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In Iraq, the bodies of fifty Shiite hostages, some mutilated or headless, were pulled from the Tigris river, and the bodies of nineteen Iraqi soldiers were found in a soccer stadium in the city of Haditha. A suicide bomber tried to assassinate Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi,Los Angeles Timesand Iraqi militants shot down a commercial helicopter, killing ten passengers; they then shot the sole survivor, the helicopter’s Bulgarian pilot, and distributed a video of the shooting on the Internet.ABC NewsIn Tehran, around 400 Iranians signed up to become suicide bombers. “As a Muslim, it is my duty,” said a mother of two, “to sacrifice my life for oppressed Palestinianchildren.”ReutersFifty-one people died in a mine explosion in Zambia.ReutersOne million people marched to support the mayor of Mexico City,Knight Ridderand Lucio Gutierrez, the recently ousted president of Ecuador, fled to Brazil to avoid arrest.BBC NewsJapanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi publicly apologized for the “tremendous damage and suffering” caused by Japan’s actions prior to and during World War II,BBC Newsand a study by the Union Hospital in Hong Kong found that Chinese men have normal-sized penises.ReutersThe zookeepers in Ramat Gan, Israel, fed their gorillaskosher matzo crackers for Passover.NewsdayScientists discovered the remains of a previously unknown Tyrannosaurus Rex-like dinosaur, Appalachiosaurus montgomeriensis, that roamed through the American South 77 million years ago,New York Timesand SenatorBill Frist of Tennessee asked Christian conservatives to help him end filibusters.New York TimesTexas legislators were considering a bill that would ban gay people from taking in foster children,USA Todayand Ken Ferree, the new president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, said that he wanted to make PBS appealing to conservatives.Editor & PublisherWalter Cronkite was planning to start a blog.New York Times
Many people thought that a stain on a wall in Chicago was actually a miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary,Reutersand Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who belonged to the Hitler Youth before he became a priest, won the papacy by a landslide and styled himself Benedict XVI. The new pope dislikes homosexuality (he moved quickly to condemn a Spanish bill that would permit gays to marry), abortion, and the death penalty, but he loves little kittens. In 2001, he ordered Catholic bishops to hide allegations against pedophile priests from the public.BBC NewsNew York Daily NewsThe ObserverA woman in Afghanistan was stoned to death for adultery.BBC NewsIt was revealed that Condoleezza Rice ordered a German citizen released from an American-supervised prison in Afghanistan after it was determined that the man had been wrongly detained and tortured.SMH.com.auRice also ordered a State Department report on terrorism be stripped of statistics that showed that terrorist attacks were on the rise.Philly.comThe Yankees sucked.Delaware OnlineA rabbi had a fistfight with a man wearing a swastikaT-shirt in the Kansas City, Missouri, airport,Kansas.comand a Vietnam veteran spit tobacco juice in Jane Fonda’s face.ReutersThe Mesa, Arizona, police department applied for funding to buy and train a tiny monkey that they can dress in a kevlar vest and send into dangerous situations.APLieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez and his top three aides were cleared of all wrongdoing in the Abu Ghraib case,BBC Newsand a United Nations investigator in Afghanistan who criticized the abuse of prisoners by United States Army personnel was forced out of his role under pressure from the United States.The IndependentFormer president George Bush and Bill Clinton were becoming even better friends. “I’m enjoying the relationship,” said the President, “and to be honest with you I didn’t think I would.”Reuters
The Transportation Security Agency was in trouble for furnishing an operations office, intended for seventy-nine employees, with expensive kitchen equipment, a fitness center with towel service, and tens of thousands of dollars in silk flowers.ReutersVenezuela ended military operations and exchanges with the United States,Reutersand the Venezuelan government announced “Operation Dulcinea,” which will distribute one million copies of the novel Don Quixote to the public. “We’re still oppressed by giants,” said the Venezuelan minister of culture.BBC News In Japan, a commuter train derailed and smashed into an apartment building, killing at least seventy-one people and injuring hundreds.New York TimesAn American businessman spent $802,600 over the Internet to buy a house in India; when he arrived in New Delhi, he found that the house he was promised was actually the Prime Minister’s residence.ReutersElections were held in Togo, followed by street battles and at least three deaths.Street battles follow Togo pollConnecticut voted to allow gay civil unions,365Gay.comand the Navajo Nation banned both uranium mining and gay marriage from its reservation.MSNBCABC NewsA Fresno, California, man was standing trial for killing nine of his children, seven of whom he fathered with his own daughters and nieces. “Jesus was a womanizer,” he explained.CourtTV.comSoot was darkening China’s skies,New York Timesand in the Antarctic, iceberg B15A, the largest moving object on earth, crashed into the Drygalski ice tongue, breaking off three square miles of ice.Los Angeles TimesA woman in Burma was breastfeeding three tiger cubs,ReutersZimbabweans barbecued nine elephants,The Independentand Germantoads were exploding for unknown reasons.AFP
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.”