Clinton, alarmed by the violence in Palestine, decided that she had made a mistake after all when she attended a ceremony on the West Bank with Yasir Arafat’s wife, Suha, and embraced her; Mrs.Clinton also called for the release of classified materials concerning Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of spying on the U.S. for Israel.Neo-Nazis firebombed a synagogue in Düsseldorf, Germany, on the anniversary of German reunification; last year 817 anti-Semitic crimes were reported in Germany.Slobodan Milosevic abdicated after police joined massive demonstrations that successfully overran government buildings; a four-year-old boy who broke away from his father was the first to ascend the steps of the parliament building in Belgrade; later, adult protesters urinated on the floor of the parliament’s main chamber.Scandal, a perfume shop owned by Marko Milosevic, Slobodan’s son, was destroyed.Hippies threw smoke bombs at police in Amsterdam outside a conference attended by the president of the World Bank.Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin published a memoir in which he admitted to drinking too much and to having planned in 1996 the abolition of Russian democracy. Fungus was devouring Russia’s Mir space station.Ethiopia said it would rebury Emperor Haile Selassie, who originally was buried beneath a toilet in 1975.An African who in 1888 was snatched from his grave, stuffed, and put on display in Spain was returned home for a decent burial.A New York judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought to prevent New York University from demolishing a former home of Edgar Allen Poe.Silver Dollar City, Inc., the company that owns Dollywood, the Dolly Parton theme park, announced it would open a Southern theme park in Stone Mountain, Georgia, the birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan; the company plans to emphasize the fun side of Southern history.
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