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Saddam Hussein’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majeed, also known as “Chemical Ali,” was sentenced to death for his role in Iraq’s Kurdish genocide.Reuters CanadaHamas militants released an audio recording of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in which he states, “I am sorry that the Israeli government has not shown more interest. It should meet the demands of my kidnappers so I can be released.”BBCSeven children were killed during a coalition-led airstrike in Afghanistan,.NYTand the Gaza kidnappers of Britishjournalist Alan Johnston released a video of Johnston wearing an explosives vest, which he says will be detonated if force is used to try to free him.BBCIn North Korea, 110 people foraging for gasoline were killed in an explosion at a fuel pipeline,Al Jazeeraand the North Korean government announced it would begin dismantling its nuclear program after the U.S. Treasury unfroze certain bank accounts in Macau.BloombergA Marine Corps memo, circulated after the 2005 Haditha massacre, was made public. “‘Fighting terrorists associated with Al Qaida’ is stronger language than ‘serving’,” read the memo. “The American people will side more with someone actively fighting a terrorist organization that is tied to 9/11 than with someone who is idly ‘serving,’ like in a way one ‘serves’ a casserole.”NYTIt was reported that despite the U.S. “surge,” the black-market prices in Iraq for weapons and ammunition have remained stable, indicating the failure of supposedly strengthened checkpoints. TimeThe military was concerned about a marked drop in the number of African-American recruits since the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars; “We just want to make sure,” said Marine Commandant General James Conway, “that we continue to look like America.”ABC News
Scientists called Europe’swinter of 2006 – 2007 the warmest in 700 years. New ScientistFlooding in Karachi, Pakistan, left 200 people dead and 1,000 homes destroyed,BBCand a five-acre glacial lake in the Andesvanished.AP via CNNTuna shortages were forcing Japanese chefs to consider deer and horse meat as substitutes for sushi.NYTJapan rechristened the island of Iwo Jima, made famous by World War II, with its prewar name of Iwo To.AP via CNNAuthorities in New Zealand prevented a couple from naming their baby “4real” because the name included a numeral.AP via CNNThe South African education department announced that male students may be granted paternity leave,IOL/Cape Timesand Lydia Playfoot, a 16-year-old English schoolgirl, went to the High Court to protest her school’s ban on wearing “purity rings” (used to symbolize chastity), which she characterized as discrimination against Christians.BBCNewsResearchers announced that firstborn children develop higher I.Q.s than their younger siblings,NYTand a two-year-old English girl with an I.Q. of 152 joined Mensa.AFP via YahooOne and a half million Thomas the Tank Engine toys produced in China were recalled after they were found to contain lead paint.IHTThe actress Cameron Diaz apologized for carrying a bag printed with a Maoist political slogan when she visited Peru, where up to 69,000 people died in a decade-long war between the government and Maoist rebels.BBCA study found that paying taxes activates pleasure-centers in the brain.NYTZimbabwe’s rate of inflation reached 11,000 percent and was predicted to approach 1.5 million percent by the end of the year.Guardian
The Australian government announced a ban on alcohol and pornography for Aborigines,Forbesand the Swedish government recognized that one man’s preference for heavy metal music constitutes a disability, making the man eligible for state benefits.The LocalA District of Columbia judge ruled in favor of a Washington dry cleaner in a $54 million case brought over a missing pair of pants. The plaintiff, himself an administrative law judge, was ordered to pay the dry cleaner’s court fees.AP via YahooA study found that Facebook users are wealthier and better educated than their MySpace counterparts,BBCa Minnesota man was fined $3,000 for putting dog feces in a parking ticket envelope,AP via Philly.comand in Idaho, a black Labrador drove his owner’s Chevy Impala into a river.AP via Philly.comAn eight-year-old two-headed hermaphrodite albino rat-snake named “We” died of natural causes at the City Museum in St. Louis,St. Louis Post Dispatchand Six Flags closed eight thrill rides across the country after a teenage girl in Kentucky had her feet severed on the Superman Tower of Power.AP via Wave3 Louisville, KY
More from Gemma Sieff:
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