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Chaos continued to rule Iraq; a suicide bomber killed at least 13 people when he attacked a convoy of civilian contractors in Baghdad, whereupon a mob descended on the wreckage and set it on fire under the watchful eyes of Iraqi policemen; on the same day other bombs killed eight people.International Herald TribuneAt least 35 Iraqis were killed and 145 were wounded in a suicide car bombing at an army recruiting office in Baghdad; elsewhere six people were killed in another bombing.Chicago TribuneOil exports from Iraq’s main oil terminal were shut down because of two explosions, at least one of which was caused by a bombing. Officials said that the cost of the shutdown could reach $1 billion.San Jose Mercury NewsPresident Bush said that “life is better” in Iraq.New York TimesPrime Minister Iyad Allawi asked the United States to please hand over all its prisoners, including Saddam Hussein, by June 30, as required by international law, and he also asked the Americans to please return the Republican Palace, which they were planning to use as part of the huge new American embassy complex.New York TimesAmerican officials said that they would probably keep Saddam Hussein anyway, along with about 5,000 other prisoners.Associated PressDonald Rumsfeld admitted that he personally ordered that an Iraqi prisoner be concealed from the Red Cross, a practice that Gen. Anthony Taguba has described as “deceptive, contrary to Army doctrine, and in violation of international law.” Seven months later, the “ghost” prisoner had still not been interrogated, aside from a cursory session when he first arrived at Camp Cropper.Reuters, New York TimesPresident Bush said: “I’m never disappointed in my secretary of defense.”Washington PostThe president held a news conference and said that Afghanistan represents the “first victory in the war on terror”; meanwhile, heavy fighting with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other forces continued, an official from the Ministry of Refugees and Rehabilitation was assassinated outside his home,New York TimesAl Jazeera broadcast what it said was an Al Qaeda training video recently shot at an Afghan camp, and aAssociated Pressremote-controlled roadside bomb in Kunduz hit a NATO vehicle, killing four people, including two schoolchildren.New York TimesThe Vatican announced that the Inquisition wasn’t really all that bad.Associated Press
The 9/11 commission released two staff reports concluding that there is no credible evidence that Iraq ever entered into an alliance with Al Qaeda; the commission also detailed for the first time the surprising level of confusion and miscommunication among top administration officials on the day of the attacks.New York Times“The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and Al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda,” said President Bush at a news conference.Washington PostDick Cheney responded to the reports by attacking the New York Times, andNew York Timessaid that he “probably” had access to better intelligence information than the 9/11 commission; the commission chairmen then called on Cheney to provide them with any documents that could substantiate his claims.New York TimesThe CIA classified most of a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the agency’s failures and mistakes leading up to the invasion of Iraq.ReutersMoktada al-Sadr told his fighters to disarm and go home and said that he planned to enter Iraqi politics.Agence France-PresseA civilian contractor from North Carolina who worked for the CIA was indicted for beating a detainee to death in Afghanistan, andNew York TimesU.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan criticized the United States for seeking to extend immunity for American peacekeeping troops from the International Criminal Court.NewsdaySaudi militants beheaded an American hostage, andReutersWhite House council Alberto Gonzales testified before the grand jury investigating the Valerie Plame affair.New York TimesSinn Fein won a seat in the European Parliament.ReutersProtesting power workers cut off President Jacques Chirac’s electricity.New York TimesPresident Bill Clinton published a memoir, and itWashington Postwas discovered that California ground squirrels heat up their tails to intimidate snakes.Nature.com
Attorney General John Ashcroft, perhaps worried about his recent bad press, announced that the FBI has a new terrorist in custody, a Somali man who was arrested in November, and said that he planned to blow up a shopping mall in Ohio. The purported terrorist was linked to another purported terrorist who allegedly planned to cut the cables on the Brooklyn Bridge.New York TimesIn Los Angeles, an intruder cut off the head of Robert Lees, a 92-year-old former screenwriter (of Abbot and Costello comedies), then ran next door, head in hand, and fatally stabbed a neighbor.ReutersThe Senate refused to increase penalties for companies that overcharge for work done in Iraq, and itNew York Timesagreed to expand the federal definition of hate crimes to include those committed because of “sexual orientation, gender or disability” but defeated a measure that would have eliminated funding for research into “bunker busting” mini-nukes.New York TimesA team of British scientists applied for permission to clone human embryos for stem-cell research.GuardianIn South Africa, a man testified in court that he had killed an interior designer because she “did not make any nice comments about my place, so I went to my garage and fetched an axe.”ReutersTwo separate teams of scientists reported that they had successfully teleported individual atoms a fraction of a millimeter.New York TimesNew strains of Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria were found in eight countries; Vancomycin is considered the antibiotic of last resort.New ScientistScientists concluded that men are less sensitive than women and that testosterone is to blame, and aNature.comJapanese inventor unveiled a new invisibility cloak using a material made of thousands of tiny beads called “retro-reflectum.”BBCThe USDA reclassified frozen French fries as “fresh vegetables.”Los Angeles Times
More from Roger D. Hodge:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
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 naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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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.”