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American newspapers and other content providers were still ignoring growing evidence, reported in the British press, of George W. Bush’s electoral coup, including new evidence that thousands of black Floridians were improperly removed from the list of approved voters. Bill Clinton’s corrupt pardons continued to dominate the news; Senator Hillary Clinton chastised her portly brother for exercising “terrible misjudgment” when he accepted $400,000 to help a coke dealer and another felon obtain pardons from his brother-in-law. Federal authorities in New York were investigating whether the pardon of four Hasidic Jews convicted of fraud was granted in exchange for votes. Roger Clinton, who lobbied his brother for pardons but was turned down, was arrested for drunk driving. The FBI arrested a Russian spy, one of its own senior counterintelligence agents. A fourteen-year-old boy in Marion, Ohio, was arrested for sending the following email to President Bush: “im looking for you and im going to kill you wen i get you i do not like you i kill you.” President Bush went to Crawford, Texas, for a visit and attended a party in his honor for about fifteen minutes, where he made a few brief remarks: “Home is important,” he said. “It’s important to have a home.” The President announced that among government agencies the Department of Education would receive the largest budget increase. Most of the “smart” bombs dropped on Iraq last week missed their targets, the Pentagon admitted. Astronomers discovered a new brown dwarf with extremely powerful storms on its surface. Former president George Bush was in Kuwait for the tenth anniversary of the Gulf War. Twenty-nine people were killed in post-election violence in Yemen; opposition parties called for new elections because of widespread irregularities.
An unknown quantity of a radioactive substance was dumped into the New York City sewer system. A team of Japaneseresearchers think that Earth will be as dry as Mars in about a billion years, because 1.12 billion tons of water leaks down into the earth’s mantle each year. The icecap on top of Mount Kilimanjaro was melting. Britain banned all exports of live animals, milk, and meat, after foot and mouth disease was discovered among some pigs and cattle; Britons were asked to stay away from the countryside; Ireland stationed extra troops along its border to keep out wayward British cows. Italy confirmed its third case of mad cow disease and ordered an autopsy of a fifty-seven-year-old man who had displayed symptoms of Creutzfelt-Jakob disease. Sweden continued to insist on the purity of its herds, though there were reports of a mad cow there. Scientists working for PPL Theraputics transformed cattle cells into stem cells, which were then persuaded to become human heart tissue. Researchers at Du Pont cloned a gene that will allow plants to produce plastic. The people of Qurnet Shahwan, a village in Lebanon, made it into the Guinness Book of Records after assembling the world’s largest bowl of tabbouleh, which weighed 3,337 pounds. Russia’s chief veterinarian was blaming the outbreak of mad cow disease on the Jews.
In Indonesia, Dayak headhunters were killing hundreds of Madurese migrants on the island of Borneo, where Madurese have settled recently as part of a program to reduce overcrowding. Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister who lost the recent election to Ariel Sharon, a known war criminal, resigned from politics, then agreed to be Sharon’s defense minister in a government of national unity, then resigned from politics again. Israelisecurity forces assassinated a leader of the militant Hamas movement. Okinawa City’s assembly demanded a curfew for American troops stationed there after a series of sexual attacks by soldiers. A war-crimes tribunal convicted three Serbs of sexually enslaving Muslim girls and women during the Bosnian war. Nine hundred and eight Iraqi Kurds, including 300 children, were abandoned by smugglers in a freighter off the French Riviera after the boat ran aground; the Kurds made it safely to shore and were taken into custody by immigration officials. Pat Robertson was worried that cults such as the Moonies, Scientologists, and Hare Krishnas might obtain government funding under President Bush’s plan to give money to religious organizations. Hare Krishnas have been receiving government funding for their social programs for about twenty years. Workers were scrubbing the streets of Beijing and festooning the city with fake flowers, hoping to make a good impression on Olympic officials. Subcommander Marcos and twenty-three other Zapatista fighters were traveling to Mexico City in a bus convoy as federal police cars and cheering crowds lined the Panamerican Highway. A postcard mailed in Australia on January 4, 1889, finally made it to Aberdeen, Scotland. Balthus died. Greece’s
More from Roger D. Hodge:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
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 naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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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.”