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The Pentagon’s top-secret “Nuclear Posture Review” was leaked to the press. The document describes situations in which nuclear weapons might be used in a first strike on Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, or North Korea. There was concern that the Bush Administration was trying to redefine nuclear weaponry as an instrument of war rather than a deterrent; one Russian lawmaker suggested that the President’s men had “somewhat lost touch with reality.” An unnamed Bush Administration official acknowledged that the President was beginning to lose the political advantage that resulted from September 11; the “post-attack glow is fading,” he said. Washington’s state senate passed a ban on bullying. Texans for Public Justice revealed that President Bush has rewarded 43 of his “Pioneers,” people who raised more than $100,000 for his campaign, with ambassadorships and other government patronage jobs. President Bush tried to get Stevie Wonder’s attention by smiling and waving at him. There was heavy fighting in Afghanistan; eight American soldiers were killed. “First let me say that our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and the friends of the service members who have lost their lives in our ongoing operations in Vietnam,” said General Tommy Franks, who oversees Operation Enduring Freedom from Tampa, Florida. “Certainly that sacrifice is appreciated by this nation.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that “the United States is leaning forward and not back.”
A woman in Fort Worth, Texas, was arrested for running over a homeless man and then parking her car, with the injured man still stuck in her windshield, in her garage; her lawyer denied accusations that his client apologized to the man, ignored his cries for help for three days, and let him bleed to death, but did not dispute the fact that her boyfriend dumped the victim’s lifeless body in a park. The carnage continued in Palestine: There were several suicide bombings, with the usual Israeli counterattacks, and civilian casualties were heavy on both sides. An Israeli tank was videotaped crushing two Palestinian ambulances. “If the Palestinians are not being beaten, there will be no negotiations,” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told reporters. “Only after they’ve been battered will we be able to conduct talks.” Sharon was then publicly rebuked by the Bush Administration. A bomb was discovered in an Israeli Arab school in Jerusalem; a group called “Revenge of the Infants” claimed responsibility. Israeli veterinarians were giving Valium to nervous dogs to soothe their panic attacks. The Indian government was compensating the relatives of people killed in recent ethnic clashes at a rate of $2,050 per dead Muslim and twice that for a dead Hindu. Harish Bhai Bhatt, the leader of the militant World Hindu Council, defended the massacres of Muslims by his followers. “Now it is the end of toleration,” he said. “If the Muslims do not learn, it will be very harmful for them.” Quebec’s minister of population admitted that he and seven friends killed 18,000 doves, pigeons, and turtledoves in six days on a hunting trip to Argentina. “They’re really easy to kill,” he said. “In fact, it’s more shooting than hunting.”
Wonder Bread settled a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission and agreed to stop claiming that its bread makes children’s minds work better and improves their memories. A Florida bong maker was nominated for Republican of the Year; he was arrested recently when his bongs, marketed under the brand-name Chills, turned up in a raid. “It’s a complete misunderstanding,” he told reporters. “I’m not going to make pipes again. I’m embarrassed that my government has put me in this position: They’ve lumped me in with some liberal longhaired dopers. That’s not the kind of crowd I run with.” Independent Counsel Robert W. Ray issued his final report on the Whitewater scandal and said he could have charged Bill Clinton with perjury but decided that the poor man had suffered enough. A New York judge sentenced a man to one year without television. The United Nations told fishermen along the Caspian Sea that they could resume the sturgeon caviar harvest. Starving Afghans were said to be selling their children for food. The Roman Catholic bishop of Palm Beach, Florida, resigned after he was exposed as a child molester. Twenty-one nuns in Pennsylvania won their appeal of a decision by the Social Security Administration to cut their benefits because the sisters had taken a vow of poverty. Congress decreed that the Education Department’s Office of Bilingual Education will now be called the Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students. Experts warned that boring sex was a global problem. The scientists who recently declared that the overall color of the universe was turquoise admitted that they had a bug in their code: the color of the universe is beige.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Amount the town of Rolfe, Iowa, will pay anyone who builds a home there:
Ancient Egyptians worshiped some dwarves as gods.
In Italy, a judge ordered that a man who paid for sex with a 15-year-old girl must buy her 30 feminist-themed books, including The Diary of Anne Frank and the poems of Emily Dickinson.
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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.'”