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Peter Schoomaker, the Army’s top general, revealed that the United States was developing a plan to keep at least 100,000 soldiers in Iraq through 2009. Senator Chuck Hagel (R., Nebr.) called the plan “complete folly.” “It would further destabilize the Middle East,” he said. “It would give Iran more influence, it would hurt Israel, it would put our allies over there in Saudi Arabia and Jordan in a terrible position.”APAPPresident George W. Bush had yet to meet Iraq war protester Cindy Sheehan, even though Bush is on vacation and presumably has the time. “I think it’s important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say,” said Bush, “but I think it’s also important for me to get on with my life.”The Birmingham NewsIt was reported that Bush was losing his mind,Capitol Hill Blueand a man in Columbus, Georgia, was in trouble for smearing feces on his body and walking through a mall.Ledger-Enquirer.comA fourteen-year-old German boy was ordered to tear down the 300-foot-long roller coaster he had built in his back yard.AnanovaIn Iraq ten people were shot dead north of Baghdad, a family of five was killed by gunmen in Samarra, and the U.S. military denied bombing a wedding party in Hit.MSNBCReutersReutersIn Afghanistan four more U.S. soldiers were killed, bringing the year’s total to 65.The New York TimesIn Richmond, Virginia, a sale on used laptops led to 17 injuries and one woman wetting herself.AP
Secret documents revealed that Jean Charles De Menezes, the Brazilian electrician shot and killed as a terrorist by police on a London train, was not carrying any bags, was not wearing a bulky winter coat, and did not jump any turnstiles. He was, however, still shot seven times in the head.ITNVictoria Beckham, also known as Posh Spice, said that she had never read a book in her life, although she had written a 528-page autobiography.The GuardianA file folder describing the affirmative-action work of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts went missing from the Reagan Library after it was reviewed by White House lawyers, and it was revealed that Roberts had once refused a request from Michael Jackson for a special letter of commendation from the Reagan White House.The Washington PostBBC NewsA study found that white people tend to get better, more thorough health care than African-American people.The Washington PostMetropolitan Theofilos became Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, replacing Patriarch Irineos I, who was ousted after leasing property in East Jerusalem to those looking to increase the Jewish presence there;BBC Newsthe last of Gaza’s Jewish settlers left their homes on armored buses.Herald SunCanada was considering sanctions against the United States after it refused to comply with a NAFTA ruling in favor of the Canadian lumber industry.Boston.comIn Victoria, Canada, methamphetamine addicts were stealing large numbers of bicycles because disassembling the bikes soothes them while they tweak.Canada.comRobert Moog died,The New York Timesand Chinese authorities were criticizing the televised Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Supergirl Contest for its worldliness. The Australian
In Kansas Dennis Rader, the B.T.K. serial killer, was sentenced to ten consecutive life sentences; he will be eligible for parole in 2180. Rader believed that his victims would serve as his slaves in the afterlife, performing roles like “sex toy and boy servant.” The Wichita EagleJapanese scientists were able to control the direction a person walked by using a handheld remote control. NewScientist.comProponents of the theory of “intelligent design” continued to insist that their ideas regarding the origin of life had merit,The New York Timesand hundreds of people in Florida attended a museum exhibit of preserved corpses encased in silicone.The Los Angeles TimesIn Edinburgh, Scotland, 10,000 bagpipers piped against cancer,BBC Newsand in Switzerland a historically important boulder called Unspunnenstein was stolen by French-speaking separatists.BBC NewsIn Germany a man drowned while trying to get his fishing pole back from a fish; a police spokeswoman described the fish as “ordinary.”ReutersElephants rampaged through a resort town in Zimbabwe, destroying homes,BBC Newsmice were being taught to surf in Australia,Local6.comand a toad infestation struck Big Sandy, Montana, and made the roads sticky.The Washington PostA seventy-eight-year-old Georgia woman, angry that her eighty-five-year-old ex-boyfriend was cheating on her, shot and killed him with an antique handgun. “I’d do it again,” she said.MSNBCSioux Falls, South Dakota, banned cage fighting without a permit.Minnesota Public Radio
More from Paul Ford:
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Average portion of its yearly household expenditures that a South African family will spend on a funeral:
Neuroscientists were hoping to use rat brain waves to find people buried by earthquakes.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature