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Congress approved a major Medicare bill that permits the elderly to buy prescription drug coverage; few citizens were able to understand the plan, though the health-care industry appeared to be well pleased by it. The legislation was endorsed by AARP, which nowadays makes a great deal of money selling health-care products to its members, and consumer advocates denounced it as “a classic election-year giveaway.” Some experts predicted a revolt among the elderly once the plan takes effect in 2006 and the true costs of reform become clear.New York TimesGovernor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California proposed cutbacks in therapy for the mentally disabled and in AIDS and poverty programs.New York TimesAdministration officials let it be known that President Bush has decided to back down and repeal his illegal tariffs on foreign steel in order to avoid a trade war with Europe and Japan.Washington TimesBoeing forced its chairman and CEO, Phil Condit, to resign just one week after his chief financial officer was fired for unethical conduct in the hiring of the Air Force’s head of procurement.GuardianPresident Bush showed up in Iraq for Thanksgiving wearing an Armytracksuit; Bush stayed in the country for two and a half hours, the same amount of time spent by President Lyndon B. Johnson in Vietnam, in 1966.New York TimesA poultry expert in Oregon denied that turkeys are dumb.Associated PressBird-watchers rediscovered the long-legged warbler, a bird that had been thought extinct, on Viti Levu, a Fijian island.Birdlife InternationalIt was revealed that the Queen of England often eats cornflakes for breakfast out of a Tupperware container and that Prince Andrew loves to play jokes on the servants, especially by hiding a puppet called Monkey in a different place every day.New York TimesPrince Edward and his wife, Sophie, decided, three weeks after the premature birth of their daughter, to name her Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary Mountbatten-Windsor.New York TimesPrime Minister Tony Blair had a stomach ache.New York Times
U.S. forces fought a major battle with guerrillas in Samarra and killed up to 54 Iraqis; American officials said the casualties were members of the Fedayeen but local residents said that most were civilians who fought back in self-defense.GuardianSeven Spanish intelligence agents were killed near Baghdad, andReuterslocal youths were observed kicking the bodies, dancing in the streets, and praising Saddam Hussein.New York TimesTwo Japanese diplomats died near Tikrit.ReutersOccupation officials noticed that the Iraqi guerrillas are spying on them, andNew York TimesLt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said that some U.S.-trained Iraqipolicemen had carried out attacks on occupation forces.ReutersL. Paul Bremer, the American proconsul, declared that the situation in Iraq is getting better all the time.New York TimesThe U.S. military decided to release Captain James Yee, the Muslim chaplain, formerly assigned to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who was arrested three months ago and accused of being some kind of Muslim spy. Officials said that Yee might still face charges for keeping pornography on his computer and for having an extramarital affair.New York TimesIt was revealed that Neil Bush, the president’s brother, has admitted to enjoying the sexual favors of strange women who simply knocked on his door while he was visiting Thailand; Bush said he didn’t know whether the women were prostitutes but noted that they did not ask for money.ReutersGeorgia’s new rulers, who overthrew Eduard Shevardnadze because they were tired of living in one of the most corrupt nations on earth, began hiring their friends and relatives for important government positions.New York TimesGeneral Tommy Franks told a cigar magazine that the United States could become a military dictatorship if terrorists ever use weapons of mass destruction.NewsmaxThe Bush Administration approved a research project to develop low-yield bunker-busting nuclear weapons, or “mini-nukes.”The ObserverAmerican security consultants were using Iraqi guerrillas to test nonstandard “limited-penetration” ammunition that punctures steel but shatters when it hits “soft targets” and creates untreatable wounds.Army Times
Advanced Digital Solutions announced that it has developed a system to use subdermal implants to make credit-card payments using radio frequency identification, or RFID. Privacy advocates were not amused: “If we establish a robust credit-card network based on RFID chips implanted under the skin,” said one, “we are also creating the infrastructure for potential government surveillance.”New ScientistA Wal-Mart shopper in Orange City, Florida, was trampled and knocked unconscious during a stampede at a Wal-Mart Supercenter; the stampede occurred at the 6 a.m. opening of a big sale. The victim, who was first in line, was found clutching a DVD player.Daytona Beach News-Journal, New York TimesClinical trials of an “orgasmatron” were underway in North Carolina.New ScientistThe Recording Industry Association of America was seeking a permanent exemption to antitrust lawsuits.The RegisterA Ku Klux Klan member was accidentally shot in the head during an initiation ceremony in Tennessee, though the initiate, who was tied to a tree with a noose and shot with paint pellets, was unharmed.Associated PressJohn A. Muhammad was sentenced to die for his role in the Washington-area sniper killings, andAssociated Press two 16-year-olds in Texas were arrested for plotting to kill 24 people at their high school.New York TimesIsraeli customs officials confiscated 400 singing and dancing Osama bin Ladendolls as well as 50 that looked like Saddam Hussein.ReutersAstronauts on board the international space station reported hearing a weird noise, and scientistsAssociated Pressfigured out how to make trees grow faster.Associated PressResearchers in Australia were preparing to test a new ultra-convenient female contraceptive spray, andNew Scientistinfectious-disease experts suggested that Alexander the Great died of West Nile fever.Nature.comA serial horse rapist was on the loose in Bigfork, Montana.Bigfork Eagle
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. â€śIâ€™m going to put order,â€ť she said, â€śin that big brothel which is Congress.â€ť
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â€śCivilization masks us with a screen, from ourselves and from one another, with thin depth of unreality. We habitually liveÂ â€” do we not?Â â€” in a world self-created, half established, of false values arbitrarily upheld, largely inspired by misconception, misapprehension, wrong perspective, and defective proportion, misapplication.â€ť