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A suicide bomber set off a bomb at a mess tent on a U.S. base in Mosul, killing 22 and wounding 69. Among the dead were 13 American soldiers and four employees and subcontractors of Halliburton. A spokeswoman for Halliburton called for a full investigation into the attack. South of Kirkuk, insurgents set an oil well on fire,AP and south of Baghdad, an explosives-rigged gas tanker blew up, killing at least eight.AP Families returned to the bombed-out city of Falluja and found little clean water.APAPDonald Rumsfeld made a surprise trip to Mosul on Christmas Eve.New York TimesimesRumsfeld, under criticism for having his condolence letters to the families of dead American soldiers signed by an automatic pen, said he stays “awake at night for concern for those at risk.”SFGate The ACLU circulated memos, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, that suggest President George W. Bush directly authorized torture against detainees in Iraq.ACLUTony Blair toured the Middle East, and called for a peace summit in London. The United States and Israel both told him to cut it out.Scotsman.com Wall Street firms were quietly preparing for the privatization of Social Security,New York Timesimes the Bush Administration changed federal forest regulations to cut down on “wasteful and time-consuming” environmental impact statements,LATimes and the dollar fell to $1.3505 against the euro.BBC Yusuf Halacoglu, president of the Turkish History Institution, accused Armenia of genocide.Zaman Online A new species of monster cockroach was discovered in Indonesia,Al Jazeera a bomb killed two and wounded eight outside a bank in Thailand,Al Jazeera and Cuba discovered a new crude oil deposit off the coast near Havana.Newsday A man in Calcutta was killed when his co-workers at a rubber factory playfully inserted the tube of an air pump into his anus, andTelegraph India the Pope defrocked Maurice Blackwell, a Baltimore-area priest; in 2002, Blackwell was shot and wounded by an altar boy he allegedly molested.Sign On San Diego John G. Rowland, the former governor of Connecticut, pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy.New York Timesimes The Democrats were thinking of dropping abortion rights from their platform, in order to appeal to “values” voters; many Democratic leaders want to promote adoption over abortion.LA TimesAdoptees and adoptive parents were calling on Fox TV to stop the broadcast of a game show called “Who’s Your Daddy,” in which an adopted woman has to pick her biological father from a line-up; she wins a prize if she picks correctly.ReutersEastern Rite, Roman, and Protestant Christian churches celebrated Christmas,Wikipedia and on Christmas day, 30,000 air passengers were stranded across the United States because of a computer crash.Fox News The United States cut back on international food aid, a change that will affect five to seven million people in Indonesia, Malawi, Madagascar, and other countries.IHT It snowed in Texas,Fox News and male fish in the Potomac river were producing eggs.AP
A 9.0 magnitude earthquake created a tsunami that ravaged south and southeast Asia, as well as parts of Africa.New York Timesimes The wave reached from Somalia and Kenya to Malaysia. Thousands of fatalities were reported in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, South India, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.Wikipedia Three-story waves washed sunbathers into the sea, carried away snorkelers, and swallowed up Hindu ritual bathers celebrating Full Moon Day. A prison in Sumatra was torn open by the tsunami, and hundreds of inmates fled. A baby was washed from her father’s arms.New York Timesimes At least 25,000 died, and millions were displaced.MSNBC Entire towns were turned into rubble. Corpses hung from trees and fences, and the rotting bodies of humans and animals threatened to pollute water supplies.Reuters It was difficult to bury the dead for lack of dry ground.MSNBC The earthquake was the largest since 1964, and slightly altered the rotation of the earth.New York Timesimes Other quakes were felt in India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands.INQ7.net Viktor Yushchenko, his face still disfigured from dioxin poisoning, appeared to have won the presidency of the Ukraine over Viktor Yanukovich.New York Timesimes A mentally ill man went on a stabbing rampage in London, killing one and injuring five,Guardian and the UK’s National Health Service was running low on painkillers.GuardianReggie White died.New York TimesimesStrike Holdings, which manages several bowling alleys in the United States, decided to return the investments it received from the Palestinian Authority,The Guardian and 10,000 people were dying each month in Darfur.CNN
A poll showed that 56 percent of Americans believe the Iraq war is “not worth fighting.”Washington Post Another poll showed that 44 percent of Americans believe that Muslims should have their civil liberties curtailed; 27 percent favor registration of Muslims, and 29 percent believe that law enforcement agencies should infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations. Cornell A third poll showed that three-quarters of Iraqis intend to vote in upcoming elections; 41 percent incorrectly believe that they are voting for an Iraqi president.Omaha.com Polls also showed that “Stairway to Heaven” was the greatest rock song of all time,AFP that Britney Spears was the number one star in America,Irish Examiner that teens were smoking less, butAP are increasingly likely to abuse the painkiller OxyContin,USA Today that gay people make more cell phone calls,Gaywire that the best part of Christmas is family time,Georgetown News-Graphic and that nearly three quarters of doctors believe in miracles.WorldNetDaily Studies showed that doctors were much more likely to kill themselves than the general population,The Times of India that doctors talk less when treating white patients than they do when treating black patients,AJC.com that lung cancer runs in families,MSNBC that parents enjoy a visit with Santa more than their children do,Guardian and that the terminally ill do not, as is commonly believed, hold on to life until major events, like birthdays or holidays, transpire. Rather, they simply die.Reuters Other studies found that more Americans die on Christmas and the day after New Year’s than on any other day of the year,Yahoo News that meditation improves heart health,KSL TV that gastric bypass surgery is more effective than dieting for the severely obese,AFP that half of American food goes to waste,Food Navigator USA that the number of starvingIraqi children has nearly doubled in the last 21 months,USA Today and that young owls learn new skills more quickly than do old owls.This is London Another study showed that 22 percent of medical devices were not adequately studied.Boston.comItalian police used computer software to create a composite sketch of Jesus Christ at age 12, based on the Shroud of Turin. The sketch shows that Christ had blue eyes, fair skin, and dirty blond hair.New York Timesimes The Siloam Pool, where Christ is said to have healed the blind (John 9:7), was discovered in Jerusalem,National Post and paralyzed rats, injected with brain cells culled from human embryos, were rising up and walking.AP A California company shipped its first cloned cat,Mercury NewsMartha Stewart called for prison reform,Forbes and NASA announced that a 400-meter asteroid had a good chance of striking the earth in 2029.NASA
More from Paul Ford:
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, Hill and Wang (N.Y.C.)
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. âThere was a âwoofâ sound,â said a witness, âlike falling on your face into your pillow.â
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âAmerican politics has often been an arena for angry minds.â