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At 20 points along the Gaza Strip’s southern border, Hamas operatives detonated explosives to topple an Israeli-built fence, allowing as many as 200,000 Palestiniansâ??13 percent of the territory’s populationâ??to cross into Egypt and shop. The Gazans purchased camels, candy, cement, chairs, cheese, cigarettes, computers, cows, doughnuts, gasoline, generators, goats, mattresses, medicine, motorcycles, pistols, potato chips, sheep, snack cakes, soap, and televisions. Supplies at Egyptian shops dwindled, prices spiked, and fistfights ensued. Several Gazan women married Egyptians, and the Israel Defense Force patrolled its southern border for would-be suicide bombers and hostage takers.New York TimesJerusalem PostAFPDublin IndependentSeif al-Islam Qaddafi, the 36-year-old son of Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was linked to attacks that killed 38 Iraqis, wounded 225, and destroyed 50 buildings in a Mosul slum. The London School of Economics graduate, known in Libya as “the Engineer” for his reputation as a reformer and an advocate of human rights, allegedly funds the Seifaddin Regiment, which is allied with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. APStanching rumors circulating in a widely forwarded email that he is a radical Muslim, Senator Barack Obama repeatedly professed his faith in an “awesome” Christian God and defeated former President Bill Clinton’s wife in the South Carolina Democratic primary.Boston GlobeNew York TimesSenator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts endorsed Obama, and Fred Thompson and Dennis Kucinich withdrew from the presidential race.New York TimesSacramento BeeIndonesian dictator Suharto, Archbishop Christodoulos of the Greek Orthodox Church, Mormon church president Gordon B. Hinckley, and actor Heath Ledger died.New York TimesNew York TimesNew York TimesNew York Times
Jerome Kerviel, a 31-year-old arbitrager for the French bank Societe Generale recalled by many of his acquaintances as a mediocrity, was arrested in Paris for allegedly losing $7 billion of his employer’s capital in fraudulent stock bets. Experts linked the bank’s unwinding of Kerviel’s trades to last week’s precipitous drop in world markets. “Wouldn’t it be embarrassing,” asked Barry L. Ritholtz, chief of the investment firm FusionIQ, “if the Fed had to make one of the biggest emergency rate cuts ever because of some rogue trader?” New York TimesNew York TimesLeaders gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, attempted to dispel a global mood of pessimism. “People have to keep in mind, throughout history we have always had cycles,” said JPMorgan CEO James Dimon. “Corporation,” said PepsiCo chief Indra K. Nooyi, “has soul.” “The good news about our world today,” said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, “is that idealism is the new realism and the reason for that is the interconnectedness.”CNNBritish Conservative MP Hugh Walpole delivered a speech in Parliament against the creation of a permanent president of the European Council, a position said to be coveted by Blair. Such a consolidation of power, he said, would make it difficult for national governments to restrain dictates from Brussels “even if the European Commission proposed the slaughter of the first-born.”Parliament
Eleven Luo children and eight Luo adults in Naivasha, Kenya, were incinerated when a mob of Kikuyus chased them into a house and burned it down. The number of revenge killings following Kenya’s recent elections had reached 750, mostly by means of burning, arrows, and machetes. Local radio programs were blamed for perpetuating the violence through dehumanizing metaphors: Kalenjins call Kikuyus “mongooses”; Kikuyus call Luos “beasts of the west”; and Luos refer to the election of President Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, as “the leadership of the baboons.” New York TimesRelief WebTestifying before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia, Milton Blayee, a.k.a. General Butt Naked, confessed to war crimes that he and his Butt Naked Battalion often committed in the nude. The born-again Christian evangelist apologized for “the killing of an innocent child and plugging out the heart which was divided into pieces for us to eat. More than 20,000 people fell victim. They were killed.”TelegraphSelectmen in Brattleboro, Vermont, passed a measure allowing town residents to vote to indict President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for war crimes, Rutland Heraldand Paul Wolfowitz rejoined the Bush Administration as an adviser on arms control.Boston GlobeOmar Osama bin Laden, son of Osama bin Laden, announced that he is organizing a multi-month horse race across North Africa to promote peace. CNNCanadian police Tasered a man who was attempting to scalp himself in the bathroom of an Ottawa-bound bus, Ottawa Sunand authorities arrested a 16-year-old Louisiana male for plotting to hijack a Southwest Airlines plane.CNNDwarf thieves had infested Swedish buses,AnanovaLithuania was pondering changing its name,Reutersand a plot by retired TurkishArmy officers to kill Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk was foiled. New York TimesPolice in Malda, India, were battling avian flu by conducting a poultry massacre. “We have planned to collect ‘backyard chickens’ from the houses in the evening and kill all of them late at night,” said the district’s deputy director of animal-resources development, N. K. Shit.The HinduGeorge Piro, the FBI field agent who interrogated Saddam Hussein, recalled his last meeting with the Iraqi dictator, when the two smoked cigars and Saddam kissed Piro on the cheek three times. “It made me feel,” he said, “somewhat awkward.”CBS News
More from Christian Lorentzen:
Amount paid last fall for a Ford Escort driven by Pope John Paul II:
92 percent of Mexicans are relaxed by a pleasant-smelling bedroom.
Swedish biologists studying coercive mating in mosquitofish discovered that femalesâ€™ brains get larger as malesâ€™ genitals get longer, and male Madagascar hissing cockroaches were found to attract mates with either their enlarged testicles or their enlarged horns.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of oneâ€™s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many timesâ€”in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."