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The U.S. House of Representatives voted to withhold $244 million in United Nations dues if American did not regain its seat on the Human Rights Commission. “This is an affront,” sputtered Dick Armey, the House majority leader, “more to the whole notion of international human rights than it is to us as a nation.” Argentina recalled its ambassador to Cuba after Fidel Castro denounced the current Argentine government as “bootlickers of the Yankees.” Attorney General John Ashcroft delayed the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh after it was discovered that the F.B.I had failed to turn over 3,000 pages of interview reports to McVeigh’s lawyers. A 15-year-old boy in Savannah, Georgia, pled guilty to charges of conspiracy, bomb possession, and making terroristic threats. President George W. Bush asked Vice President Dick Cheney to figure out what to do about terrorism. A four-month-old Palestinian girl was killed by tank fire after Israeli forces shelled a crowded refugee camp in Gaza in what one Israeli general reportedly called an “exaggerated” response to a mortar attack. Two Jewish teenagers who skipped school and went for a hike in the West Bank were found dead in a cave, their heads crushed by rocks. Texas enacted a hate-crimes law previously killed by Governor George W. Bush. Richard Baumhammers, an immigration lawyer who ran amok last year and murdereda Jewish neighbor, two Asians, an Indian, and a black, was sentenced to death. A psychiatrist at the American Psychiatric Association convention announced that he was trying to come up with a scale of depravity to help courts judge the evil that men do.
Scientists at MIT’s Whitehead Institute found evidence that Europeans are descended from about 50 people who left Africa 60,000 years ago and inbred among themselves for 30 generations. A Germanresearcher found that tall men have more children than short men; they also have more wives, because they are more likely to get divorced and their second wives are likely to be younger. Alabama raised the legal marriage age to 16. A large bulge was detected in Oregon near the Three Sisters, a group of volcanoes in the Cascade mountains. The International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency were preparing to combat the inevitable challenge of genetically modified athletes. A performing rat was killed by a wayward curtain rod at a fashion show in Sydney, Australia; animal-rights groups were investigating the incident. Emmpak Foods Inc. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, recalled 254,000 pounds of hamburger because of possible E. coli contamination. An Austrian girl was attacked by a record-breaking 150 blood-sucking ticks and survived. The United NationsFood and AgricultureOrganization said that 550,000 tons of old, unused pesticides were threatening to poison food and water supplies worldwide. Three Japanese ships embarked on a two-month whale hunt, supposedly meant to determine whether Brydes, minke, and sperm whales are suffering from pollution.
Russia’s Polar Institute of Fish and Oceanography warned that over 200,000 baby seals were in danger of starving this spring in the White Sea. Environmentalists and fishermen asked the Food and Drug Administration to impose a moratorium on genetically modified fish. President George W. Bush said that free trade was “a moral imperative.” A psychiatrist at Columbia University announced a new study and claimed that “highly motivated” homosexuals can go straight. There were reports that President Bush’s nominee to run the Securities and Exchange Commission once worked for a pornography company that owns websites peddling “Teen Sex Videos” and “Live Nude Amateurs.”In Conroe, Texas, a justice of the peace ordered a boy to bend over, in court, to receive three swats. An enraged passenger attacked a tram driver in Amsterdam and bit off part of his finger. Almost 60 percent of the Army National Guard’s helicopters were grounded due to a shortage of spare parts. President Bush said that his big tax cut was the best way to deal with high energy costs. California was suffering from rolling blackouts. In Bismarck, North Dakota, police cited a seven-year-old boy for stealing $6 from his mom to buy a Beanie Baby. Perry Como died. The Buddha turned 2,545. Emperor Nero’s Domus Aurea was damaged by heavy rains.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Average portion of its yearly household expenditures that a South African family will spend on a funeral:
Neuroscientists were hoping to use rat brain waves to find people buried by earthquakes.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature