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President George W. Bush refused to declassify the twenty-eight pages of Congress’s September 11 report that pertained to Saudi Arabia, despite calls to do so by members of Congress and by the Saudi government itself, which said it intended to rebut the contents.New York TimesAccording to those who have read it, the redacted section lays out far more financial connections between the September 11 hijackers, fifteen of whom were Saudi, and the Saudi government than had been previously revealed.The most specific allegations concerned Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi man who had provided funds and assistance to two of the hijackers in San Diego; the classified section says that Al Bayoumi received $3,000 per month from the Saudi government, and speculates that he may have been employed by Saudi intelligence.Los Angeles TimesThe Saudis were continuing to capture suspected Al Qaeda militants in police raids; the government insisted that most of those captured had been trained in Afghanistan, but admitted that a few “perhaps were trained on farms and the like inside the country.”Los Angeles TimesIn Afghanistan, the Taliban assassinated a senior Muslim religious leader, the third in forty days.New York TimesThree Afghan officers were shot and wounded by U.S. soldiers, who said that the taxi in which the officers were riding was “driving aggressively” toward them.ReutersIn Iraq, the occupation government detained two Iranians who had identified themselves as journalists.Said an occupation official: “They were detained for doing things that we do not consider journalism.”New York TimesSaddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay were buried in the town of Awja; a jackhammer was required to dig their graves in the parched earth.New York TimesThe State Department agreed to pay $30 million to the Iraqi who snitched out the two.Bloomberg NewsColin Powell called Saddam Hussein “a piece of trash.”New York Times
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) quickly scuttled an idea to create a futures-trading market for terrorist attacks, after the plan was revealed by opponents in Congress. DARPA head John M. Poindexter announced his resignation, telling a friend that he planned to spend more time sailing.New York TimesThe Democratic Leadership Council warned that “the Democratic Party is in danger of being taken over by the far left.”New York TimesDemocratic state legislators in Texas once again fled the state over Republican plans to redraw congressional districts.Associated PressPresident Bush announced his opposition to same-sexunions.New York TimesThe Vatican issued an edict calling such unions “evil” and describing adoption of children by gay couples as “doing violence.”GuardianThe number of AIDS cases in the U.S. was shown to be rising for the first time in ten years.Washington PostA three-story hospital in southern Russia was destroyed by a truck bomb, allegedly the work of Chechen separatists; forty-one people were killed and scores wounded.New York TimesChina reportedly had developed an android “robo-nurse” to care for patients during future SARS outbreaks.AnanovaTo dispel fears of SARS, the Canadian government sponsored a rock concert, popularly known as “SARSstock,” for 430,000 attendees.New York TimesJohns Hopkins University’s medical center announced that it had been the first in the nation to perform three simultaneous kidney transplants.New York TimesA public-access television show in New York City held the world’s largest picnic.New York Daily NewsA British hip-hop DJ attempted to break the world record for playing records, but gave up after seventy hours due to “exhaustion.” Said an employee at the community center where the feat was attempted: “We all feel a little deflated but seventy hours is a long time.”Ananova
President Bush blamed the weakness of the economy on “the drumbeat to war,” which he attributed in turn to the news media.”Remember on our TV screens ‚?? I’m not suggesting which network did this ‚?? but it said, ‘March to War,’ every day from last summer until the spring,” Bush said.”‘March to War, March to War.’ That’s not a very conducive environment for people to take risk, when they hear ‘March to War’ all the time.”UndernewsA Senate Finance Committee report revealed that the IRS had asked the SEC to investigate Enron in 1999, after it uncovered evidence that the company had bribedGuatemalan officials.Houston ChronicleGuatemala’s former dictator was readying a run for president.Agence France-PresseSwedish prison guards were protesting the cushy prison conditions of Biljana Plavsic, the former Serb president serving a war-crimes sentence in Sweden.ReutersIn response to U.S. demands, Belgium voted to gut its own war-crimes law, passed in 1993, under which Belgian courts assumed jurisdiction over atrocities committed anywhere in the world; claims under the law had been filed against such Western leaders as Tony Blair and Ariel Sharon.New York TimesIsrael’s parliament passed a law forbidding Palestinians who marry Israelis from becoming Israeli citizens.New York TimesYasir Arafat tried to jail twenty Palestinian militants, but they refused to go.New York TimesIn Jerusalem, U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay called himself an “Israeli at heart.”New York TimesBoxer shorts belonging to John F.Kennedy, famously a Berliner at heart, were on display at a Dublin tailor.New York TimesA former Nixon aide claimed to have overheard the president order the Watergate break-in personally.Washington PostA new biography of John Wayne said that Joseph Stalin had plotted to have the actor killed.ReutersA Russian man said he had Hitler’s penis, and offered to sell it for $20,000.Ananova
More from Bill Wasik:
Six Questions — June 2, 2008, 1:36 pm
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‚Äôs founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution‚Äôs 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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‚ÄúShelby 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.‚ÄĚ