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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:
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
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 tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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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.”