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Israel used an American-made F-16 to drop a one-ton laser-guided bomb on a densely populated residential area in Gaza City, killing a prominent Hamas leader and 14 others, nine of them children. President George W. Bush, who is currently preparing for his month-long vacation, described the move as “heavy-handed.” A human-rights group reported that at least 800 Afghan civilians have been killed so far by U.S. air strikes. A British company was offering vacation packages to war zones in Afghanistan. County officials in Philadelphia launched a “homeland security summer camp” where at-risk teens are paid minimum wage for participating in an eight-week program on “terrorism response.” Reports surfaced that “Ground Zero, USA,” an urban-warfare camp in Alabama, may have unwittingly trained al Qaeda operatives. A Secret Service agent admitted writing, “Islam is evil, Christ is King,” on a Muslim prayer calendar while searching the home of a man accused of entering the country with counterfeit cashier’s checks. Democratic senator Joseph Biden proposed that soldiers should be granted the right to arrest American civilians. A Bush-appointed member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission predicted that the public would demand internment camps in the event of another attack by Arab terrorists, and “you can forget about civil rights.” A British company unveiled a line of airplane seats equipped with body sensors that monitor passenger-anxiety levels. A 36-year-old woman filed suit against Delta Airlines after being forced to show her fellow passengers the dildo that had been vibrating in her luggage. Parents in California were complaining about a middle-school teacher who duct-taped her students to the floor to show them what it felt like to be on slave ships. Two bald eagles with talons entwined fell into a tree and dangled there upside down for the better part of a day.
A Florida jury ordered two retired generals from El Salvador to pay $54 million to three civilians who were tortured by U.S.-funded security forces during that country’s 12-year civil war. Army doctors in Kabul performed a mass circumcision for Afghan boys between the ages of two and eleven. Before the operation, the boys were treated to a party complete with cakes and a band playing children’s music. Two prominent New Jersey priests were arrested for soliciting sex from an underage prostitute during the Catholic World Youth Day celebration in Toronto. A pet-shop employee in Pennsylvania stomped a kitten to death in front of the children who were waiting to buy it. The man, who was sentenced to 100 hours of service to the community, claimed the kitten was biting him. A game-show contestant in Chile was mauled by a tiger that she attempted to pet in order to win a car. Australian authorities launched a program that involves painting roadkill koala bears fluorescent red and leaving them on the side of highways for twenty-four hours to shock drivers into slowing down. Some people in Britain were trying to block a planned cleanup of a Manchester canal to keep it from losing its trademark tomato-soup color. Fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico discovered a massive patch of slimy, viscous black water devoid of marine life. Hundreds of giant flying squid were washing up on beaches in San Diego. More than 400 sheep leapt to their deaths in a ravine in southern France.
Scientists announced that an enormous asteroid may hit earth on February 1, 2019, potentially destroying a continent and reducing the planet to Dark Age conditions; despite the collision’s very low odds, dozens of people in England were moved to pay a Welsh businessman $1,500 each for shelter in subterranean caves. Lockheed Martin was developing an infrared-laser weapon for fighter planes that could blind people on the ground, even if they are far from the target. Brazilian police announced that they will begin patrolling from a 130-foot-long airship that will hover over the crime-ridden streets of Rio; companies have been invited to advertise on the sides of the ship. Ice-T announced the release of Posse Pops, an ice-cream treat marketed specifically to urban youth. Researchers revealed that sperm work cooperatively, with hundreds linking together to form a “love train” to reach an egg more quickly. A group of 30 monkeys laid siege to an Indian police station to rescue an orphaned member of their tribe. Scientists found that women are more emotional than men. A Montreal-based company unveiled a home cloning machine; the microwave-shaped device, which can be had for $9,199, comes with a foot pedal for “hands-free fusion at four different speeds.” India’s first eunuch lawmaker was facing expulsion for chasing a fellow legislator around parliament with a pair of slippers. The eunuch claimed that it was a justified reaction against those who “cannot accept a member of the third sex in politics.” A fat man sued four fast-food chains for neglecting to inform him that their food is unhealthy. An Australian fast-food restaurant was under fire for an advertisement that joked that the hunger-striking Afghan detainees in Woomera prison camps had decided to unsew their lips after hearing about the restaurant’s chicken combo giveaway. Researchers in Switzerland reported that Swiss people have no serious complaints. Fifteen hundred gallons of Southern Comfort were accidentally spilled into the Louisville, Kentucky, sewer system. New York City firefighters were begging people to stop sending them gifts. A Pennsylvania man died after falling into a 1,200-gallon vat of chocolate.
More from Elizabeth Giddens:
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