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The United States decided not to sign a new anti-germ-warfare treaty, bringing to at least five the number of international agreements the U.S. has rejected in recent years, including the Kyoto Protocol, the Landmine Convention, the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. President George W. Bush and Russian president Vladimir Putin agreed to work toward a disarmament framework that would reduce nuclear weapons while allowing the U.S. its missile-defense scheme; a few days before their discussion, Putin remarked that Bush was “a fairly good-hearted person, nice to talk to, I would even say . . . even a little bit sentimental.” Secretary of State Colin Powell played a cowboy in love for a skit marking the end of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations conference; his Vietnamese paramour was portrayed by Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka. Former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid finally ended his occupation of the presidential palace nearly a week after his impeachment. In his last press interview before flying to the U.S. Wahid predicted dark times ahead for Indonesia but ended with a joke about the difference between American and Japanesefarmers. Scientists reported that the human brain responds differently to faces of different races; African Americans were found to recognize all races rather easily, but whites generally had a hard time recognizing any but white faces. The Serbian government confirmed that three blindfolded bodies found in a mass grave were those of Albanian-American brothers sentenced to fifteen days’ imprisonment for entering Yugoslavia without visas. The playwright Harold Pinter joined the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, saying the former Yugoslav leader’s detention at The Hague is illegal. Seventeen Brazilians broke out of prison using a cardboard gun. A watermelon rigged with a bomb inside was left on an Israelibus; the fruit was detonated safely.
One of the world’s largest paintings, by French fauvist Raoul Dufy, was found to be coated in cancer-causing asbestos; the Paris Museum of Modern Art will spend a million dollars scraping it off. A report funded by Philip Morris to dissuade the Czech Republic from raising cigarette taxes was made public. The study helpfully pointed out that the country saves hundreds of millions of dollars in housing, health care, and pensions for former smokers who no longer require such services, because they’re dead. Blood-sucking bedbugs, “the new scourge of America,” were said to be thriving in luxury hotels. Katherine Harris, Florida’s Secretary of State, decided to run for Congress. A Britishstudy found that 80 percent of women fake orgasms during intercourse. Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s Dear Leader, while on a train to Moscow to meet with President Putin, promised that his country won’t shoot missiles at the United States. Three Frenchmen, carrying five grams of uranium-235, were arrested for trafficking in nuclear material. The largest teachers union in the U.S. decided to offer $150,000 homicide insurance policies to the families of teachers killed on the job. Authorities in Kashmir banned the use of the word “widow” in official records, claiming that the term only deepens the women’s depression. Five million Afghans, one fifth of the country’s population, were reported to have little or no access to food due to drought and civil war. A woman filed a $100,000 suit against the makers of Pop Tarts after a tart ignited and caused a fire in her home. Norwegians were preparing to sell millions of tons of edible whale blubber to Japan. Queen Elizabeth’s husband told a 13-year-old boy he was too fat to be an astronaut. A survey found that children today are more spoiled than they used to be. Japanesescientists invented a bionic suit to help nurses lift patients. Three genetically modified pigs stolen from a U.S. university were made into sausage by an unsuspecting butcher.
Pope John Paul II advised President Bush that the use of stem cells for research is an evil akin to infanticide; Bush reassured the pope that he would think long and hard about his own opinion: “My process has been, frankly, unusually deliberative for my administration.” A German court ruled a Hamburg citizen incapable of managing his affairs after he tipped a waiter $11,000 for a cup of coffee; the court impounded the tip. The House voted to reject Bush’s recommendations for increased arsenic in drinking water, returning instead to levels established under President Clinton. New Zealand officials dropped 120 tons of rat poison on Campbell Island. A nanny was fined $50 by a New York Citypolice officer after her three-year-old ward peed on a tree. Hot lava spilled through the streets of Sicily. Earth Wind & Fire was launching a new tour sponsored by Viagra. Researchers found that female cockroaches become much less choosy about their mates as they get older. A 511-million-year-old crab was found in England. A 15-year-old Boy Scout in Utah ripped out dinosaur tracks, believed to be 200 million years old, and tossed them into a reservoir. A pair of seagulls in London were terrorizing bald people.
More from Elizabeth Giddens:
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:
After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”