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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:
The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.
Amount an auditor estimated last year that Oregon could save each year by feeding prisoners less food:
Kentucky is the saddest state.
An Italian economist was questioned on suspicion of terrorism after a fellow passenger on an American Airlines flight witnessed him writing differential equations on a pad of paper.
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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.'”