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The U.S. Senate subpoenaed Terri Schiavo, a woman who has been in a persistent vegetative state since 1991, to testify before the Health, Education, and Labor Committee. The subpoena was intended to make it impossible for Schiavo to be taken off the feeding tube that allows her to survive; the order, however, was defied by a Florida judge, and the feeding tube was removed. Schiavo then began to die of dehydration. The House and Senate held emergency sessions in order to pass a bill that would transfer the case from state court to federal court. The bill was then signed by President George W. Bush, who had flown in from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, for the occasion.WikipediaSchiavo’s husband, who wants to let her die, wondered why Congress was expending so much energy on the case. “Why doesn’t Congress worry about people not having health insurance?” he asked. “Or the budget? Let’s talk about all the children who don’t have homes.” Schiavo described House Majority leader Tom DeLay, who is leading the fight to reinsert Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube, as a “little slithering snake.”The Terri Schiavo CaseGlobal warming was melting the glaciers in the Himalayas,BBC Newsand a snow festival in Arctic Greenland was cancelled due to a heat wave.ReutersThe Senate passed a resolution that will permit drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,The New York Timesand Americans celebrated the second birthday of the war in Iraq.As soldiers in Apache helicopters and Humvees kept watch, the National Assembly of Iraq held its first meeting. Two hundred and seventy-five members met at a convention center on the Tigris River while explosions rattled the convention center’s windows. North of Baghdad, a suicide car bomber killed three members of the Iraqi National Guard and wounded eleven.The New York TimesIraqibarbers were being killed because they gave Western-style haircuts and cut off beards,New York Timesand Italy announced that it would start withdrawing its troops from Iraq in September.The New York TimesGeorge W. Bush recommended Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank, describing him as a “compassionate, decent man,”The New York Timesand a television exploded in Egypt, killing four children.National Post
The Department of Homeland Security was preparing for: the detonation of a ten-kiloton nuclear device; a biological attack with aerosolized anthrax; an outbreak of pneumonic plague; a flu pandemic starting in south China; the spraying of a chemical blister agent over a football stadium; an attack on an oil refinery; the explosion of a tank of chlorine; a 7.2-magnitude earthquake; a major hurricane in a metropolitan area; three Cesium-137 dirty bombs going off in three different cities, each contaminating thirty-six city blocks; the detonation of improvised bombs in sports stadiums and emergency rooms; liquid anthrax in ground beef; a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak; and a cyber attack on the nation’s financial infrastructure.The New York TimesEdeka, a German supermarket chain, announced that shoppers would soon be able to pay using their fingerprints,Reutersand Bernard Ebbers, the former chief executive of WorldCom, was convicted of securities fraud, conspiracy, and seven counts of filing false reports.New York TimesMartha Stewart was finding her ankle bracelet to be both “uncomfortable and irritating.”ReutersKofi Annan proposed to expand the U.N. security council to twenty-four members,[Link]and China took steps to stop an invasion of red ants.ReutersA North Carolinadentist was in trouble for filling syringes with his semen and squirting it into the mouths of several female patients.APBobby Short died, as did John DeLorean,The New York Timesand Scott Peterson was sentenced to death.The New York Times
In Malawi, two journalists were arrested for reporting that President Bingu wa Mutharika was scared of ghosts,Reutersand the Washington state legislature was trying to decide whether to classify goat-napping as a misdemeanor or a felony.The Seattle TimesAngry at a corrupt election, Kyrgyzstani protesters took over municipal buildings in the city of Osh,BBC Newsand Ukraine revealed that, between 1999 and 2001, local arms dealers had smuggled eighteen nuclear-capable Kh-55 cruise missiles to Iran and China.BBC NewsA group of researchers at Stanford University were preparing to use stem cells from aborted fetuses to create a mouse that has human brain cells,News.telegraphand a British cannibal was imprisoned for life.BBC NewsThe Pentagon admitted that many of the prisoners who have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 were victims of criminal homicide.The New York TimesThe pope, too ill to perform Palm Sunday mass, waved an olive branch from his apartment window,BBC Newsand police in York, Pennsylvania, arrested a fifty-three-year-old serial sheepmolester in a barn. The man said he was just petting the sheep, even though it was 3 A.M., it was not his barn, and he had baler’s twine in his back pocket, which can be used to bind sheep.York Sunday NewsPeople were selling their bodies to advertisers as display space. LA TimesSoutheast of Baghdad, U.S. troops killed twenty-six Iraqi militants,Christian Science Monitorand police in Florida arrested a five-year-old girl at her kindergarten, binding her hands with plastic ties and placing handcuffs around her ankles. The girl, who weighs forty pounds, was upset about some jelly beans. “They set my baby up,” said her mother.APAlan Greenspan related that when he needs inspiration prior to giving a speech, he turns on a large fan, strips naked, and takes a nice hot bath.The New York Daily NewsA magnitude-7.0 earthquake hit Japan,Christian Science Monitortornadoes struck Bangladesh,BBC Newsand floods in Afghanistan killed more than two hundred people.BBC NewsPollution has killed all but thirteen river dolphins in China’s Yangtze River.BBC NewsThe United Nations estimated that 180,000 people have died in Darfur since October 2003,USA Todayand municipal workers in Buffalo, New York, were asked to provide their own toilet paper at work due to a budget crisis.Boston.comA Wisconsin woman rammed her car into a Catholic church after deciding that God does not exist; her car was destroyed, but the church was unharmed.Milwaukee Journal-SentinelEvangelical Christians from the United States and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel were working together to stop homosexuals from marching through Jerusalem,Haaretzand a woman in Zimbabwe testified that she had paid an advisor $5,000 to fly four invisible mermaids, named Emma, Charmaine, Sharvine, and Bella, from London to Zimbabwe.Boston.comSatan’s face appeared on a turtle’s shell in Indiana,Boston.comand a judge in Pennsylvania refused to let two first cousins marry.Boston.comUnited Statesgas prices reached a record high,Christian Science Monitorand a woman in India committed suicide so that her two blind sons could each receive one of her eyes. Doctors said there was little chance that such a transplant would work.Reuters
More from Paul Ford:
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.”