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China announced that Hong Kong will not be allowed to elect its next leader in 2007, contrary to the city’s Basic Law, which was enacted when Britain turned over the territory in 1997; China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress said that an election would create social and economic instability. Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong’s current chief executive, called on the people to remain “calm and rational.”BBCThe Bush Administration continued to insist that sovereignty will be turned over to an Iraqi government on June 30 but revealed for the first time that the sovereign will be unable to make new laws or command the armed forces.New York TimesPictures of American coffins returning from Iraq finally became public after a website received them via a Freedom of Information Act request.The Memory HoleBob Woodward’s new book continued to shape the news; it was the source of accusations that the Bush Administration improperly diverted funds to prepare for the conquest of Iraq, and that Saudi Arabia promised President Bush to deliver low fuel prices to help with his reelection.New York TimesGeneral Electric and Siemens, two large contractors in Iraq, suspended most of their operations in the country.New York TimesSuicide attacks continued; in Basra dozens of people were killed, including more than 20 children who were on their way to school.New York TimesSuicide bombers attacked a government building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, andNew York TimesAmerican troops in Fallujah were playing AC/DC’s album Back in Black very loudly to annoy gunmen. The troops were also broadcasting Arabic insults, such as “you shoot like a goat herder.”Associated Press
A railway station exploded in North Korea soon after Kim Jong Il, on his way home from China, passed through in his special armored train, which was a gift to his father from Joseph Stalin; much of the surrounding community was damaged or destroyed.New York TimesThere was a train wreck under New York City near Penn Station, and federalNew York Timesauthorities confirmed that a man in Westchester County, New York, contracted avian flu last fall; there was no evidence that he was ever in direct contact with birds.New York TimesThe House of Representatives approved a bill providing for quick elections if 100 or more members are killed at one time.CBS NewsDiebold Election Systems was in trouble again for using insecure software in its voting machines in California.Associated PressPro-government militias in Sudan continued to slaughter people in Darfur, andBBCUnicef released a report on slavery in Africa concluding that the practice continues in every country on the continent.BBCEstée Lauder died.New York TimesThe editor of USA Today resigned in a scandal over a star reporter who made up his stories.USA TodayPrime Minister Tony Blair of Britain announced a referendum on the proposed European constitution, and 50BBCformer senior British diplomats signed a letter denouncing Tony Blair for following American policies in Iraq and Israel that are “doomed to failure.”Financial TimesMordecai Vanunu, the scientist who exposed Israel’snuclear-weapons program, was released from prison after 18 years, 11 of which were in solitary confinement. Israel has maintained an official policy of “nuclear ambiguity” even though Vanunu confirmed that the country possesses weapons of mass destruction.New York Times
Scientists at NASA were ordered not to speak to reporters about The Day After Tomorrow, a disaster movie in which global warming triggers an ice age, because officials were worried about political damage to the president, who has refused to take the threat of climate change seriously.New York TimesMore than one million abortion-rights advocates marched in Washington, D.C., and vowed to defeat President Bush in November.Washington PostAdministration lawyers asked a judge to prevent a former FBI translator from testifying in a lawsuit brought by families of September 11 victims; the translator told the 9/11 commission that the government had considerable evidence months before the attacks that Al Qaeda was planning to use aircraft as weapons in the United States.IndependentAgriculture officials were still trying to convince Japan to drop its ban on American beef that has not been tested for mad cow disease.Seattle TimesSARS returned to China, and dozensNew Scientistof Chinese babies died of malnutrition after they were fed counterfeit formula.BBCGovernor Rick Perry of Texas proposed shifting the burden of school financing in the state from property taxes to sin taxes on gambling, alcohol, and stripping.New York TimesIt was discovered that pheromones that mimic those emitted by lactating bitches soothe misbehaving dogs by reminding them of their puppyhoods, andNew ScientistMichael Jackson was indicted for child molestation.New York TimesPolice in Mexico arrested a tamale vendor after a dead body was found in his home.New York TimesKing Carl Gustav of Sweden, who is exempt from prosecution, was seen driving his yellow Porsche around in southern Sweden at speeds well over 100 mph.New York TimesIn Cape Town, South Africa, a man survived a 19-story fall from a hotel window, and aNew York Timeshighly radioactive nuclear fuel rod was missing in Vermont.Associated PressThe CEO of McDonald’s dropped dead of a heart attack.Reuters
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