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The Iraqi parliament voted unanimously to extend the country’s state of emergency, and President George W. Bush, who declared himself a “realist,” disavowed a leaked White House memo that suggested that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was either dumb, weak, or a liar. Maliki responded by canceling a dinner date with the president.New York TimesCybercast News Service and New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneIran’s supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that “the continuation of Iraq’s occupation is not a mouthful that Americans can swallow.”Breitbart.comMarine Corps intelligence in the Sunni Triangle determined that U.S. forces were “no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency,”Washington Postand Matt Lauer, host of the Today Show, declared the onset of civil war in Iraq. Lauer’s former co-host and current CBS anchor Katie Couric refused to agree with Lauer, insisting instead that Iraq had only slipped “ever closer” to civil war; ABC’s Charles Gibson, another former morning television host, said, “You can call it anarchy, you can call it chaos, you can call it civil war . . . “Boston Globe and Newsbuster.orgThe U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness team issued a “situational awareness report” warning of an Al Qaeda “cyber threat,”BBCand Technical Mujahid, a magazine designed to “break the siege placed upon [Muslims] by the media of the Crusaders and their followers,” released its first issue.MemriIranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote a letter to the American people claiming that Jews have inordinate control over international finance, media, and culture. New York TimesIn Mexico, “donnybrooks and yelling matches” preceded the four-minute swearing-in ceremony of President Felipe Calderon,New York Timesand the Mexican Committee for the Study of Kimilsungism hosted a seminar on the deceased North Korean dictator’s seminal academic tome, “The Workers’ Party of Korea Is the Party of the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il Sung.”North Korea News ServiceSouth Korea’sAgriculture Ministry announced plans to kill all the cats and dogs in Iksan, Korea. Minister Kim Chang-sup defended the action, undertaken in response to an outbreak of avian flu, by saying, “Other countries do it. They just don’t talk about it.”New York TimesA “bizarrely festive” atmosphere was noted on the streets of Beirut, where one million Hezbollah supporters rallied for the ouster of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.New York TimesPoisons were felling Russians around the globe.This is London
Revised fiscal estimates from the Department of Commerce showed that the economy was “gently slowing” and not in a “crash dive”; New York Timesa federal judge ruled that American paper currency discriminates against blind people;CNNand Barry Diller, at one time the highest paid CEO in the world, said corporate compensation consultants should be “flushed into the East River.” Reuters via GawkerA North Carolina judge ruled that Guy T. LeGrande, a convicted murderer who wore a Superman costume to his trial, might be too crazy to execute,New York Timesand a lawyer representing five policemen who shot and killed an unarmed black man in Queens, New York, said he was “confident” his clients would go unpunished.New York TimesIn California, former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis successfully led a fight against parking scofflaws, Los Angeles Timesand a “yearlong rash of nut robberies” ended when police recovered 136,000 pounds of stolen nuts with a street value of $400,000 from a warehouse in Sacramento. New York TimesConservative rabbis in Beverly Hills called for an end to the religious edict forbidding oral sex between men; anal congress, however, would still be forbidden.Los Angeles TimesRepublicancongressmen were attempting to define a twenty-week-old fetus as a “pain-capable unborn child,”CNNand the Department of Health and Human Services refused to ensure that its reports on abstinence for young people were factually and scientifically accurate.TPM muckrackerThe Center for the Digital Future announced that the average Internet user will make 4.6 “virtual pals” this year.BBCThe Department of Homeland Security was ranking the terrorist potential of American air travelers,CNNa serial foot fetishist was stalking women in Philadelphia,NBC 10and the National Institute of Standards and Technology concluded that electronic voting machines “cannot be made secure.”Washington PostExperts warned people with pacemakers that refrigerator magnets “can be a killer.”BBCA herd of domesticated pigs attacked and ate a three-year-old boy in Delhi, India.BBC
Researchers at the Stealthy Insect Sensor Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory announced that they had developed explosive-sniffing bees.CNNThe Sundance Film Festival announced it would air a documentary on the perils of man/horse love,Seattle Timeshunters in Michigan, North Dakota, shot a female deer with a “well-developed rack” of antlers,Yahoo Newsand sheriff’s deputies in Polk County, Florida, rescued a naked, drug-addled man from the jaws of an attacking alligator.CNNMel Gibson was addressing his demons.CNNScientists said that a “primordial meteorite” may hold clues about the “raw organic molecules needed for life,” that humpback whales may be every bit as intelligent as humans, dolphins, and great apes, and that women speak three times as much as men.BBCThe AgeDaily MailDanny Devito called the president a “numbnuts.”National Ledger
More from Theodore Ross:
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