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President Bill Clinton, on his last day in office, made a deal with independent counsel Robert Ray to avoid indictment for lying under oath, which concluded the $60 million Whitewater investigation and gave Bill Clinton banner headlines on the day of George W. Bush’s inauguration.President Clinton pardoned 140 criminals, including Patty Hearst, a revolutionary; his brother Roger, who had a fondness for cocaine; and former CIA director John Deutch, who found it difficult to leave classified information in the George Bush Center for Intelligence.Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, wearing his tacky Gilbert and Sullivan-inspired gold-striped robe, which he himself designed, swore in George W. Bush, whom he himself appointed president of the United States.At an inaugural party, before the stony gaze of Abraham Lincoln, Mr. Bush got up on stage and danced with Ricky Martin.Mrs. Bush said that she did not believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned.Former senator John Ashcroft, who was defeated by a dead man in the last election, promised in his confirmation hearings to enforce the law, even laws with which heâ??as a right-wing, Christian, pro-life nutâ??disagreed.Janet Ashcroft announced that she had once been “attacked by a rapist” and that “John’s response to me was absolutely perfect, which amazed me.” A woman in Wisconsin was facing up to fifteen years in prison and a $10,000 fine for failing to prevent her thirteen-year-old son from having sex with his fifteen-year-old girlfriend.Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, Secretary-designate of Health and Human Services, said that he would consider restricting access to the abortion pill, RU-486.Judge Roy Moore was named chief justice of Alabama; Moore has insisted on diplaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and will continue to do so: “God’s law,” he proclaimed, “will be publicly acknowledged in our court.”
An Islamic court in Nigeria carried out the public flogging of a teenage girl who was forced to have sex with three men; after receiving her 100 lashes, Bariya Ibrahim Magazu, who gave birth to a daughter last month, thanked Allah for her punishment and walked home to her village.Congo’s President Laurent Kabila was assassinated by one of his bodyguards; Congolese, who recently had taken to exposing their bellies as Kabila drove by, to signify their hunger, evidently were unfazed by the news.Kabila’s son, who speaks neither French nor the local language, was named successor; he was thought to be a figurehead for a power structure that had yet to emerge.Norway announced the end of its ban on exporting whale products.Great Britain’sHouse of Commonsvoted to outlaw fox hunting; one prominent fox hunter was heard to say: “I will break Blair’slaw.I will pay no fines and I will go to prison.I will be Blair’s political prisoner.” The British post office changed its name to Consignia. London officials cancelled the license of the pigeon-food vendor in Trafalgar Square as part of a new war on bird droppings. After animal-rights groups expressed concern over the starvation of the birds, it was announced that the square’s 3,000 pigeons would be fed for another month.Kimberly-Clarke introduced a brand of pre-moistened toilet paper, otherwise known as baby-wipes, targeted at the 25 percent of American adults who the company claims already wipe themselves with wet toilet paper.Kim Jung Il, the dear leader of North Korea, made a surprise visit to China, where he toured the Shanghai Stock Exchange and a Buick plant.China received $28 million in reparations from the United States for the 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.Swiss researchers found traces of uranium 236, which comes from nuclear fuel and nuclear waste, in samples of American-made depleted uranium found in Kosovo, raising concerns that the weapons debris might contain contaminants that are even more dangerous, such as plutonium and americium.NATO again said there was nothing to worry about.President Clinton ordered the Pentagon to review a study which found that residents of a small Puerto Rican island where the Navy conducts bombing tests have a high rate of a rare heart condition caused by loud noises.Iraq announced the donation of 100 million euros to help the poor people of America.
South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges was upset that prison inmates, including child-killer Susan Smith, who were supposed to be doing chores at his home were instead having sex there; the prisoners assured investigators that they did not have sex while Hodges’ children were at home.Federal officials were considering a closed-circuit telecast of the execution of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, on May 16.A sixteen-year-old Montreal hacker called Mafiaboy pled guilty to charges stemming from a series of major attacks on commercial websites last year; the FBI claimed Mafiaboy caused $1.7 billion in damages.Investigators raided a Marine unit in North Carolina after they received a tip that the unit was falsifying maintenance records on the experimental Osprey airplane to help ensure its approval by the Pentagon.Ospreys have crashed four times since 1991; nineteen marines died in the most recent crash.A small earthquake was detected in New York City.California was forced to impose blackouts for the first time since World War II; George W. Bush said that he was opposed to price caps on wholesale power and suggested that California simply relax its environmental regulations and allow power companies to go full tilt. He recently gave the following analysis: “The California crunch really is the result of not enough power-generating plants and then not enough power to power the power of generating plants.” Much of California’s electricity is produced by plants in Texas.Several people in the Alaskan village of Manokotak apparently were infected with botulism after eating fermented beaver tails and feet, a traditional delicacy made by burying the beaver parts and letting them rot.Mount Fuji was rumbling; Japanese officials were reluctant to draw up an evacuation map of the area for fear of hurting the touristtrade. Chinese were paying top dollar for lucky cell-phone numbers.Italy discovered its first mad cow.Starving Nigerians were stealing grain from anthills.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Chances that a Soviet woman’s first pregnancy will end in abortion:
Peaceful fungus-farming ants are sometimes protected against nomadic raider ants by sedentary invader ants.
In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighborâ€™s home.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of oneâ€™s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many timesâ€”in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."