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Robert Gates was approved by the Senate to replace Donald Rumsfeld as the new secretary of defense; senators described themselves as “very pleased,” “very impressed,” “very enthusiastic,” “very grateful,” and “very happy” with the confirmation. Rumsfeld gave an emotional farewell speech to Pentagon employees, and had to wipe his nose.Washington PostWashington PostNew York TimesPresident George W. Bush blamed John Bolton’s departure from the U.N. on the “shallow politics” of the Senate, and Kofi Annan, who will leave the U.N. on December 31 after completing his second five-year term as secretary general, said that he and Bolton were “both graduating together.”Washington PostNew York TimesDemocrats in Congress announced that beginning in January members of the House would work five days a week. “Keeping us up here eats away at families,” said Rep. Jack Kingston (R., Georgia), who spends more than half his week at home. “Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families–that’s what this says.” The Democrats were also trying to stop smoking on the Hill, and attempting to block a $3,300 congressional raise.Washington PostWashington PostWashington PostHarry Reid, the new Senate majority leader, gave outgoing Republican leader Bill Frist a big bear hug.Washington PostThe Iraq Study Group report was released. “Truth of the matter is a lot of reports in Washington are never read by anybody,” said President Bush. “To show you how important this one is, I read it.” When asked how Bush responded to the report’s suggestions that the United States drastically alter its strategy in Iraq, panelist Lawrence Eagleburger said, “His reaction was, ‘Where’s my drink?’” Former Republican senator and Iraq Study Group member Alan Simpson said about Bush, “A 100-percenter is a person you don’t want to be around. They have gas, ulcers, heartburn, and B.O.” Washington PostWhite HouseWashington PostWashington PostA plane bound for Texas made an emergency landing after a female passenger lit matches to mask the odor of her fart.WKMG Local News
Eleven American troops were killed on a single day in Iraq,Washington Postand a bomb exploded in Karma, killing three Iraqi soldiers, including Staff Sergeant Saddam Hussein. “He loved his country, man. He loved it,” said an American soldier who knew Hussein. “According to his religion, he’s probably with a million virgins right now. And he’s probably making them virgins do dismounted patrols.”New York TimesThe U.S. Army’s chief-of-staff said the Army would have to be made “well” again. Washington Post“What Americans are trying to figure out,” said President Bush, “is why Iraqis are killing Iraqis when you have a better future ahead.”Washington PostHundreds of Iraqis vied to become Saddam Hussein’shangman.New York TimesIt was reported that Deepwater, the Coast Guard’s $24 billion program to modernize its fleet, was plagued by cracked hulls and engine failures. “This is the fleecing of America,” said a systems engineer.New York TimesIn New York City, the World War II aircraft carrier U.S.S. Intrepid was finally pulled out of the mud.Washington PostAt the White House Christmas party, First Lady Laura Bush changed into another outfit after it was discovered that she and two other women were wearing the same $8,500 red Oscar de la Renta dress. According to the White House social secretary, “It was the right thing to do.”WCBSTVAugusto Pinochet died on Human Rights Day.un.org
Scientists discovered that the prehistoric Dunkleosteus terrelli, the “Darth Vader of fish,” had the strongest fish bite ever and could snack on sharks.BBC NewsWashington PostA Christmas party in Dublin was canceled after Gus, a camel starring in Santa’s Magical Animal Kingdom Show, got drunk on Guinness and ate all the mince pies.MSNBCA forty-three-foot-tall Swedish straw Christmasgoat was doused with flame-retardant chemicals so that only its hooves could be burned,Associated Press via nj.comand a mother in South Carolina had her son arrested for playing with his Christmas present early.Canadian Press via BreitbartA police officer in Tempe, Arizona, was criticized for telling two black men that they could get out of their littering tickets if they rapped. “The dangers of littering,” rapped one of the men, “you will get a ticket. If you ain’t wit’ it, you better be experienced.” “It’s important,” said Reverend Jarrett Maupin, “for police officers to realize that black people do not speak hip-hop.”Yahoo NewsThe invention of rap was traced back to Muhammad Ali.ESPNSeveral U.S. cities were complaining that they had too many churches,Christian Science Monitorand a man in Tampa was selling his soul on the Internet.Chicago Sun TimesIt was revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney’slesbian daughter is pregnant.CNNSpam was on the rise.New York TimesLos Angeles gave the Owens River back to Inyo County, California, after diverting it for more than 93 years, Christian Science Monitorand a fish festival in Nigeria banned fish.BBC NewsScientists suspected that water was flowing on Mars,Washington Postand NASA head Michael Griffin compared spaceexplorers to Vikings. “Fifty years into it,” he explained, “the amount of progress that the Vikings had made would not have been that noticeable, and that’s where we are in space flight today.” Washington PostNASA announced that by 2024 it would open a space camp for astronauts at the south pole of the moon,Washington Postand astronomers watched a giant black hole eat an entire star.Washington Post
More from Claire Gutierrez:
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, Hill and Wang (N.Y.C.)
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”