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Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Senate that President Bush had decided to overthrow Iraq’sSaddam Hussein but had not yet settled on a strategy and was considering his options. The administration was reportedly planning to create an “inspection crisis” by demanding that Iraq admit arms inspectors and then using the expected refusal to justify an attack. “I do not think I am at a point where a decision has been made about where to go next, leave alone the precision of how we will be going about doing this,” said General Tommy Franks, who would be leading any such attack. Former vice president Al Gore said that Iraq was a “virulent threat” and called for a “final reckoning.” A new study estimated that 19.5 percent of Americans suffered from some form of mental illness, contradicting previous estimates that put the figure at 30 to 50 percent. Slobodan Milosevic opened his defense in his genocide and war-crimes trial. “It is all lies,” he said. “The real crime was the killing of Yugoslavia and crucifying me here.” Merck & Company announced that an unknown number of people in 27 countries had been given worthless hepatitis A vaccinations. President Bush told reporters in Japan that he and Prime Minister Koizumi had discussed “non-performing loans, the devaluation issue, and regulatory reform.” After the yen dropped sharply against the dollar, a White House spokesman explained that Bush meant to say “deflation,” not “devaluation.” A new study suggested that Alzheimer’s disease could be caused by eating too much meat.
The House of Representatives passed a ban on soft money. President Bush accepted the recommendation of the Department of Energy to dispose of much of the nation’s nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, even though the science needed to secure the site does not yet exist. Researchers found that mice infected with HIV die faster if they use cocaine. India’s Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party demonstrated against Valentine’s Day celebrations, burned greeting cards, accosted hand-holding couples, and harassed anyone else who appeared to be participating in the “market of love.” A New York man cut off his left ring finger and sent it to his ex-girlfriend as a Valentine. Afghans in Kandahar were said to have discovered the joys of satellite television pornography. Belgian police forgot about a vagrant they had arrested and left him in a cell for three days without food or water. A jury in Texas found a man guilty of assault for shooting his girlfriend because he thought she was going to say “New Jersey,” the sound of which sends him into an uncontrollable rage; the man also goes crazy when he hears “Wisconsin,” “Snickers,” and “Mars.” Maria Parlavecchio, the wife of convicted mobster Antonio Parlavecchio, was trying to get the government to release sperm that her husband smuggled out of prison with the aid of a prison guard; the sperm was confiscated from Mrs. Parlavecchio’s gynecologist. “It’s the fruits of the crime,” said a federal prosecutor.”It’s contraband.”
The Jamaican government was considering the legalization of marijuana for private use. Naomi Campbell, the model, told a British court that she is a drug addict and will “always be an addict”; Campbell has sued a newspaper for revealing that she attends meetings of Narcotics Anonymous. Doctors at Norway’s largest prison defended giving Viagra to incarcerated sex criminals: “If they have a problem,” one doctor said, “they have the same rights as anyone else to get help.” Students in seven states were suffering from a mysterious rash. New Zealand’s largest phone company apologized to an Auckland businessman who received a bill that included a $140 charge for “being an arrogant bastard.” The commander of an elite Israeli commando unit was killed by the falling wall of a Palestinian home that his men were demolishing. Colorado’s senate approved a bill that makes reckless political statements a crime. Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth but did not kneel. Police in Bogotá, Colombia, said that as many as 50 gangs of human vampires were terrorizing residents. After a dog walker found a human skull, authorities in Noble, Georgia, discovered dozens of skeletons and decomposing bodies at the Tri-State Crematory; apparently the furnace at the crematory broke down some years ago but the company continued to do business with funeral homes, sending back urns filled with burned wood chips and dirt. Princess Margaret was cremated in Slough. Up to 270 million monarch butterflies froze to death in a winter storm in Mexico. Evidence of the bombing of Afghan civilians by United States forces continued to emerge; American officials tried to justify the killing of Daraz Khan, known as “Tall Man,” who was hit by a missile as he gathered scrap metal near the village of Khost. They said that because the man was tall and appeared to be treated with deference by his companions, it was assumed that he was Osama bin Laden, who is six feet four. “We’re convinced that it was an appropriate target,” said a Pentagon spokesman, “but we do not know yet exactly who it was.” “There’s not much to add,” said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, “except there’s one version and there’s the other version.” Scientists at the Genetic Savings and Clone in College Station, Texas, announced that they had cloned a cat. A robot named Asimo rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in Californiaâs ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as âinvasive,â âexotic,â âalienâ â all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as âindigenously Californianâ elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a âhome without its mother.â Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
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 tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the âworldâs biggest selfies,â and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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âShelby 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.â