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Stocks on Wall Street and other exchanges throughout the world dropped as brokerage Merrill Lynch was bought by Bank of America, insurance giant AIG sought tens of billions of dollars in government loans, and investment bank Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy.The New York TimesJohn McCain and Barack Obama suspended political advertising and appeared together at the World Trade Center site to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks,The New York Timesand former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift, chair of the Palin Truth Squad, demanded that Obama apologize for saying that McCain’s promise to change Washington amounted to putting “lipstick on a pig” and insisted that the pig was Sarah Palin. “As far as I know,” said Swift, “she’s the only one of the four… who wears lipstick.”Washington PostJoe Biden made public the last ten years of his tax returns, showing that his average annual income was $244,000, of which less than half of one percent went to charity, and suggested to a group in New Hampshire that Hillary Clinton “might have been a better pick” to run with Obama.Tax Prof BlogThe TelegraphReporters discovered that the Alaskan governor’s official jet, which Palin claimed to have sold on eBay, was in fact removed from the site and sold, at a loss, to one of Palin’s campaign contributors;The IndependentMcCain announced that “Innovators” who raised more than $250,000 during the primary season were eligible to become “Super Innovators” if they raised an additional $250,000 for the general election;The New York Timesand Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was forced to apologize after his Conservative party posted a video on its website showing an animated puffin defecating on Liberal leader Stephane Dion. The Canadian Press
Thousands of people remained trapped without food, water, or electricity on Texas’s Galveston Island in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike,The New York Timesand at least 25 people were killed and another 140 injured when a Metrolink commuter train crashed head-on into a freight train in the San Fernando Valley.Los Angeles TimesNinety-one-year-old Morton Sobell, who served almost two decades in Alcatraz and other federal prisons on espionage charges, publicly admitted for the first time that he had spied for the Soviets. He implicated his codefendant Julius Rosenberg but insisted that Ethel Rosenberg, who was executed along with her husband, was never actively involved in espionage. “She knew what he was doing,” Sobell said, “but what was she guilty of? Of being Julius’s wife.”The New York TimesAn Italian prosecutor sought to charge actress Sabrina Guzzanti with “offending the honor of the sacred and inviolable person” of Pope Benedict XVI; Guzzanti had suggested that “within 20 years the Pope will be where he ought to be–in Hell, tormented by great big gaydevils, and very active ones, not passive ones.”The Times of LondonKim Jong-Il’s absence from a ceremony celebrating the 60th anniversary of North Korean independence intensified speculation that the leader may have suffered a serious stroke in recent weeks.The New York TimesAustralian authorities were in search of a boy filmed punching and kicking a stunned kangaroo.BBC
American officials confirmed that in July President Bush gave secret permission to American Special Operations forces to perform ground attacks against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistani government. “Orders,” said one official, “have been issued.”The New York TimesThe Interior Department’s inspector general released multiple reports describing a “culture of ethical failure” at the Department’s Minerals Management Service, which collects about $10 billion each year in royalties from offshore drilling in government waters; a program director at the Department admitted to having sex with and buying cocaine from subordinates.The New York TimesAuthor David Foster Wallace committed suicide,.Los Angeles Timesand the Large Hadron Collider commenced operations, firing a beam of protons through a 17-mile-long tunnel that runs under the Franco-Swiss border. “I thought, ‘Oh, wow,’” said an engineer. “‘It actually worked!’” National Geographic NewsCharles Darwin received a formal apology from the Church of England for its initial rejection of his theory of evolution 150 years after the publication of “On the Origin of Species.”The TelegraphPolice in Fresno apprehended a man for breaking into a house, rubbing cooking spices on the body of one sleeping resident, and assaulting another resident with a sausage. The Fresno BeeResearchers in England determined that women are up to 50 percent more likely than men to experience nightmares,BBCand scientists at the Norwegian Polar Institute were surprised to find the partial remains of a polar bear in the stomach of a Greenland shark. “There is,” said a researcher, “far easier prey to be found.”The Scotsman
More from Christopher Beha:
Commentary — May 22, 2015, 1:10 pm
Jonathan Chait’s flawed attack on David Bromwich’s critique of Barack Obama’s presidency
Commentary — May 4, 2015, 12:53 pm
In defense of the PEN America Center’s decision to give Charlie Hebdo its Freedom of Expression Courage Award
From the February 2015 issue
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.”