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Attorney General John Ashcroft approved a new emergency policy that will allow the government to monitor conversations between federal prisoners and their lawyers and to read such mail. The president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers denounced the policy as “an abomination” that violates the Sixth Amendment right to an attorney. The government said it would no longer issue a running tally of the number of people arrested in its investigation of the September 11attacks. At last count, 1,182 people had been detained; the Justice Department has refused to say who is being held, under what charges, or how many have been released. House and Senate negotiators agreed to ban any United States cooperation with the International Criminal Court because of fears that Americans could be charged with war crimes. Pundits both liberal and conservative were warming to the idea of torturing prisoners in the antiterrorism investigation, which has so far disappointed them. There were reports that the Pakistani who was arrested following September 11 and died in federal custody had multiple fractures and deep bruises on his body. Employees of Argenbright Security, the airport security firm, were fired after they let a man carrying seven knives, a stun gun, and pepper spray through a security checkpoint in Chicago. Another passenger jet crashed in New York City; Congress was still haggling over whether to nationalize airport security. Bush Administration officials were worried that foreign public opinion had turned against them. Osama bin Laden told a Pakistani newspaper that he didn’t know anything about the anthraxattacks in the United States. Federal agents, who now believe the anthrax to be the work of a lone domestic terrorist, still have not gotten around to locating all the labs in the United States where the bacteria can be legally handled, though they were busy cracking down on medicalmarijuana in California and assisted suicide in Oregon. The first clinical trial of marijuana released preliminary findings suggesting that pot is a “wonder drug” for people suffering from osteoporosis, cancer, AIDS, arthritis, spinal injuries, and some forms of mental illness.
Alabama’s board of educationvoted to put a sticker with a disclaimer on biology textbooks stating that “evolution is a controversial theory.”A couple in Colorado who because of their religious beliefs allowed their 13-year-old daughter to die of diabetes and gangrene without medical treatment were sentenced to 20 months’ probation and 1,300 hours of community service. They were also required to provide medical insurance for their remaining 12 children. Dr. Simon Stertzer, a cardiovascular surgeon who performed the first coronary angioplasty in the United States, bought the Palomino Club in Las Vegas. Dr. Stertzer said he bought the strip club as an investment to fund his research: “Whatever will provide cash flow will do.” Prostitutes in China were giving student discounts. Cornel West, the Harvard professor, released a rap album. The government of Uttar Pradesh, India, was encouraging people to use cow’s urine to cure diabetes and heart disease. Trevor Harvey, the president of Mad Dads, an anti-violence group, was arrested in Sarasota, Florida, for punching a referee during his son’s football game. A Brazilian website was offering to send shit to anyone for $2.50. Verizon was continuing to charge residents and businesses who have been without telephone service since September 11.Protestants in Belfast agreed to suspend their harassment of Catholic girls on their way to the Holy Cross Girls’ Primary School as a “gesture of goodwill.”
A 16-year-old Latvian girl who struck Prince Charles in the face with a red carnation to protest the bombing of Afghanistan was charged with endangering the life of a high official. Israeli legislators voted to lift parliamentary immunity from an Israeli Arab legislator so that he could be prosecuted for advocating Palestinian resistance to Israeli policies. Twenty Iranian dissidents were being tried for allegedly attempting to overthrow the government. Russians celebrated the eighty-fourth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. The Taliban proposed that President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Mullah Mohammad Omar fight a duel. President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan came to the United States asking President Bush for “visible gestures” of appreciation for betraying the Taliban, and received $1 billion in aid. China was admitted to the World Trade Organization. American doctors were concerned about the ethics of treating people who had received organ transplants in China, where executed prisoners are the most common organ donors. Ken Kesey died. Karl Rove, senior adviser to President Bush, met with Hollywood executives in an attempt to drum up some good patriotic movies. The executive director of the National Frozen Pizza Institute welcomed a federal proposal to drop archaic regulations dictating the ingredients of frozen pizzas. Harry Potter fans looted a theatre after the movie premiered in Scotland. King Mswati III of Swaziland was fined one cow for violating his recent ban on having sex with minors after he chose a 17-year-old to be his ninth wife; 300 young women cast down their chastity belts and then speared, roasted, and ate the cow. Researchers found that Germans are almost always in the mood for love.
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