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North Korea warned that it is “not currently able to meet its commitments under the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons” and said that this was the fault of the United States. South Korea’s president-elect said that he was skeptical about President Bush’s policies on North Korea, particularly the new notion of “tailored containment” that was suggested this week. “Success or failure of a U.S. policy toward North Korea isn’t too big a deal to the American people,” he said. “But it is a life-or-death matter for South Koreans.” President George W. Bush, who spent much of his holiday clearing brush down at the ranch in Crawford, Texas, mentioned North Korea on his way to grab a cheeseburger and said that Saddam Hussein still “hasn’t heard the message.” Referring to meetings with President Jiang Zemin of China, Bush said that “right here in Crawford, we had a dialogue where we both committed ourselves to working in a way to convince Kim Jong Il that it’s not in his country’s best interests to arm up with nuclear weapons.” The president later traveled to Fort Hood, Texas, where he told some soldiers that Saddam Hussein “holds the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council and its resolutions in contempt. He really doesn’t care about the opinion of mankind.” It was reported that Condoleezza Rice is sometimes teased by her colleagues in the White House for speaking in complete sentences. A new study found that autism is on the rise. Scientists reported that orangutans possess culture because they apparently ape one another’s behavior; for example, orangutans in one area make a characteristic sound when they are annoyed; others masturbate with sticks.
Bush Administration officials said they were pleased with a recent thaw in relations with Syria, a country that remains on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. “The Syrians are highly opportunistic and pragmatic,” said one anonymous source. “Which is why we can work with them.” Israel’s supreme court ruled that soldiers must serve in the Occupied Territories even if they object to the occupation, because “the recognition of selective conscientious objection might loosen the links that hold us together as a people.” A group of more than 500 reservists had refused to serve in Palestinian areas because to do so involved “dominating, expelling, starving, and humiliating an entire people.” Imran Abu Hamdiya, a 17-year-old boy from Hebron, was found beaten to death in a local industrial park shortly after he was seen being taken away by Israeli border police. “Every day they take men,” said one mourner at the boy’s funeral. “They hit them and they break their bones. What kind of life is this?” Two suicide bombers struck in Tel Aviv, killing 23 people and wounding 100; body parts were scattered throughout the area and the injured left trails of blood as they fled. Three American Baptist missionaries were murdered by Islamic militants in Yemen. There was new fighting in the Congo. Rebels in the Ivory Coast apologized to French officers for firing on their troops. In Kenya, President Daniel arap Moi ceded power to Mwai Kibaki, who immediately noted that he was “inheriting a country which has been badly ravaged by years of misrule and ineptitude.”
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was inaugurated as President of Brazil; the United States snubbed the celebration of Brazil’s first leftist, working-class president by sending the U.S. trade representative, Robert Zoellick, whom Lula dismissed as “the subsecretary of a subsecretary of a subsecretary,” after Zoellick warned that Brazil would be exporting its products to Antarctica if it didn’t support President Bush’s economic policies. Shortly after its first cabinet meeting, the new Brazilian government announced that it will postpone a planned $760 million purchase of military jets and said that the money could be better spent fighting hunger. “If at the end of my term of office,” Lula said in a speech, “every Brazilian has the opportunity to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then I will have completed my mission in life.” The United Nations said that it was prevented by land mines from delivering food to 40,000 hungry people in Angola. The Naples, Florida, branch of the Salvation Army refused a $100,000 donation from a lottery winner because its director won’t take money associated with gambling. More than two dozen surgeons walked off the job in West Virginia to protest the high costs of medical malpractice insurance. Clonaid announced that a second human clone was born but still did not provide any evidence for its original claim. A spokesman for the company, which is owned by the Raelian cult, which believes that humans originated as clones placed on Earth by space aliens, said that the clone’s “parents” were having second thoughts about permitting the DNA tests. Acting Governor Jane Swift of Massachusetts, who stepped down after becoming the first governor to give birth while in office, told a magazine that “it was virtually impossible for me to take advice and make decisions when I was responding emotionally as a mother, not thinking rationally as a public official.” An elk drunk from eating rotten apples attacked an eight-year-old Swedish boy and was shot dead. Prozac was approved for children.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Number of people who attended the World Grits Festival, held in St. George, South Carolina, last spring:
The brown bears of Greece continued chewing through telephone poles.
In Peru, a 51-year-old activist became the first former sex worker to run for the national legislature. “I’m going to put order,” she said, “in that big brothel which is Congress.”
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“Civilization masks us with a screen, from ourselves and from one another, with thin depth of unreality. We habitually live — do we not? — in a world self-created, half established, of false values arbitrarily upheld, largely inspired by misconception, misapprehension, wrong perspective, and defective proportion, misapplication.”