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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:
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 â€śhallwayâ€ť must have a nautical name. Why didnâ€™t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet heâ€™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 theyâ€™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 donâ€™t belong to, that doesnâ€™t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isnâ€™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 â€” because ocean life pays better than money! â€” 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.
Number of people stopped and frisked by the NYPD in 2011 for â€śfurtive movementsâ€ť:
The faces of Lego people were growing angrier.
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