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After a heavy lobbying campaign by the electric industry, President George W. Bush broke a campaign promise and decided not to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, humiliating Christie Whitman, his EPA administrator, and effectively killing the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change. The President said that he was worried about an energy crisis and that he wasn’t entirely convinced that global warming was real. OPEC decided to cut production by 4 percent in order to keep oil prices high. North and South Korea exchanged mail for the first time since the Korean War. Apparently offended by President Bush’s comments last week about dear leader Kim Jong Il, North Korea cancelled peace talks with South Korea and denounced the United States as a “nation of cannibals.” South Korean scientists discovered over 100 endangered species thriving in the Demilitarized Zone along the border with North Korea. Russia said it would again sell arms to Iran, causing some Russians to wonder whether the weapons would end up in the hands of Islamicterrorists within their own borders. President Vladimir Putin was said to be off in Siberia hunting wolves. Iranian president Mohammad Khatami called for more democracy and freedom; within hours, Iranian security forces arrested forty pro-democracy activists. General Augusto Pinochet of Chile was released on bail pending his trial for accessory to murder and kidnapping. Chechen terrorists hijacked a Russian plane and flew it to Saudi Arabia, landing in the holy city of Medina. An American navy fighter jet dropped a 500-pound bomb on American troops in Kuwait, killing six. Khalid Abu Elba, the Palestinianbus driver who ran down and killed eight Israelis at a bus stop last month, testified in court. “I am not sorry,” he announced. Israel relaxed the blockade of the West Bank town of Ramallah, changing it, in the official jargon, from a “suffocating blockade” to a “breathing blockade.”
Stocks went down; President Bush said he was “concerned that a lot of Americans’ portfolios have been affected.” His daughter Jenna was photographed smoking a cigarette, apparently drunk. An appeals court upheld the Texas antisodomy law in a case involving two Houston men who were arrested for having sex in their own home. Scientists confirmed that people are able to repress unwanted memories. President Bush made the TV news when he bumped his head getting into Air Force One.California’sRepublican Party was trying to convince Arnold Schwarzenegger to run for governor.A man in Ghana was shot dead while testing a magic spell that was supposed to make him bulletproof; villagers severely beat their incompetent witch doctor.The Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy held its 28th annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.Democrats, who lately have been raising record amounts of soft money, were worried that campaign-finance reform might actually pass this year.President Vicente Fox of Mexico said that he would “eradicate torture forever,” even though it has been a standard part of Mexican justice for centuries, most recently with equipment purchased from the United States.Chinese prime minister Zhu Rongji apologized for the school explosion that killed 38 young children who were making fireworks.The head of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party was forced to resign after Internet journalists posing as arms dealers videotaped him accepting a bribe.England’s Princess Ann, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, pled guilty to driving 93 mph in a 70 mph zone last summer; the princess just kept driving after she saw the police car flashing its lights at her speeding Bentley, assuming, she said, that it was offering to escort her.
Forty-six thousand pounds of chicken blocked traffic on a Houston freeway after a truck turned over; the driver lost control while lighting a cigarette; dozens of drivers stuffed boxes of processed chicken products into their cars, ignoring warnings about contamination. Aventis CropScience reported that 430 million bushels of American corn are contaminated with StarLink, its genetically modified corn, which is unfit for human consumption, much more than the 70 million bushels previously reported. Coca-Cola’s chief executive officer told a British newspaper that he would not be happy until people can turn on their taps and get Coke instead of water. Epidemiologists think the current hoof-and-mouth epidemic in England may have started with contaminated swill fed to pigs in Heddon-on-the-Wall; leftover airline food from a country affected by the disease might have been in the swill. The United States banned imports of European animals and animal products. Burger King recalled 400,000 Rattling, Paddling Riverboat toys after they were determined to be a choking hazard; McDonald’s recalled 234,000 toys last week for the same reason. Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban sacrificed 100 cows to atone for being so slow to destroy ancient stone statues of the Buddha. The bones of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the former president of the American Atheists, were identified, as were those of her son and granddaughter. The bones were found on a ranch in Texas; the bodies were burned, their legs removed, and stacked in a shallow grave. A Russian urologist successfully reconstituted a coffin maker’s penis after it was cut into six pieces by a circular saw. Two fertilityscientists based in the United States announced that they expected to grow the first human clone within two years. Seven-year-old Regan Muse convinced her father, a state representative from Maine, to introduce legislation banning elephants from circuses. A North Dakota man was convicted of “contact by bodily fluids” and sentenced to five years in prison for urinating on a deputy sheriff’s leg. Scientists were testing the use of LSD and other hallucinogens to treat mental illness. A man in Beverly, Massachusetts, was arrested for threatening to kill his girlfriend with a homemade bazooka that shoots potatoes.
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.”