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A suicide bomber in a shiny new cement truck blew up the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad and killed 23 people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N.special representative in Iraq.A pair of hands and a pair of feet, possibly those of the truck’s driver, were found 150 yards from the wreckage.New York TimesThe Bush Administration was hoping that the bombing would persuade Europeans to send more troops to Iraq; the French were quite clear that this would require “sharing information and authority.” Germany and Russia were also unwilling to allow their troops to serve under U.S. command.BBCPalestinians and Israelis were slaughtering one another again.A Hamas suicide bomber blew up a bus in Jerusalem, killing 20 people, six of whom were children, and wounding many more.One nine-year-old boy who survived was blown out of the bus and landed on some dead babies.New York TimesAmerican soldiers were still dying in Iraq,Associated Pressand the Bush Administration continued to resist calls to increase the number of troops there.New York TimesA bomb went off in Najaf, Iraq’s holy city, and killed three guards of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Said al-Hakim.New York TimesThree British soldiers were killed in Basra.BBCTwo car bombs exploded in Bombay, killing at least 50 and wounding more than 130.Body parts were strewn all over the streets and survivors left trails of blood as they fled.BBCSeven people, including one infant, were killed in a boat bombing in Puerto Rico, Colombia.BBCThree people died and 17 were injured in a bus bomb in Krasnodar, Russia.BBCFighting continued in Afghanistan between government troops and Taliban guerrillas.ReutersIslamic militants burned down a girls’ school south of Kabul,Associated Pressand American diplomats revealed that President Bush, after sizing up the situation in Afghanistan “like a businessman,” has concluded that an additional investment in that country could lead more quickly to an American withdrawal.New York TimesMary Carey, the porn actress who is running for governor in California, offered to go on a date with anyone who contributes $5,000 to her campaign.Reuters ar
A federal judge dismissed a request for an injunction by Fox News against Al Franken’s new book; Fox claimed that Franken was violating its ownership of the common phrase “fair and balanced” by using it in his title.The judge said that the case was “wholly without merit, both factually and legally.” One of Fox’s lawyers, challenged by the judge to maintain a straight face while claiming that Franken’s book is not satire, declared that “this is much too subtle to be considered a parody.”Associated Press, ReutersAn internal EPA report revealed that the Bush Administration forced the agency to lie about the air quality in New York City just after 9/11.The agency, which was forced to filter all public statements through the president’s National Security Council, had no basis for its claim that the air in New York was safe to breathe.Associated PressThe Indian government declared that 12 soft drinks made by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo were perfectly safe, contradicting a nongovernmental study by the Center for Science and Environment, which concluded that the soft drinks had unsafe levels of pesticides.New York TimesA 1,000-year-old tree fell on a car in Sequoia National Park,Associated Pressand John Geoghan, a defrocked pedophile priest, was strangled to death in prison.New York TimesThousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C., in front of the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.New York TimesTwo groups of rebels signed a peace accord with the Liberian government; “If the war’s finished, the war’s finished,” said General Iron Jacket, a rebel.General Push the Button was less optimistic.”I’ve been fighting for 13 years,” he said.”I’m tired.But when you disarm someone, you should give them something for their arms.”New York TimesThere were reports of a massacre in the northeastern part of the country and heavy fighting between government and rebel forces.BBC, Daily TelegraphOne hundred fifty United States Marines, who were greeted with jubilation by Liberians 11 days ago, withdrew to their warships off the coast of Monrovia, the last helicopter trailing a Humvee that dangled in a giant sling.New York TimesThe Earth Liberation Front destroyed a number of Hummers and other SUVs at a car dealership in West Covina, California.Associated PressFrance’s director general for health care resigned after it was revealed that 5,000 people died in the recent heat wave;New York Timesthat estimate was soon raised to 10,000,Agence France-Presseand hundreds of corpses were said to be lying unclaimed in refrigerated trucks.BBCFrench winemakers were enjoying a very good harvest.New York Times
Attorney General John Ashcroft was on the road giving speeches in defense of the USA Patriot Act.New York TimesCongressional Democrats warned that the speeches were in violation of rules banning the use of Justice Department funds for political or propaganda purposes.New York TimesTampa, Florida, shut down its face-recognition software that scanned crowds in the Ybor City neighborhood for criminals but led to no arrests after two years. “I wouldn’t consider it a failure,” said one policeman.Enaam Arnaout, the former head of the Benevolence International Foundation, a Muslim charity, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for fraudulently funneling donations to terrorists.Although he pleaded guilty, Arnaout declared his innocence and said that he had been kidnapped by the government.”I came to this country to enjoy freedom and justice,” he said.”I came to have a peaceful life.”New York TimesA drunk construction worker in Mexico paid two 11-year-old boys to castrate him so that he could “live more calmly.”Associated PressIcelandic whalers harpooned their first whale in 14 years.ReutersArchaeologists found what they believe to be the Donner Party’s campsite; they also found what could be physical evidence of cannibalism, a bone fragment with ax marks on it.Associated PressBritish police raided an artist’s home after a burglar mistook a mask made out of bacon for a human head.BBCGasoline was scarce in Arizona.New York TimesAl Qaeda’s Abu Hafs Brigades took credit for the recent blackout and said that it was a gift to the Iraqi people.MEMRI.orgA gas plant exploded in Tulsa, Oklahoma.Associated PressChief Justice Roy Moore of Alabama was suspended (with pay) for refusing to obey a federal court order to remove his big Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Supreme Court building.New York TimesThe U.S. crime rate hit a 30-year low,BBCand a Canadian warehouse worker was killed by an avalanche of frozen food.Canadian PressA horse gave birth to her own clone.Scientific AmericanEgypt banned foreign belly dancers.New York Times
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Amount by which a typical good-looking U.S. worker will out-earn a typical ugly one over a lifetime:
A Japanese inventor unveiled a new invisibility cloak that uses a material made of thousands of tiny beads called “retro-reflectum.”
A couple at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina, left their waitress a note telling her “the woman’s place is in the home,” in lieu of a tip.
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"She never thanked me, never looked at me—melted away into the miserable night, in the strangest manner I ever saw. I have seen many strange things, but not one that has left a deeper impression on my memory than the dull impassive way in which that worn-out heap of misery took that piece of money, and was lost."