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Forensic experts in Honduras found a mass grave containing 15 bodies on a former American military base used to train Nicaraguan Contras; prosecutors expect to find up to 80 dead leftists who disappeared during the 1980s. John Negroponte, who was the American ambassador to Honduras during the Contra war, was awaiting confirmation as the new U.S. representative at the United Nations. Slobodan Milosevic berated a judge and others at The Hague after genocide was added to the charges he faces there. An Israelideath squad using American-made weaponsassassinated Mustafa Zubari, also known as Abu Ali Mustafa, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. American officials pointed out that such extrajudicial killings tend only to inspire suicide bombers. Gideon Ezra, Israel’s deputy minister for internal security, had a bright new idea for fightingterrorism: kill the families of people who kill Israelis. Secretary of State Colin Powell stayed away from the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance because some countries were insisting on using impolite language to criticize Israel for being an unkind master. France’s foreign minister compared President Bush to Pontius Pilate. A bomb went off in Galilee.
Faith in the “New Economy” unshaken, Federal Reserve bureaucrats gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for their annual symposium and told one another that the productivity miracle wrought by computer technology would rise again someday and provide strong economic growth with low inflation. Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina told a newspaper that Senator Strom Thurmond, his 98-year-old colleague, is no longer “mentally keen” but stays in the Senate because “the poor fellow doesn’t have any place to go.” Hollings also remarked that the Senate makes an excellent nursing home. Historians in Britain brewed a 5,000-year-old recipe for beer flavored with animal feces. Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton placed America’s oldest sanitary landfill on the National Register of Historic Places, right along with Walden Pond and Monticello, before noticing that the Fresno, California, dump was a federal Superfund site, whereupon it was stripped of its historic status. Louis W. Joy III, the owner of Manufacturing Excellence, Inc., crashed a small plane into his new home in Nashua, New Hampshire, destroying it and himself, one day after his wife obtained a restraining order barring him from the house. Mrs. Joy happened to be out at the time. Federal authorities accredited the Astrology Institute of Phoenix, Arizona, where students may now receive federal grants and loans to take master classes on asteroid goddesses. The Pentagon admitted that its missile defense scheme probably would be unable to hit the wobbly, primitive missiles that “rogue states” would be most likely to fire. It nonetheless authorized the clearing of 135 acres in Alaska for an antimissile base. A big car bomb set by Basque terrorists blew up in Madrid. The Congressional Budget Office concluded that the federal budget surplus was pretty much gone. The stock market went down.
In Lumberton, Mississippi, a man was planning to amputate his useless feet with a guillotine live on the Internet; he hopes to raise money for prosthetic legs. Former basketball player Dennis Rodman ran amok in a Hooters restaurant and sprayed everyone with a fire extinguisher. Puff Daddy, a rapper, told a German magazine that the Queen of England has a poor fashion sense: “She should stick to muted shades and combine gray, black, and earth tones,” said Mr. Daddy. “Those pastel shades she wears don’t suit her at all and she has to do something about that haircut.” PBS aired the final episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. ABC, NBC, and CBS executives were working very hard to put more and nastier profanity in their prime-time television programs. India decided to subsidize televisions for poor people in the hope that increased viewing would cut down on sex and thus the swelling population. The man who discovered Morris the Cat died. Democratic fat cats and fund-raisers were turning up their noses at Al Gore’s recent attempts to “reach out” and beg for cash; many said they were focusing on winning the next presidential election with a viable candidate. Former president Bill Clinton went bikini shopping in Rio de Janeiro. Circumcision rates were off at the Circumcision Palace in Istanbul because of Turkey’s economic downturn. A Brazilian truck driver with a bullet in his head climbed out of a tomb and walked, covered in blood, to the nearest hospital. Over a hundred bats attacked a woman in Vienna when she opened her pantry in the middle of the night. A stray leopard injured nine people in eastern India. People in darkest Africa were bleaching their skin to look like Michael Jackson. Botulism was killing thousands of fish in Lake Erie.
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.”