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A White House report showed that only eight of eighteen benchmarks for progress were being met in Iraq, but President Bush asked Congress to wait for another report in September before passing judgment.NYTNYTRyan C. Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, pleaded against withdrawal. “In the States,” said Crocker, “it’s like we’re in the last half of the third reel of a three-reel movie, and all we have to do is decide weâ??re done here, and the credits come up, and the lights come on, and we leave the theater and go on to something else. Whereas out here, youâ??re just getting into the first reel of five reels, and as ugly as the first reel has been, the other four and a half are going to be way, way worse.” Unpersuaded, the House voted to begin withdrawing from Iraq in four months.BBCNYTWhite House spokesman Tony Snow confirmed that the Iraqi government may take the month of August off, because August is very hot in Iraq. “But, you know,” he added, “they may change their minds.” BusinesswireTwo car bombs killed at least 75 people in Kirkuk,NYTand a truck carrying 200 suicide-bomb vests was seized near the Syrian border.NYTKurdish guerrillas were fighting Iranian troops,IHTand Turkey was amassing more than 200,000 soldiers along its border with Iraq.Reuters via Globe and MailThe U.S. Army fell more than 1,000 soldiers short of its June recruiting goal,NYTand the British military insisted that it had not released man-eating badgers in Basra.BBC
The Senate voted to double the bounty on Osama bin Laden to $50 million;BBCAn amount at first thought to be $282 million, but revised to $225 thousand, was stolen from a bank in Baghdad;.NYTand bin Laden’s son Omar announced that he had taken a 51-year-old British grandmother as his second wife.Washington PostChina executed Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of its State Food and Drug Administration, for taking bribes to approve untested medicines including an antibiotic reported to have killed ten people.NYTDr. Richard Carmona, former U.S. surgeon general, told a congressional committee that the Bush Administration had censored his speeches and discouraged him from discussing science in public.ReutersTourism was down in Crawford, Texas, where George W. Bush owns a very small ranch. To make up for declining sales of Bush merchandise, Bill Johnson, the owner of Crawford’s largest gift shop, was stocking more Americana. “We’re changing our mix,” he explained. “As a business, we have to do what we have to do to be successful.” Houston ChronicleJohn McCain, whose campaign was collapsing, was suspected of violating both Senate ethics rules and criminal law by making a fundraising call from the Republican cloakroom in the Senate.Washington PostNYTThe phone number of Senator David Vitter (R., La.), an advocate of family values and of Rudolph Giuliani, was found on the client list of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who is accused of running a Washington, D.C., area prostitution ring.Washington PostFlorida State Representative Bob Allen (R., Merritt Island) was arrested for offering to perform an unspecified sex act on an undercover police officer for $20.Orlando SentinelOver 500 victims of clergy sexual abuse settled their claims with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for $660 million; the Archdiocese is expected to sell up to 50 church properties to raise funds, as many of the the cases date from periods when it had little or no sexual-abuse insurance.NYTBBC
An interdenominational congregation in New York City was suing to prevent a large ad for bidets, depicting naked derrieres with smiley faces on them, from being erected on their Times Square church. NYTPope Benedict XVI decreed that, by definition, Protestant churches are not churches.GuardianA Hindu prayer at the opening of a U.S. Senate hearing was interrupted by three angry Christians,Reuters via ABCand militants in northwest Pakistan, misleadingly calling themselves the Taliban, tore up a peace treaty and killed at least 70 people in a series of bombings.IHTNYTBBCStriking teachers in Trujillo, Peru, threw eggs and tomatoes at President Alan Garcia, BBCand in Mexico oil-pipeline sabotage forced more than 100 companies to reduce or suspend production.BloombergGarbage was overflowing in parts of Oakland, California, after two weeks of dispute between Waste Management, Inc., and Teamsters Local 70. “It stinks,” said Oakland resident Jarod Smith.SF ChronThe French celebrated Bastille Day, BBCand Russia celebrated the 60th anniversary of the AK-47. “On behalf of all my brethren who died in the anti-American war to liberate our country,” said Senior Colonel To Xuan Hue, the defense attachĂ© from Vietnam, “we thank you for inventing this weapon.” NYTFormer first lady Lady Bird Johnson passed away peacefully amid song and prayer.Washington Post
More from Sam Stark:
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