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The Taliban surrendered Kandahar, the last Afghan city under its control, to a loose confederation of warlords, who immediately began fighting among themselves and looting stores. Afghan refugees, particularly children, were dying in great numbers; Uzbekistan finally agreed to allow humanitarian aid to cross its border at the “Friendship Bridge.” The CIA asked Pakistan for help in finding Osama bin Laden, whose mother told a Saudi newspaper that she was disappointed in her son. Mullah Omar was still at large. The White House issued a holiday terror-strike warning. Attorney General John Ashcroft testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which had summoned him to explain his dubious anti-terrorism tactics. “To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty,” he said, “my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists.” He also accused his critics of giving “ammunition to America’s enemies.” The attorney general went on to defend his refusal to compromise the right of potential terrorists to keep and bear arms. Mary Robinson, the United Nations commissioner for human rights, criticized the Bush Administration for its plan to hold secret military trials of foreigners accused of terrorism. Immigration courts were already holding secret trials; court officials have been forbidden even to confirm that the cases exist. Clayton Lee Waagner, who was arrested for mailing hundreds of anthrax hoax letters to abortion clinics, said he had nothing against John Ashcroft: “I understand he’s anti-abortion also. He’s a good man.”
Bandits in Afghanistan stopped a bus and cut off the ears and noses of six men who had shaved their beards. Believing that his penis was a “cobra” driving him to sin, a Filipino farmer lopped it off with his machete and cast it away. “He wanted to be nailed to a coconut tree,” his mother reported. Doctors reconstructed the penis, though at considerably shorter length, and said the man would still be able to have children. Chinese zoos were planning to give Viagra to some endangered impotent tigers; “cage life” was blamed for their condition. Angry women in Kenya were attacking bars, claiming that cheap alcohol was making their husbands impotent. Vigilante women in Pune, India, who called themselves the Bangle Army, were attacking bootleg alcohol vendors with rolling pins. Senator Strom Thurmond turned 99; he told his colleagues that he loved them. “I appreciate every one of you, especially you ladies. You are good-looking.” The Senate refused to consider a moratorium on human cloning. Two 17-year-old lesbians in Dover, New Hampshire, were named class sweethearts in their high school yearbook after the superintendent overruled a principal who had disqualified the couple. New Jersey was putting striking teachers in jail. In Sweden, four teenagers were convicted of treason for hitting the king in the face with strawberry cream cake.
The Pentagon performed another rigged test of its antimissile system; this time the “kill vehicle” actually struck its target, which was emitting a homing beacon. Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal Specialist Hospital filed suit in the Grand Islamic court seeking $2.9 billion from tobacco companies to cover 25 years of treating smoking-related illnesses. Half the smokers in Britain believe smoking is safe because the government continues to permit the habit. In Missouri, a pharmacist admitted to diluting cancerdrugs; he did it because he needed to raise money to pay $1,000,000 in taxes and a pledge to his church. American students are still mediocre, a new study found. George Harrison’s ashes were sprinkled on the Ganges River in India. Moscowpolicearrested seven men trying to sell more than two pounds of weapons-grade enriched uranium. A maximum-security prison in Waupun, Wisconsin, appointed a witch to serve as a volunteer chaplain. Enron, the energy trading company with very close ties to President Bush, collapsed and filed the largest corporate bankruptcy in American history. Hookers in Romania were letting their customers buy sex on credit. Pat Robertson resigned from the Christian Coalition. New data suggested that Mars was undergoing global warming.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
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.'”