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The Bush Administration made history by “unsigning” the treaty that created the International Criminal Court, which has been signed and ratified by almost every major democracy in the world, and by renouncing any and all obligations to cooperate with the court. The Administration also said that it will not be bound by the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Laws of Treaties, which the U.S. signed but never ratified. The war between the Hells Angels and an alliance of the Mongols, Pagans, Outlaws, and Bandidos motorcycle gangs continued with the execution of Christian Harvey Tate, an Angel, who was shot in the back as he rode down Interstate 40. Yasir Arafat was released from his confinement in Ramallah, and the Israeli government continued its campaign to discredit him. Sources in the Israeli Defense Forces admitted that Israeli soldiers had engaged in widespread vandalism and looting of Palestinian property during the recent attack on the West Bank. An Arab member of Israel’s Knesset accused Israeli soldiers of “wiping their butts” with pages of the Koran during the operation. Anti-Semites vandalized a synagogue in London and the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Physicians for Human Rights confirmed the presence of a mass grave in Dasht-i-Laili, near Shibarghan, in Afghanistan; the evidence points to the Northern Alliance having murdered several hundred Taliban prisoners. Padshah Khan Zadran, an Afghan warlord who has received American support and whose brother is a minister in the national government, fired 200 rockets into Gardez, killing 25 people, mostly women and children. Zadran was mad at the people there and recently said he would “kill them all: men, women, children, even the chickens.” America regained its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Texas executed a one-legged murderer after refusing his request to be outfitted with a prosthetic leg so that he could walk to his own execution.
Former president Bill Clinton was reportedly thinking about hosting a daytime television talk show. Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, started crying during a drug summit when he addressed the subject of his daughter’s arrest on drug charges. Madagascar’s High Constitutional Court decreed that Marc Ravalomanana had won the recent presidential election; President Didier Ratsiraka, who had agreed to a recount, said he would ignore the ruling because the court was biased against him. About twenty-five percent of Pakistanis showed up and voted in a yes-or-no referendum on the rule of President Pervez Musharraf, who came to power in a military coup three years ago. Most voted “yes.” A federal judge ruled that the United States Department of Justice had illegally imprisoned Osama Awadallah, a Jordanian student, as a material witness in its investigation of the September 11 attacks and dismissed perjury charges that were subsequently brought against him. Lawyers for John Walker Lindh were fighting with government prosecutors over whether a secret government witness can be forced to testify by the defense. A sixth-grade honor student in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, was suspended from school for three days for making “terrorist threats” after she doodled a picture of a teacher with an arrow through her head. The largest organization of right-wing death squads in Colombia, the United Self Defense Forces, established a complaints hotline. Police arrested the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, an open advocate of “man-boy love” who has been accused of molesting many children during his 30-year ministry in Boston, for child rape. Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston accused one of Shanley’s victims of “negligence” in allowing himself to be sexually abused at age six. Four men in Los Angeles filed suit against Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and charged him with racketeering for failing to get rid of a pedophile priest. The Pope cracked down on priests who are too free and easy in granting group absolution to sinners: “It is clear,” said the Pope, “that penitents living in a habitual state of serious sin and who do not intend to change their situation cannot validly receive absolution.”
A Saudi Arabian man who knocked out two of another man’s teeth with a rock had two of his own teeth extracted as punishment. Parents in San Diego demanded the resignation of a female vice principal who publicly lifted the skirts of several high school students to determine whether the girls were wearing thong underwear, which for some reason is forbidden at school dances. Principal Paul Gentle said he was “looking into the situation.” A Congressional study found that food poisonings at school are increasing every year by 10 percent. A judge in Los Angeles ordered R.J. Reynolds Tobacco to pay a $14.8 million fine for distributing more than 100,000 free packs of cigarettes on public grounds where children were present. The American Lung Association denounced the government for not enforcing clean air laws; it said that nearly 400 U.S. counties have illegal air. Pipe bombs were found in rural mailboxes in Iowa and Illinois and Nebraska. Scientists implanted electrodes in the brains of rats and made them climb trees and perform other tricks by remote control. “They love to get picked up,” said one scientist, “and they don’t even have to be sacrificed because the longer we use them the better they get.” Britons work longer hours than they used to, a new study found, but produce less. Ugandan rebels known as the Lord’s Resistance Army attacked a funeral procession in the Sudan and forced 60 people to cook the corpse in sorghum and eat it, whereupon they were all shot. The rebels are led by Joseph Kony, who claims to be a prophet and wants to found a state based on the Ten Commandments. Turkey’s government was planning to ban “pessimistic” news. Hasbro, the maker of the Monopoly board game, was accused of price-fixing by the British office of fair trading. Eleven congressional pages were fired for smoking pot. Restaurateurs in Korea were planning to offer “dog meat juice” to foreigners outside the World Cup stadium in Seoul. “We plan to develop canned dog meat tonic juice, which football fans can enjoy in their stadium seats,” said Choi Han-Gwon, the head of an association of dog meat restaurants. “They will enjoy it instead of Coke.”
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature