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Pat Robertson called for the United States to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez; Robertson then lied about calling for the assassination (“‘take him out’,” he said, “can be a number of things”), and finally apologized. Chavez said that Venezuela would take legal action against Robertson.The New York TimesBBC NewsA man was arrested in Tallahassee, Florida, after threatening to blow up Governor Jeb Bush.The Tampa TribuneA New York man was recognized as having the world’s longest eyebrow hair at 3.78 inches,MyWayand a judge in Missouri decided a new statewide ban on semi-nude lap dances was unconstitutional.APScientists in Britain and the United States confirmed that chimpanzees have a culture.BBC NewsConnecticut filed a lawsuit that argues that the Bush Administration’sNo Child Left Behind Law is illegal because state and local funds are required to follow the law. “Give up the unfunded mandates,” said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, “or give us the money.”APHunters with rifles shot bullfrogs in France,News.com.auand south Florida’siguana problem was growing more severe. “It was like Jurassic Park in my toilet,” said a Pompano Beach woman.UPIThe world bog snorkeling championship was held in Wales.BBC News
Europe, previously burning, was flooding. Floods killed 33 people in Romania, and parts of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Bulgaria, and Poland were under water.BBC NewsAn accidental pepper-spray discharge at a Utah hotel sent 51 people to the hospital.USA TodayA member of the American Library Association sued the Justice Department regarding an FBI demand for library records. The identity of the plaintiff, the records sought, and most other details regarding the case were unavailable because of the USA Patriot Act.The Washington PostSupreme Court nominee John Roberts was revealed to be a strict grammarian.The New York TimesThailand‘s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was trying to find out which member of his cabinet had received penis enlargement surgery; the member refused to expose himself.ABC NewsThe FDA was working out a plan to regulate medicinal maggots and leeches, both of which it has classified as “devices.” “The primary mode of action for maggots,” said a representative from a medicinal maggot firm, “is chewing.”The New York TimesWashington authorities took an orphaned duck named Gooey away from the woman who had raised it from a duckling and dressed it in duck diapers. “If you don’t give me the duck,” said a wildlife agent, “I’m going to arrest you.” The woman refused to hand over the duck, which was eventually pulled from her arms.APA German man was arrested for scratching penis drawings on up to 330 vehicles,Reutersand a Springfield Township, Ohio, postal worker was caught putting urine in the post office coffeepot.The New York TimesIn Brooklyn, New York, a recurring hip-hop party night called “Kill Whitie,” marketed to white people, was under criticism as racist. Fans of the party, which offers free admission to anyone with a bucket of fried chicken, defended the event as “funny.”MSNBCSuge Knight was shot in the leg.GlobeAndMail.comA CaliforniaArmy veteran and resident of the United States for 51 years was upset with J.P. Morgan Chase for repeatedly getting his name wrong in their credit-card database, misspelling “Sami Habbas” as “Palestinian Bomber.”ABC NewsIn Israel, many of the settlers who were forced out of Gaza had moved to the West Bank. “We feel very welcome here,” said a settler.The New York Times
Hurricane Katrina killed 11 people in Florida, and more than a million homes and businesses lost power. Katrina then crossed over the Gulf of Mexico and went ashore east of New Orleans, becoming a Category 5 storm along the way. “PERSONS . . . PETS . . . AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS,” said the National Weather Service, “WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK . . . WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.” The hurricane eventually weakened to a tropical storm; winds tore off parts of the roof of the Superdome, where thousands of poor people sought shelter, and at least 55 people were killed in Mississippi.APThe Roanoke TimesOil prices reached $70.80 a barrel.The New York TimesMany Iraqis were hoping to be selected for a new reality television show, called “Labor and Materials,” in which a construction crew shows up unannounced and rebuilds a family’s bombed-out home. Three thousand people have applied in Baghdad alone.Christian Science MonitorGunfighting in Baghdad killed at least 17 people,BBC Newsand police in the Iraqi town of Kut found 36 handcuffed bodies in a shallow river.BBC NewsA draft of the Iraqi constitution was completed, with a referendum scheduled for October. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa called the charter “a recipe for chaos.”BBC NewsThe Pentagon called for 1,500 more troops to be sent to Iraq for the referendum,Bloombergand Brigitte Bardot called on fishermen to stop using live puppies and kittens as shark bait.AFPAZCentral.comDonald Rumsfeld compared the supporters of the anti-war movement to the supporters of Joseph Stalin.Democracy Now!President George W. Bush defended his policy in Iraq against the criticism of anti-war protesters like Cindy Sheehan. “Democracy is unfolding,” he said. “We cannot tolerate the status quo.” Bush, whose 36 percent approval rating is lower than Richard Nixon’s during Watergate, spoke in praise of the war while visiting Donnelly, Idaho, which has a population of 130, as 200 anti-war protesters rallied outside. Bush also promoted his plan for a prescription drug benefit for Medicare while visiting a golf resort in El Mirage, Arizona.CNNDemocracy Now!The GuardianPeople were looking for the source of a mysterious, recurring screaming in Liberty, Ohio.ChannelCincinnati.com
More from Paul Ford:
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