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The United States military published its first public estimate of the number of Iraqi civilians and soldiers killed by Iraqi militants. The estimate appears as a single bar graph on page 23 of a report to Congress and does not provide actual numbers, but by extrapolating from the graph it appears that insurgents are wounding and killing 63 Iraqis a day, and have wounded or killed 25,902 Iraqis since the war began. Some analysts said the numbers seemed low. The number of Iraqi civilians wounded or killed by U.S. forces was not mentioned in the report.The New York TimesThe number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq rose to 2,023. “The best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops,” said President George W. Bush, “is to complete the mission.”APBeavers were re-introduced to the British countryside for the first time in 500 years by a millionaire beaver enthusiast,Times Online and badgers were found to be digging tunnels under the fences of a U.K. prison.BBC NewsItalian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi claimed that in 2003 he repeatedly attempted to talk President Bush out of invading Iraq. “He told Bush?” asked the leader of an opposing political party. “Well, it means he doesn’t count for anything at all.”The GuardianU.S. aircraft dropped explosives on a house in Iraq near the Syrian border, hoping to kill an Al Qaeda leader. An Iraqi doctor estimated 40 civilians were killed and 20 wounded in the precision bombing. “There are no insurgents in this area,” said a tribal leader.ReutersIranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the face of the map.” Iran later said that it did not intend to invade Israel. “Westerners are free to comment,” clarified Ahmadinejad, “but their reactions are invalid.” BBC NewsTwo U.S. soldiers were charged with assaulting two Afghan prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention.The New York TimesHarriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court,CNN.comand a new Swedish passenger train was being praised because it runs on the entrails of dead cows.BBC NewsGeorge Takei, who played Mr. Sulu on Star Trek, announced that he is gay,Advocate.comand women’s basketball star Sheryl Swoopes came out as a lesbian.New York BladeA 56-pound mushroom was found in Missouri.News Leader
An Oregon woman won $1 million in the lottery, but was discovered to have purchased the winning ticket with a stolen credit card. If convicted, she will not be able to collect any prize money.CNNRepublican groups were calling on the federal government to halt all funds to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which currently receives $400 million each year in federal funding. “That is enough money,” said Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, “to build 40 elementary schools.”CBC.caIn Los Angeles a man dressed as Sesame Street’s Elmo was arrested for panhandling.ABC NewsIn Turkey 20 people were each fined $75.53 for using the letters “Q” and “W” during a Kurdish new year celebration.CNN.comHugo Chavez called on the people of Venezuela to stop celebrating Halloween, and said the holiday was the United States‘ way of “putting fear into other nations.”BBC NewsIn Delaware the body of a woman who hanged herself from a tree was pulled down after people realized she was not a decoration.CNNI. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, also known as “Cheney’s Cheney,” was indicted on one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements.New York TimesKarl Rove’s alleged mistress was rumored to have left him for a ranch hand named Rhett Hard.DenverPost.comA woman in Texas came down with dengue fever.Austin-American StatesmanAt least 130 whales died after beaching in Tasmania; the Australian navy denied responsibility.BBC NewsMarion Barry was charged with tax fraud.ABC NewsIn Brussels, a 47-year-old Flemish woman was arrested for racism after she called her husband a “lazy Walloon.”Reuters
Neither the local police and fire departments nor the Coast Guard nor the City Department of Environmental Protection were able to identify the source of a pleasant, maple-syrup-like smell that wafted over much of New York City.The New York TimesThe European Union denied a French company’s attempt to trademark the smell of fresh strawberries.BBC NewsIn Winnipeg, Canada, a trailer caught fire, causing $102,006 in damage, when flames spread from a bag of burning excrement left on its front porch.Ottawa SunFour fraternity members at California State University, Chico, were sentenced to jail time after one of their pledges died from “water intoxication”; during hazing the pledge was forced to drink several gallons of water.CNN.comIn Andhra Pradesh, India, floods washed away sections of railway track, subsequently causing a derailment that killed at least 100 people. CBC NewsA Ford Escort once owned by Pope John Paul II sold for $680,000,Reutersand in Waco, Texas, a pastor stepped into a baptismal pool with a microphone in his hand and was electrocuted in front of 800 parishioners.CNNPresident Bush nominated Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., to the Supreme Court,The New York Timesand scientists discovered that at least one species of fish, the north Pacific salmon shark, has very warm blood.National Science FoundationIn China eight elementary school children were killed and 45 injured in the stampede that started after someone yelled “ghosts are coming.”IOL.CO.ZAThere were 39 months remaining in the Bush presidency.The New York TimesStrange, vibrating lights were seen in the skies above California and Nevada.SF Gate
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 California’s 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 “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — 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 “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” 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 “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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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.”