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George Bush delivered his State of the Union address.CNNHe said the country was “confident and strong,”CNNthen announced he would reduce or eliminate 150 government programs.The New York TimesHe called Social Security “a symbol of the trust between generations,” then discussed proposals for the reduction of its benefits and an increase in the retirement age.The New York TimesHe suggested that his tax cuts be enshrined in perpetuityThe New York Timesand that “the spending appetite” of the federal government should be restrained.CNNHe said he would “confront” Middle Eastern nations in the name of peace,CNNbut insisted the United States had “no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else.”BBC NewsBush described marriage as “a sacred institution and the foundation of society,”BBC Newsbut he failed to mention the mayor of New Paltz, New York, who stands accused of 27 counts of marrying gay people.NewsdayAlberto Gonzales was confirmed as attorney general, and Senator Arlen Specter described him as a man who had made it “up from the bootstraps without even boots.” Another senator dismissed accusations of Gonzales’s condoning torture as “exaggerated.”New York TimesThe King of Nepal said he was a proponent of multiparty democracy, then fired the government, sent troops to the house of the Prime Minister, and assumed direct ruling authority.The New York TimesCambodian opposition leaders were stripped of their parliamentary immunity and fled the country.BBC NewsJohn Kerry claimed that Osama bin Laden cost him the presidential election,The New York Timesand Howard Dean admitted that he hates Republicans.The Rush Limbaugh ShowThe New York TimesShiites claimed victory in the Iraqi election,The Los Angeles Timesthe Association of Sunni Scholars declared the vote illegitimate,The New York Timesand election officials confirmed that although Saddam Hussein was eligible to vote, he didn’t.Jerusalem PostIraq‘s president called the notion of a U.S. troop withdrawal “complete nonsense,”The Guardianand President Bush said that U.S. soldiers were “unrelenting in battle, unwavering in loyalty, unmatched in honor and decency, and every day they are making our nation more secure.”CNNHe also put the value of their death in combat at about $100,000.The Detroit Free Press
Condoleezza Rice insisted that attacking Iran was not on the U.S. agenda “at this point.”In ForumIsraeli and Palestinian leaders agreed to attend a peace summit in Egypt,CBC Newsand Hamas threatened “all-out martyrdom attacks” if raids and killings in the occupied territories did not stop.The GuardianDarfur’s violence and mass killings failed to qualify as genocide, according to a U.N. commission,The New York Timesand South Korea downgraded North Korea from “main enemy” to “military threat.”BBC NewsThe Irish Republican Army denied that it robbed banks, then said that it was no longer interested in disarming.SFGate.comSecretary of Homeland Security nominee Michael Chertoff said the government could not “protect everything, everywhere, every time,” and that he needed a staff member who “really understands computers.”Govexec.comScientists determined that sunlight helps fight cancer,The Australianthat barbecue causes it,SFGate.comthat overweight people have a stronger biological need to sit than others do, andRocklin And Roseville Todaythat rats are responsible beer drinkers.University of Florida NewsPicking up women was outlawed in Costa Rica.AnanovaThe telecommunications industry had merger fever,Forbesand the Pope caught the flu and was hospitalized.The New York TimesCable provider Adelphia entered the age of pornography,CNN Moneyand the Nashville police paid informants $120,000 to have sexual encounters with prostitutes.New York TimesConvicted murderer Michael Ross withdrew his offer to “volunteer” to allow Connecticut to execute him,Newsdayand a man and woman were arrested for beating, chaining, starving, and pulling out the fingernails of five children.ReutersLaura Bush explained that she likes fashion because it’s fun.The New York TimesSgt. Javal Davis, a former Abu Ghraib prison guard, pled guilty to charges of battery and dereliction of duty,The New York Timestwo Britishterrorism detainees chose to remain in prison rather than accept house arrest,The Guardianand a U.S. judge ruled that foreigners held in Guantánamo Bay had the right to challenge their detainment.The ScotsmanDonald Rumsfeld had a clear conscience.BBC News
Evolution was not being taught in many U.S. high schools,The New York Timesand teenagers in Texas were having more sex, a survey found.ReutersInvesting in Google was a good move.Newsfactor.comInvesting in Russian oil companies was not.The Financial TimesThirty-year-old actor Leonardo DiCaprio accepted a lifetime achievement award,Elitestv.comand rapper Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus was accused of sexual assault.Yahoo.comA Marine general described the pleasures of shooting Afghan men,NBC San Diegoand a gas leak killed the prime minister of Georgia.CBC NewsGood relations with Halliburton were more important to the U.S. Army than $2 billion in disputed bills.The New York TimesMalaysia’s Home Ministry gave illegal immigrants one last chance to leave the country before being whipped,BBC Newsand scientists learned that birds are not dumb.The International Herald TribuneSweden was considering raising taxes.The Financial TimesReporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward sold their Watergate reporting notes for $5 million,Reutersand a report showed that the former head of the New York Stock Exchange paid his personal assistant $240,000 a year.The Daily NewsThe founder of Habitat For Humanity was fired for sexual harassment,SFGate.comRichard “Kinky” Friedman announced he would run for governor of Texas,Local News Headlinesand the selection of a jury of Michael Jackson’s peers began.ReutersFrozen urine dropped from the sky in Scotland.The Daily Record
More from Theodore Ross:
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