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Car bombers, suicide attackers, and kidnappers in Iraq were exceptionally busy, killing dozens to protest the country’s impending election,New York Timesand a video showed two Iraqis being beheaded for delivering food and supplies to an American base in Ramadi.CNNThe interim government announced that to minimize insurgent attacks, curfews would be extended, traffic restricted, national borders sealed for three days, and the locations of polling stations would be kept secret until the night before the vote.BBCThe Iraqi government arrested an ally of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who was responsible for more than thirty car bombs since the invasion.BBCAl-Zarqawi released a tape declaring war on anyone participating in the election and noting that democracy is a “big American lie” incompatible with the rule of God because it allows adherents to choose their religion. He worried about the lost honor of the Iraqis: “Have you accepted oppression of the crusader harlots and the rejectionist pigs?”CNNGeorge W. Bush was sworn in again as president, and threatened to bring “the untamed fire of freedom” to the world. In his 20-minute speech the president used the words “free,” “freedom,” and “liberty” 49 times, but never said “war” or “Iraq.”Washington PostProtesters threw snowballs.New York Daily NewsNorwegians were shocked to see the president and his family repeatedly give the University of Texas “hook ‘em, ‘horns” sign, which they interpreted as a salute to Satan, during the festivities, and sign-language users pointed out that the sign means “bullshit.”New York Daily NewsAPA reverse-speech expert played Bush’s inaugural address backwards and heard the messages “Hero’s gonna shell Iran” and “Bombs will make laws.”Wireless FlashA poll of thousands of people in 21 countries revealed that just 26 percent consider Bush a positive global force. Three quarters of respondents in France and Germany and 64 percent of Britons felt that U.S. actions would have a negative impact on the world, and for the first time it appeared that an international dislike of Bush is metamorphosing into a dislike of Americans in general. The three countries that approved of Bush’s reelection were the Philippines, Poland, and India.The GuardianGerman police were searching for the those responsible for sticking miniature American flags into thousands of piles of dog excrement in public parks over the last year.Ananova
A survivor of the Indian Ocean tsunami was found in his underwear eating coconuts on a tiny island 25 days after the tsunami hit.BBCThe number of deaths attributed to the tsunami increased to 220,000, with about 3,500 corpses still being recovered daily in some areas.BBCLooters were running rampant in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.New York TimesBoth Al Qaeda factionsNew York Daily Newsand American evangelical groups were exploiting the ensuing chaos to recruit new members,New York Timesand Condoleezza Rice was thinking that the tsunami presented a “wonderful opportunity” for the U.S. to make friends in Asia.Los Angeles Daily NewsRice, the presumptive secretary of state, began her Senate confirmation hearings, during which she refused to say whether such acts as “water boarding,” in which an interrogation subject is made to believe he will drown, can be defined as torture.CNNThe military confirmed that 23 Guantánamo Bay prisoners attempted mass suicide in August 2003 to protest their detention.MSNBCThree British soldiers were court-martialed for mistreatingIraqis who were detained for stealing food and powdered milk, and photos emerged showing naked prisoners forced to feign sex acts and soldiers simulating beatings; one captive was wrapped in netting and suspended from a forklift, and one was forced to lie on the street as a soldier stood on him, pretending to surf. The images were discovered by a British photo lab technician after a soldier dropped off the film for processing.CNNThai officials were planning to set up a webcam in a notorious Bangkok prison to broadcast prisoners’ daily lives and the moments before their executions as a deterrent against drug crimes, but Amnesty International pointed out that most criminals are poor and without Internet access.BBCTwelve thousand people fled their homes in Concepcion, Chile, after three pranksters ran through a beach shouting that a tsunami was approaching.New York TimesA 66-year-old woman gave birth in Romania.New York TimesHours after an Italian man killed himself because his wife had been in a coma for four months, she woke up.ReutersJohnny Carson died.New York 1 News
The day after he was sworn in as president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas asked militants to refrain from violence so as not to “provide excuses to Israel” to attack Palestinians. Two hours later a suicide bomber killed one Israeli and wounded seven, and Ariel Sharon ordered a new crackdown on factions in Gaza.New York Daily NewsIsraeli researchers found that ultra-Orthodox Jews are three times as likely to jaywalk as those in secular communities.New ScientistScientists learned that it sometimes rains liquid methane on Saturn’s moon Titan, and a probe penetrating the moon’s thin crust revealed that the chemicals, pebbles, and ice within it is akin to creme brulee in texture. The researchers speculated that after life becomes impossible on Earth, temperatures will rise on Titan and its ice will melt, releasing oxygen that might support life.The GuardianScientists theorized that instead of an asteroid, global warming caused by volcanic activity precipitated the Great Dying, the most extensive mass extinction in the planet’s history 250 million years ago.The Globe and MailHundreds of jumbo squid were washing up on beaches in California.CNNThe World Health Organization warned that the bird flu virus endemic in Asia was mutating in such a way that it could cause a major, overdue human influenza outbreak with a “best case scenario” of 2 million to 7 million deaths.ReutersBritish scientists announced that they had developed a printer capable of producing human skin to supplant traditional skin grafts: after skin cells are taken from a patient’s body and multiplied, the machine prints out a perfectly matched strip of cells onto a dissolvable plastic surface, which is then surgically attached to the patient’s wound.Manchester OnlineLawrence Summers, the president of Harvard, spent the week apologizing for publicly musing that women were innately less capable at science and math than men.New York TimesA cartoonist was sentenced by a Greek court to six months in prison for depicting Jesus as a pot-smoking hippie.AnanovaChristian groups warned that SpongeBob SquarePants was an insidious weapon being used to promote acceptance of homosexuality in a music video made for elementary schools. The video teaches children cooperation and tolerance and also features Barney, Winnie the Pooh, and Bob the Builder.CNNThousands of nocturnal frogs were shrieking loudly in Honolulu.USA Today
More from Margaret Cordi:
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