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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a timetable for ending the Iraq war by a six-vote margin. The bill mandates American withdrawal in September 2008 if the Bush Administration meets certain benchmarks, earlier if it does not. Several Democrats voted against the timetable because it was not sufficiently antiwar, and Republicans derided the inclusion of domestic provisions benefiting spinach growers, citrus farmers, salmon fishermen, and peanut storers. “What does throwing money at Bubba Gump, Popeye the sailor man, and Mr. Peanut have to do with winning a war?” asked Representative Sam Johnson of Texas. “I will veto it,” said President George W. Bush, “if it comes to my desk.”New Tork TimesNew York TimesBritish troops pulled out of Basra; two days later, rival Shiite factions began battling over a government building that had been been evacuated by the military.CS MonitorIn the Green Zone, a press conference held by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was interrupted by a nearby rocket attack. Ban, frightened, ducked behind a podium,AP via Yahoo! Newsand the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose new sanctions on Iran. Iranian officials claimed that American authorities had prevented President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from attending the Council meeting by delaying his visa,AP via Yahoo! NewsBBCand in the Iraqi territory of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, Iranian forces captured and detained 15 members of the British Royal Navy.Reuters via Yahoo! NewsOil reached $62 per barrel.Reuters UKJohn Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, discussing last summer’s conflict in Lebanon, said that he was “damned proud” of U.S. efforts to delay a cease-fire,BBCand White House press secretary Tony Snow announced that he would soon undergo surgery to remove a growth from his lower abdomen.Reuters via Yahoo! News
Al Gore returned to Capitol Hill to testify that global warming is a planetary emergency. Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts called Gore a prophet, and Rep. John Dingell of Michigan addressed him as “Mr. President.” Joe Barton of Texas, the leading Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told Gore he was “totally wrong” and that, if need be, Republican lawmakers would stay late for an “all-out cat fight” with Democrats. Ralph Hall, also of Texas, speculated that Gore’s attack on the energy industry could result in war “when and if OPEC nations abandon the U.S.A.,” and Roscoe Bartlett (R., Md.) said that he thought it was “probably possible to be a conservative without appearing to be an idiot.“AP vie BreitbartHuffington PostCzech President Vaclav Klaus said that a new “anti-greenhouse religion” had replaced Communism as the paramount threat to global freedom. “This ideology preaches earth and nature, and under the slogans of their protection–similarly to the old Marxists–wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central, now global, planning of the whole world.”Reuters via the San Diego Union TribuneIn Beijing, weather officials were now using the word “mai,” meaning “haze,” to denote a denser concentration of pollutants than “wu,” which means “fog,”The Economistand Taiwan’sfreeway bureau closed 600 yards of highway in Yunlin County in preparation for a massive migration of milkweed butterflies.AP via Yahoo! NewsAfter two black Labrador retrievers sniffed out a shipment of nearly a million black-marketDVDs in Johor, Malaysian disc pirates offered a bounty to anyone who kills the dogs, which were on loan from the Motion Picture Association of America. Lucky and Flo were subsequently moved to a safe house.AP via Canadian pressCelebrity chef Wolfgang Puck announced that his restaurants would no longer serve foie gras, but that he would continue to slice lobsters in half without first stunning them.
Jamaican police continued to search for the murderer of Bob Woolmer, the coach of Pakistan’s cricket team, who, hours after Pakistan lost to Ireland in the cricket World Cup, was strangled in his room at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.BBCIn her denial of an application for divorce filed by a battered Muslim woman, a female judge in Frankfurt, Germany, quoted a verse of the Koran that suggests husbands may beat unchaste wives. “It’s a religious thing,” she explained.The SunA study sponsored by Kleenex facial tissues found that Americans do not let their feelings out often enough,Earth Timesand a Florida man who pleaded guilty to homicide was ordered to exhibit a two-foot-wide picture of his victim in his home. The judge specified that the image should be displayed prominently and include the phrase “I’m sorry I killed you.”AP via Seattle Post-IntelligencerAfter it was discovered that he was drinking the blood and eating the flesh of their young women, a man named Black Jesus was captured by villagers in Papua New Guinea.Fox NewsFour teachers in Xhyre, Albania, were censured after their students caught them drinking and having sex behind a blackboard. “I saw them acting shamefully,” said fourth-grader Elton Cuka to the Shqip daily. “Would you call someone a teacher,” asked Xhevahir Hohxa, a father, “who drinks raki at ten in the morning and gets drunk and chases the schoolgirls?”Reuters via ScotsmanGay policemen in Manila were ordered not to swing their hips while on duty,MSNBCand to test the integrity of ten local hospitals, journalists in Hangzhou, China, replaced their urine samples with tea; six of the hospitals diagnosed the reporters with urinary tract infections.Reuters via Yahoo! LifestyleRussian peasants were refusing to collect their pensions because the payment slip barcodes contained Satanic symbols,Reuters via Yahoo! Newsand in the Mojave Desert, a wandering photographer in search of a striptease museum stumbled across an estimated acre of rotting food discarded by a food bank, including cases of eggnog and tooth whitener. “Creepy, spooky, gross, disgusting,” he said. “Filled with animals and bugs.”MSNBCFamilies of victims of the World Trade Center attacks filed an affidavit that accused New York City of using the remains of the dead to pave roads and fill potholes.Reuters via Yahoo! News
More from Miriam Markowitz:
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