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Oil reached a record $139.89 a barrel. Four Western companies met with Iraq’s Oil Ministry to finalize no-bid contracts to tap Iraqi oil fields, and the Nigerian government distributed billions of dollars of windfall to corrupt state officials. Thirty-five countries and 25 oil companies met in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to try to fix global oil prices, which have caused strikes, riots, and inflation around the world. Many OPEC countries blamed speculators for the price increase, as did some representatives of oil companies and oil-dependent industries. United States Energy Secretary Sam Bodman blamed supply and demand, as did lobbyists for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association. ABCAFP via GoogleBBCNYTJakarta PostNYTLATWPAP via Mercury NewsWYTV OhioBloombergDrivers in the Gaza strip, where Israel limits fuel supplies and black market gas costs $27 per gallon, used vegetable oil and turpentine as fuel, producing toxic fumes that result in diarrhea and stomach pain. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cancelled four global-warming research expeditions, citing the cost of fuel. American cowboys could not afford to drive their horses to rodeos, and those who lived near the border were filling their tanks in Mexico, where gas is subsidized. AP via Anchorage Daily NewsAP via Detroit Free PressHouston ChronLATLATWPGiant iguanas continued their conquest of South Florida, surrounding Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Bob Kanjian at a golf course in Lake Worth. “I had 25 to 30 iguanas,” he said, “staring at me while I was playing.”Miami Herald
Breaking an earlier vow, Senator Barack Obama announced that he will opt out of the public campaign-finance system, in order to be able to spend unlimited amounts of money in the last two months of his presidential campaign, rather than merely $84 million, the amount to which Senator John McCain will be limited under public-funding laws. “It’ll be like George Steinbrenner’s Yankees in the 90s,” Democratic consultant Chris Lehane said of Obama’s campaign, which could spend as much as $500 million, “against the 90s Kansas City Royals.” ABCNYTIHTPoliticoAP via MSNBCAl Gore endorsed Obama, as did Donatella Versace, whose spring-summer 2009 men’s line, which includes slim pants with a “slick techno-fabric sheen,” is dedicated to the candidate.The HillAP via YahooEx-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declined to endorse McCain, who has called him “one of the worst secretaries of defense in history,” The Hilland Air Force veteran, comedian, and self-described “old fuck” George Carlin died at 71.WP
Water gushed down the Mississippi from last week’s floods in Iowa and Illinois, overflowing at least 20 levees above Saint Louis, and the Flood Museum in Fort Madison, Iowa, remained under water. The federal government warned that climate change will make rainstorms less frequent but more intense in years to come. WPNYTABCNYTNYTNYTABCNYTNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AssociationNPRLATA polar bear named Ofeig (“He Who Should Not Die”), recently arrived in Iceland after traveling via ice floe from Greenland, was shot and killed by the police after he panicked and threatened to attack some journalists.AFP via GoogleDer SpiegelA left human foot wearing a running shoe was found in the ocean near Vancouver. Police were checking to see if it was related to any of four right human feet found in the area since August. “This might take a long time,” said Sharlene Brooks of the Delta Police Department. “This is not C.S.I.” A forensic pathologist and an anthropologist studying what appeared to be a sixth human foot concluded that it was an animal paw and some seaweed stuffed into a sock.NYTBBCNational PostAP via NYTBBCKermit Scott, a former philosophy professor who inspired Jim Henson’s puppet Kermit the Frog, died.AP via NewsdayA sweeping revision of surveillance law, extending the NSA’s domestic wiretapping program and granting immunity to telecom companies that have helped them spy on Americans, passed the House and was expected to pass in the Senate. The bill, explained Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.), “abandons the Constitutionâ??s protections and insulates lawless behavior from legal scrutiny.”BBCTimeNYTIt was revealed that the Veterans Affairs Department had tested an anti-smoking drug on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder but failed to warn them that possible side effects included psychotic behavior and suicide.ABCFOXA bomb in a Kia truck exploded in a market in Baghdad, killing at least 65 people. “I feel very tired and sad,” said clothing merchant Salam Hashim, who lost three friends in the attack. “I just want to smoke.”WPWP
More from Sam Stark:
Estimated number of people who watched a live Webcast of a hair transplant last fall:
A rancher in Texas was developing a system that will permit hunters to kill animals by remote control via a website.
A man in Japan was arrested for stealing a prospective employerâ€™s wallet during a job interview, and a court in Germany ruled that it is safe for a woman with breast implants to be a police officer.
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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."