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President Bush, who has taken to using the phrase “the Bush doctrine” to describe his war on terrorism, collected $1 donations from American schoolchildren to help feed starving Afghan refugee children. He praised a young girl from Virginia who raised $45 by feeding chickens. “One way to fight evil is to fight it with kindness and love and compassion,” he said. “Winter arrives early in Afghanistan. It’s cold, really cold, and the children need warm clothing and they need medicines. And thanks to the American children, fewer children in Afghanistan will suffer this winter.” That day, at least one American bomb landed in the Red Cross compound in Kabul, setting several warehouses on fire. The president flew to Shanghai, China, for the Asia PacificEconomic Cooperation summit. He rode around in a limo and pronounced the city “mind-boggling” and “miraculous.” He wore a traditional Chinese silk jacket; it was blue with gold trim. He noted that “there is no isolation from evil.” At a joint press conference with President Jiang Zemin, President Bush answered questions about anthrax. “These are evil people and the deeds that have been conducted on the American people are evil deeds,” he said. “And anybody who would mail anthrax letters, trying to affect the lives of innocent people, is evil.” The president also cautioned that the anthrax attacks could turn out to be “a hoax.” Preliminary analysis of the anthrax found in New York and Florida showed that the bacteria was “professional grade” and all from the same strain. It was revealed that in 1944 Britain manufactured 5 million anthraxcattle cakes that were to be airdropped (in “Operation Vegetarian”) over Germany; the expectation was that the disease would kill all the cattle and then kill all the Germans. The plan was called off after the success of the Normandy Invasion.
American officials let it be known that President Bush and President Vladimir Putin had come to an historic understanding that would transform relations between their two countries. “Not only is the Cold War over,” said Secretary of State Colin Powell, “the post-Cold War period is also over.”Russia announced that it would close its electronic eavesdropping station in Cuba. In response to reports of heavy civilian casualties near Darunta, the Pentagon spent millions of dollars buying up exclusive rights to civilian satellite photos of the Afghan bombing zone to prevent the images from falling into the hands of the news media. Legally, the Pentagon has “shutter control” over civilian satellites to prevent enemies from acquiring sensitive intelligence data, but in this case the images had no strategic value. The FBI was moving to require all internet service providers to reconfigure email systems to make them more accessible to government spying. Credit cards belonging to the September 11suicide bombers were still being used, authorities said. British soldiers found a 130-pound homemade bomb near Omagh, where the Real IRA killed 29 people in a 1998 bombing. In New York, four of Osama bin Laden’s colleagues were sentenced to life in prison in connection with the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa. Dutch policearrested Bert and Ernie in front of a hundred children at a fair in Bergen op Zoom because the actors wearing the costumes were violating Sesame Street’s intellectual property rights. Canada announced that it was overriding Bayer’s patent on Cipro and ordered 1 million tablets from a Canadian manufacturer. Scientists warned that overuse of Cipro could soon render it useless as bacteria develop resistance. Three new studies found that the chicken, beef, turkey, and pork sold in American supermarkets commonly contain antibiotic-resistant strains of dangerous bacteria. In one study, humans who consumed the meat had the dangerous bacteria in their stool samples. Cosmetic surgeons reported a surge in relatively minor office procedures such as eyelifts and botox and collagen injections. “As people’s external lives become more questionable,” one expert noted, “they look inside themselves.”
One hundred Army Rangers and other elite American troops carried out a nighttime assault in Afghanistan. Two American soldiers died in a related helicopter accident. An Israelideath squad assassinated a Hamas leader while he was praying on his roof. “This is not the first and not the last,” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared. A few days later a Palestiniandeath squad assassinated Rehavan Zeevi, Israel’s minister of tourism, who had been a strong advocate of “transferring” all Palestinians out of the occupied territories. Israel sent tanks into Bethlehem. “Arafat has seven days to impose absolute quiet in the territories,” Sharon declared. “If not, we will go to war against him.” An Australian woman, a professional butcher, was convicted of killing her lover, boiling his head and body parts with some vegetables, and serving the stew to his children. In Ohio, judges and prosecutors apologized to a man who spent 13 years in prison for rape after new DNA tests cleared him of the crime. A historian claimed that Mata Hari was made a scapegoat by the French, who falsified evidence against her and executed her as a German spy 85 years ago. In Springfield, Missouri, a funeral home dumped a man’s corpse on his front porch because no one paid to have him cremated. Prostitutes were descending on Angeles City in the Philippines in preparation for the arrival of American troops. Germany gave its 400,000 prostitutes working rights, including the right to unemployment benefits, job training, health insurance, and a pension. The hookers will have the legal right to refuse customers and to sue them if they don’t pay. Britons were having more sex to keep their minds off the war. A new study found that AIDS is now the leading cause of death in South Africa. There were fewer children in San Francisco. Toyota announced a new car that will smile, frown, cry, and develop an emotional relationship with its owner. It will be called Pod. A cleaning man at London’s Eyestorm Gallery tossed out an installation by “young British artist” Damien Hirst a day after it was assembled because he thought it was just a pile of garbage; the artwork, which was largely composed of cigarette butts, empty beer bottles, candy wrappers, and newspapers thrown about on the floor, was re-created by gallery staff based on photographs of the original.
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.”