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Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as archbishop of Boston and begged forgiveness from the people who were hurt by his “shortcomings and mistakes” in repeatedly covering up for pedophile priests. The archdiocese may file for bankruptcy to protect itself from the many lawsuits filed by people who were molested by men of God. Henry Kissinger resigned from the independent commission investigating the September 11 attacks because he was unwilling to reveal the names of his clients. Trent Lott apologized at least four times for saying that the country would have been a lot better off if Strom Thurmond had been elected president in 1948, when he ran on a platform opposing the “social intermingling of the races.” The national media suddenly realized that Lott had been saying things like that for years, and hasty surveys of his legislative record revealed many, many votes against civil-rights measures or anything that could be so construed. Yasir Arafat denounced Osama bin Laden and told him to stop using Palestine to justify terrorism. Al Gore declared that he will not run for president in 2004. Jimmy Carter smiled very widely as he received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo and blew a kiss to soprano Jessye Norman, who sang songs in his honor. Carter noted in his speech that “the world has changed greatly” since he left the White House. Marvel Comics revealed that it will publish a comic book with an openly gay character named the Rawhide Kid. Argentina granted legal status to homosexual couples. Britain proposed to grant transsexuals the right to marry under their chosen sex. A British vicar told a church full of young children that Santa was dead and that reindeer would burst into flames if they traveled fast enough to deliver presents to children all over the world. American non-Christians told pollsters that evangelical Christians are better than prostitutes but worse than lawyers or lesbians.
Iraq was upset that the United States took possession of the only copy of its weapons declaration that was given to the United Nations Security Council; Norway and Syria, nonpermanent members of the council, complained that they would receive only edited versions of the document. The U.S. warned that it reserves the right to use nuclear weapons on Iraq if necessary. President Bush said that North Korea’s plan to restart a nuclear plant was “unacceptable” but for some reason did not threaten to invade the country or carry out a “regime change.” Scientists said they could detect early signs of schizophrenia in brain scans. New polls in South Africa revealed a growing nostalgia, even among blacks, for apartheid. Congressional Democrats said that the 2000 census missed 6 million people, including 1.2 million Hispanics and 750,000 blacks; the census also counted 3 million people twice. Several major Western museums issued a statement defending their right to keep antiquities stolen from other civilizations during colonial times. Archaeologists named a dinosaur after Michael Crichton, the author of Jurassic Park; the beast will be known as Crichtonsaurus bohlini.
President Bush selected John W. Snow, a railroad executive who used to work in the Ford Administration, to replace Paul O’Neill, the former Ford official whom he fired last week, as secretary of the treasury. A newspaper columnist reported personal information about John Poindexter, the Iran-Contra conspirator in charge of the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness project, including his private phone number, his address, the amount he paid for his home, and the fact that it is covered with artificial siding; others then posted satellite photos of Poindexter’s home on the Internet, and hackers posted details about his local Verizon telephone switch. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was thinking about launching a propaganda campaign aimed at friendly countries. Russia’s Interior Ministry announced new rules requiring police officers to go door-to-door as part of a “getting to know you” campaign; the officers will do so every three months, and they will collect “social, economic, and demographic” data on residents, whose participation will be voluntary. Two Spanish warships intercepted a shipment of Scud missiles from North Korea off the coast of Yemen; American forces confiscated the missiles but later had to give them back after the president of Yemen called Dick Cheney and complained. The Pentagon’s missile defense system failed another test. Cherie Blair, the wife of the British prime minister, was the subject of a massive media scandal involving her “lifestyle adviser,” a former topless model, and the adviser’s ex-con husband. The British government proposed fining the parents of children who play hooky. There was a movement afoot in Austria to stamp out Santa Claus. North Korea denounced the new James Bond movie and said that America is “the headquarters that spreads abnormality, degeneration, violence, and fin-de-siecle corrupt sex culture.” The announcement also declared that America is “the root cause of all disasters and misfortune of the Korean nation.” A policedog in St. Petersburg, Florida, bit off a robbery suspect’s penis. Thousands of gentoo and Magellanic penguins were found paralyzed and dying on the beaches of the Falkland Islands. Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Fish fell from the sky in northern Greece.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
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 naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby 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.”