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Peru’s dictator Alberto Fujimori stopped in Japan on his way to an economic summit, decided he liked it there, and quit his job, via fax; Peruvians were generally pleased with the development, and within days Fujimori was named in a corruption investigation.Slobodan Milosevic was reelected president of the Socialist Party of Serbia.Madeleine Albright asked to meet with Serbia’s new president, Vojislav Kostunica, at a meeting in Vienna; she was snubbed.Jean-Bertrand Aristide (promising “Peace in the Head. Peace in the Belly.”) was reelected president of Haiti in an election boycotted by major opposition parties, who said it was rigged.The United Stateselection continued in Florida: “Pregnancy doesn’t count in chads in Palm Beach,” one lawyer told a Palm Beach judge. “Only penetration counts in Palm Beach.”Al Gore’s chest was described in the New York Times as an “attractive pectoral mass.” Dick Cheney had an itsy-bitsy heart attack, which was described by his doctors as “the smallest possible heart attack that a person could have that could still be classified as a heart attack”; one of his coronary arteries was “about 90 to 95 percent blocked.”George W. Bush announced Cheney did not in fact have a heart attack.China promised to stop selling missile technology to companies trying to develop nuclear weapons and also to obey the rule of law.Chile’s former dictator General Augusto Pinochet took responsibility for the crimes committed by his regime: “As an ex-president, I accept responsibility for all the deeds that the army and armed forces are said to have committed,” he said in a videotaped message played at a celebration of his eighty-fifth birthday.Terrorists bombed a schoolbus filled with children of Israeli settlers; two adults were killed and several children were dismembered.Israelidefense forces responded with bombs of their own, killing several adults and dismembering at least one child.A car bomb went off in the Israeli coastal city of Hadera, killing two; Prime Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel would “get even.” There were more killings.Germany was busy deporting Albanians from Kosovo who had overstayed their welcome, though the word deportieren, with its Nazi connotations, was avoided carefully; Abschiebung, sending away, was preferred.Queen Elizabeth II was photographed wringing the neck of a wounded pheasant which a huntingdog had dropped at her feet; Britishanimal-rights types were appalled. At church the next day, the Queen wore a red hat accented with pheasant feathers.
The Vatican denounced homosexuality as “a conception of love detached from any responsibility.”Researchers at Harvard Medical School claimed that 44.3 percent of cigarettes smoked in America are smoked by the mentally ill, who make up, they said, 28.3 percent of Americans.Florida’s supreme court reinstated a $750,000 award to an ex-smoker; a lower court had said Brown & Williamson did not have to pay.Workers rioted in New Delhi to protest a decision by India’s supreme court ordering the closure of 90,000 small factories that pollute air and water and sicken the populace.A federal judge told Quadrtech Corporation that it could not escape to Mexico to avoid the Communications Workers of America, which the company said it would do one day after the union was certified to represent Quadrtech’s workers, who are largely female and Mexican and who assemble cheap jewelry for a minimum wage.Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, urged his employees to reject the unionization efforts of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, a branch of the Communications Workers of America; “Everyone in this company is an owner,” he said, though not every owner makes $7 to $9.50 an hour.The FBI’s packet-sniffing computer, Carnivore, can indeed capture and archive all the email that passes through an internet service provider’s servers, according to a new report.Teachers in Chicago were issuing report cards judging the quality of the parenting received by schoolchildren.American educators were debating whether to eliminate dodge ball from the physical education curriculum; critics charged that a game involving “human targets” was inappropriate in a modern school.After a court rejected plans to build a new cemetery in the French town of Le Lavandou (the old one was full), Mayor Gil Bernadi made it a crime to die.Starbucks Coffee opened a store in China’s Forbidden City, right next to the Palace of Heavenly Purity.
Hippies stormed the climate-treaty talks at the Hague; one managed to hit an American negotiator in the face with a cream pie.Themeeting ended without an agreement after the United States, thelargest producer of greenhouse gases, insisted on getting extra creditfor the anti-greenhouse effect of its forests.Aventis Corporation,which recently got into trouble over its StarLink genetically modifiedcorn, announced that the unapproved StarLink protein Cry9c had shownup in non-genetically modified corn that will soon reach the nation’sfood supply. The company had no explanation for how the protein, whichis the result of genetic engineering, made its way into normal corn;biologists pointed out that it was probably the result of naturalhybridization between GM and non-GM corn planted too close together.A group of scientists announced that they had constructed a nano-machinedriven by a propeller: “This opens the door to make machines thatlive inside the cell,” Cornell University’s Dr. Carlo Montemagnotold reporters. “It allows us to merge engineered devices intoliving systems.”Spain discovered its first case of mad cowdisease, as did Germany.France was trying to figure out what to dowith 500,000 tons of meal contaminated with animals parts that can nolonger be fed to livestock for fear of spreading mad cow disease; themillion tons of animal parts produced each year by the French meatindustry will have to be disposed of as well.Rodin Rasoloarison ofthe University of Antananarivo in Madagascar discovered three newspecies of mouse lemur.More than a billion people lack a basic supplyof clean water, the United Nations reported; it would cost just $10billion a year to provide them with water and sanitation, which isabout what Europe spends each year on ice cream.The people of Tongasold their genes to an Australian biotechnology company.A newbornbaby boy with six fingers on each hand was kidnapped from a Detroithospital.Mount Everest was shrinking.
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 California’s 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 “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — 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 “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” 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 “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby 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.”