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In the midst of a brief thunderstorm that transfixed the New York City subway system and killed one motorist, a tornado formed over the Atlantic Ocean, grazed the north coast of Staten Island, and blew into Brooklyn, felling 292 trees, ripping roofs off dozens of buildings, and displacing 200 people from their homes. New York TimesNY1Losses among lenders to American debtors led to a one-day plunge of 387 points in the Dow Industrial Average. The Federal Reserve injected $62 billion into the market–its largest intervention since September 19, 2001–and its international counterparts followed suit. Hedge funds were in the red. “You have a better chance at making money on the craps table than in this market,” remarked one analyst. New York TimesNew York TimesGermany’s leading regulator warned that the country risked tumbling into its worst financial crisis since the 1930s, Wall Street Journaland the public disclosure of Adolf Hitler’s private record collection indicated that the Fuehrer enjoyed listening to Jewish musicians play Tchaikovsky.GuardianThe discovery of a 1973 document proved that it was Stasi policy to “stop or liquidate” defectors attempting to escape East Germany over the Berlin Wall, especially those accompanied by women and children. ScotsmanChina Public Security, a U.S.-financed company contracted by the People’s Republic, was outfitting the city of Shenzen with 20,000 surveillance cameras and issuing identity cards to record each citizen’s name, address, employment status, education, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical-insurance status, reproductive history, and landlord’s phone number. “If they do not get the permanent card,” said a China Public Security executive, “they cannot live here, they cannot get government benefits, and that is a way for the government to control the population in the future.” New York TimesIt was reported that Rudolph Giuliani’s daughter, Caroline, a member of the Harvard class of 2011, was affiliated with the Facebook.com group “Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack)”; she had recently left the group, but her page maintained that her political views are “Liberal” and that she is single, interested in men, and looking for “Friendship,” “Random play,” or “Whatever I can get.”Slate
Seif al-Islam Qaddafi, son of Muammar Qaddafi, affirmed that recently released Bulgarian and Palestinian medical workers accused of spreading HIV to Libyan babies were tortured while in custody. “Yes,” he said, “they were tortured by electricity, and they were threatened that their family members would be targeted.”Chicago TribuneAnonymous sources told a reporter that purported Al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was told by his American captors, “We’re not going to kill you. But we’re going to take you to the very brink of your death and back.” Sources also said Mohammed was kept naked in his cell, hung by his arms from the ceiling, and flung against the walls by a leash around his neck. Daniel Pearl’s widow and father expressed doubts about the egomaniacal detainee’s claim that he beheaded the Wall Street Journal reporter. New YorkerThe United States denied approving the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s $39.7 million purchase of 105,000 Russian-made assault rifles from the Italian Mafia. A senior official of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, which has backed Shiite death squads in the Shiite-Sunni civil war, said “most” of the Russian guns were meant for its police in the Sunni-majority Anbar province; Iraqi officials also complained that U.S. gun deliveries are slow. Washington PostNominally antiwar Democrats Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards admitted that if elected to the White House they would worry about terrorism launched from a failed Iraqi state, threats to the Kurds, and the prospect of Shiite-on-Sunni genocide, and because of these fears they would continue the occupation of Iraq for a long time.New York Times
A rocket launched from Gaza struck a ranch owned by comatose former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, Israel TodayHank Aaron’s home run record was broken, New Yorkerand three college students were murdered execution-style in a New Jersey playground.IHTAn eight-foot-five-inch Ukrainian, Leonid Stadnyk, was declared the world’s tallest man; locals attributed his size to a brain operation in adolescence, and the penurious Stadnyk lamented that his continuous growth had ended his career as a veterinarian when he became too large to fit into a car and his fingers grew too big for him to press buttons. “Doctors tell me I will live a long life,” he said. “I hope it will be in happiness.”ScotsmanIn India police killed a protester at a riot of flood victims, and the monsoon death toll climbed above 2,000, with many of the fatalities blamed on snakebites. “Everyone is crammed in together,” said an expert, “and the chances of running into snakes, stepping on them, grabbing them, and sleeping on them is much, much more.”Washington PostIHTKarl Rove announced his resignation.The Washington PostA straw poll of IowaRepublicans lent an aura of viability to the presidential candidacies of Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee but caused Tommy Thompson to drop out of the race. New York TimesTeacher Barbara Morgan, Christa McAuliffe’s backup on the ill-fated 1986 Challenger mission, blasted into orbit on board the space shuttleEndeavour, which suffered damage to its heat shield. Kansas City StarFive billion light years from earth, four galaxies violently converged; astronomers predicted that over the next 100 million years they will fuse into a single galaxy ten times larger than the Milky Way. A celestial plume of billions of expelled stars bloomed from the collision. Half of these stars will resettle in the new giant galaxy; the rest are lost in space.BBC
More from Christian Lorentzen:
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 California’s 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 “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — 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 “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” 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 “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby 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.”