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America and Britain fired cruise missiles and dropped bombs on targets in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden taunted the United States in a televised statement and said, “America will not live in peace before peace reigns in Palestine, and before all the army of infidels depart the land of Mohammad, peace be upon him.” A suicidetruck bomb killed 26 people at the Legislative Assembly of Kashmir. Islamic radicals in Indonesia were roaming around looking for Americans to kill. Islamic rebels in the Philippines attacked the capital city of the island of Basilan. Philippine military officials said they had found the decapitated remains of an American hostage who was abducted by the rebels in May. A Russian airliner filled with Jews exploded over the Black Sea. Pentagon sources said the plane was hit by a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile, apparently by accident, during training exercises with Russia. A crowded airliner sat on a runway in India for three hours because pilots believed there were hijackers in the passenger cabin; passengers believed hijackers were in the cockpit. France’senvironmental minister revealed that the fertilizer factory that blew up in Toulouse last month might have been destroyed by terrorists. An American was killed by a package bomb in Saudi Arabia. Abdo Ali Ahmed, an American citizen, was murdered in East Reedley, California, for being an Arab. Illinois authorities found many bombs and over 12,000 rounds of ammunition in the camp of the United Survivalists of America. Barry Bonds set a new record for home runs.
A drunk in Alaska shot a hole in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, spilling 150,000 gallons of oil onto the tundra. Mayor Reinhard Reynisson of Husavik, Iceland, was planning to introduce alligators in some local ponds. A dozen Burger King employees were treated for first- and second-degree burns after they walked barefoot over white-hot coals at a “corporate bonding” retreat in Florida. The son of British prime minister Tony Blair was mugged in London. British people are more depressed than other Europeans, researchers found. A new library opened in Alexandria, Egypt, though it did not yet have a budget for books. A dam collapsed in China. Nenad Bilic, a 62-year-old retired cardiologist, disappeared somewhere in the Atlantic on his way to Ireland in a 21-foot red cedar rowboat. In Iran, a missing 16-month-old baby was found after three days in the den of a female bear; the bear apparently breast-fed the baby, who was in good health.
Scientists sequenced the genome of bubonic plague, which seems to have an “unusually fluid” genetic structure. New research suggested that the Black death might have been an Ebola-like hemorrhagic virus. Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, a tick-borne virus similar to Ebola, was killingAfghan refugees and health workers. Anthrax killed a man in Florida; spores were found on the man’s computer keyboard and in the nose of a co-worker at American Media Inc., the publisher of supermarket tabloids. The FBI suspected foul play. The one laboratory in the United States that has been approved to manufacture an anthrax vaccine has been unable to do so since 1998 because it has repeatedly failed safety inspections. The director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which was created by the 1997 treaty that bans such weapons, complained that he didn’t have enough money in his budget to make even basic preparations to respond to chemical attacks by terrorists. The Bush Administration was planning to bail out the insurance industry. Hawaii was preparing to spray caffeine on forests to kill noisy Puerto Rican frogs. A group of hunger-striking prisoners in Venezuela sewed their lips together. Prostitutes in Amsterdam were organizing a trade union. Police in Togo raided a church whose pastor was suspected of Satanism, and found a panther’s pelt, hyena paws, vulture eggs, and a hunchback’s hump. Strom Thurmond collapsed on the floor of the Senate but refused to die.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Discussed in this essay:
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.
The extinction symbol is a spare graphic that began to appear on London walls and sidewalks a couple of years ago. It has since become popular enough as an emblem of protest that people display it at environmental rallies. Others tattoo it on their arms. The symbol consists of two triangles inscribed within a circle, like so:
“The triangles represent an hourglass; the circle represents Earth; the symbol as a whole represents, according to a popular Twitter feed devoted to its dissemination (@extinctsymbol, 19.2K followers), “the rapidly accelerating collapse of global biodiversity” — what scientists refer to alternately as the Holocene extinction, the Anthropocene extinction, and (with somewhat more circumspection) the sixth mass extinction.
Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:
Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.
Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.
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Science’s crisis of faith