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Ten bombs blew up four commuter trains in Madrid during the morning rush hour on March 11, killing 200 people and wounding about 1,500. The Spanish government initially blamed Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, the Basque separatist group, but aNew York Times videotape soon emerged in which Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack . “This is an answer to your cooperation with the Bush criminals and their allies,” the tape said. Three days later, Spanish voters, who overwhelmingly opposed their government’s support of the Iraq war, turned out the ruling Popular Party in favor of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, which pledged to bring Spanish troops home from Iraq.Associated PressSeven American soldiers were killed in Iraq over the weekend; officials said that the Iraqi resistance has begun using more sophisticated tactics.Globe and MailPakistan tested a new long-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.New York TimesThe United States released five British citizens from the camps in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Britain held the men for less than a day before releasing them.New York TimesOne of the men charged that he was tortured physically and psychologically. “After a while, we stopped asking for human rights,” he said. “We wanted animal rights.”BBCTwo suicide bombers killed eight people in Ashdod, Israel.Associated PressCIA director George Tenet revealed that he has privately corrected Dick Cheney several times after the vice president publicly “misconstrued” intelligence.New York TimesThe Pentagon was still paying $340,000 a month to the Iraqi National Congress, the exile group that provided much of the discredited intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq, andNew York TimesPresident George W. Bush said that he would try to find time to answer all the questions of the federal commission investigating the September 11 attacks.New York TimesCriminal investigations of Halliburton for its war profiteering in Iraq were ongoing; the company has acknowledged that mistakes were made.Associated PressChina amended its constitution to say that “the state respects and preserves human rights.” Another amendment declared that “private property obtained legally shall not be violated.”Boston Globe, Cybercast NewsSaudi Arabia established its first nongovernmental human-rights group, and aNew York TimesGeorgia woman was arrested for trying to pass a fake $1 million bill at a Wal-Mart.Associated Press
Congressional Republicans were beginning to show signs of resistance to President Bush’s spendthrift policies. “We have been out of control for the last three years,” said Senator Trent Lott. “We kind of got a little carried away.”New York TimesIt was revealed that the Bush Administration threatened to fire the government’s chief Medicare actuary if he told Congress that the Medicare bill, which was passed in November by 5 votes, would cost more than $500 billion over 10 years, rather than the $395 billion the administration was claiming publicly.Knight-RidderCongress was investigating videos produced by the White House for local television news programs in which paid actors impersonate reporters and give flattering accounts of the new Medicare law.San Francisco ChronicleWhite House officials denied that the president was responsible for the record budget deficit.New York TimesIt was estimated that unfunded federal mandates will cost states more than $29 billion this year.Associated PressUCLA apologized for selling off body parts of people who donated their bodies to science.MSNBCIt was reported that the Army has been buying surplus cadavers and blowing them up in land-mine experiments.Times-PicayuneA new study of former child soldiers in Uganda found that 6 percent had seen a family member killed, 2 percent had killed a family member, and 27 percent had been obliged to drink their own urine.Sunday Monitor, LancetScientists were trying to develop artificial blood.New Scientist
The Union of Concerned Scientists reported that more than two thirds of conventional crops have been polluted with genetically modified material. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Biotechnology Industry Association said the report was unsurprising, and theIndependentGreat Britain approved the commercial cultivation of genetically modified maize.New ScientistCommission for Environmental Cooperation warned Mexico that its genetically precious native corn varieties are threatened by pollution from genetically modified corn.New York TimesThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that obesity was killing almost as many people as tobacco; poor diet and sloth were responsible for 400,000 deaths in 2000, or 16.6 percent of everyone who died; tobacco killed 435,000 people, or 18.1 percent.New York TimesThe British Nutrition Foundation reported that McDonald’s new Caesar salad with Chicken Premiere contains 18.4 grams of fat, whereas a cheeseburger contains only 11.5 grams.CNNThe House of Representatives passed the so-called cheeseburger bill, which if made law would grant immunity from lawsuits to restaurants, especially fast-food chains, that serve unhealthy food.New York TimesLuciano Pavarotti gave his last staged performance.Associated PressA study found that teenagers who vow to remain virgins were almost as likely to catch a venereal disease as normal teens.GuardianIn Penticton, British Columbia, a man cut off his penis and testicles and ran through the street naked, trailing blood, screaming, “Repent, repent, fornicators.”Calgary SunSwiss Re, the world’s second largest reinsurance company, warned that the costs of climate change could be $150 billion a year before long, with insurers facing $30-40 billion in annual claims. “There is a danger,” the company said in a report, “that human intervention will accelerate and intensify natural climate changes to such a point that it will become impossible to adapt our socio-economic system in time.”ReutersIt was reported that the permafrost is disappearing from the bogs of subarctic Sweden because of climate changes, resulting in large emissions of methane, which as a greenhouse gas is 25 times worse than carbon dioxide.Geophysical Research LettersHundreds of elk in Wyoming were dying of a strange disease.New York TimesThe stock market was down,Associated PressSwitzerland moved to legalize absinthe, andNews24.comPresident Vladimir Putin of Russia was reelected.Associated PressBritishchildren found a three-headed frog with six legs.BBC
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 Californiaâs 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 âinvasive,â âexotic,â âalienâ â 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 âindigenously Californianâ elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a âhome without its mother.â 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 âworldâs biggest selfies,â and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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âShelby 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.â