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Israel extended its occupation of the Gaza strip, sending in ground forces and cutting the territory in two. Hamas fired 32 missiles at Israel. The Palestinian health ministry reported that more than 500 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including 21 children, have been killed so far; the Israeli military stated that 80 percent of the Palestinian dead were members of Hamas. “We don’t intend neither to occupy Gaza nor to crush Hamas, but to crush terror,” explained Israeli President Shimon Peres. “And Hamas needs a real and serious lesson.” “We have restrained ourselves for a long time,” said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.BBCBBCA female suicide bomber in Baghdad blew herself up in front of a Shia shrine, killing 37 pilgrims.NYTEarthquakes struck the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan, killing no one, and the West Papua province of Indonesia, killing four people.CNNVOATwenty-two Chinese dairy companies involved in the recent profusion of melamine-tainted milk sent a text-message apology to millions of cellular phones. “We are deeply sorry,” read the message, “for the harm caused to the children and the society.”BBCSpain announced that the children and grandchildren of Spaniards who fled the country during General Franco’s dictatorship would be eligible for citizenship.NYTMore than 400 people–most of them women, children, and elderly men, two of them Catholic priests–were murdered in Christmas Day massacres by Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Five people had their lips cut off as a reminder not to speak ill of the rebels.BBCCNN
Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich nominated Roland Burris, the state’s former attorney general, as senator. “I’ve enjoyed the limelight the past couple of days,” said Blagojevich, who is currently under indictment for seeking to auction off President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. “Please do not allow the allegations against me to taint this good man.” Said Burris: “We are the senator.”HuffPoProPublicaChicago Sun-TimesMinnesota election officials announced that Al Franken had won a recount of ballots cast for one of the state’s Senate seats, narrowly defeating Republican incumbent Norm Coleman,CNNand New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson declined to accept the post of commerce secretary in Obama’s cabinet, citing ongoing investigations into New Mexico’s awarding contracts to a financier who donated money to political funds linked to Richardson.NYTA statue stolen from the Palm Beach residence of disgraced fund manager Bernard Madoff was discovered, undamaged, a few blocks from his estate. Comprising two bare-chested lifeguards seated on a bench and valued at more than $10,000, the statue was found with a note, addressed to “Bernie the Swindler” and signed by “The Educators,” that read, “Lesson: Return stolen property to rightful owners.”CNNOtolaryngologists warned golfers that they could go deaf from using a new generation of thin-faced titanium drivers, which create a loud boom on impact with the ball.TelegraphUK
Maria de Jesus, the world’s oldest living person, died at the age of 115 in Portugal. Her daughter, Maria Madalena, said that de Jesus never “fell ill, nor took any medication.”AFPMIT researchers said they had succeeded in using gold nanoparticles to time and target the delivery of drugs to particular regions or organs of the body, a technique that could improve the treatment of cancer.BBCSteve Jobs, the C.E.O. of Apple, said that his recent weight loss was due not to pancreatic cancer but to a hormone imbalance that “has been ‘robbing’ me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy.” PCWorldWarmer, more acidic oceans were retarding coral growth in the Great Barrier Reef,BBCand NASA’s robot rovers Spirit and Opportunity survived their fifth year on Mars. Despite dust clouds coating and clogging their solar panels, they climbed a mountain, descended a crater, and traversed long distances of treacherous, ancient terrain.CNNTwo gunmen robbed a man of one dollar in the parking lot of an Ohio Wendy’s.Ledger-EnquirerA bus matron in New York City was facing charges of reckless endangerment after she left a mentally disabled student on a school bus so that she could arrive on time for a New Year’s Eve concert being performed by the “Christian Liberace.” The student was discovered seventeen hours later, curled up and rocking, and was hospitalized for hypothermia.NY Daily NewsA rare red-browed Amazon parrot at a wildlife conservatory in Loxahatchee Groves, Florida, terrorized by New Year’s fireworks, beat itself to death against the cage it shared with its mate,Miami Heraldand scientists in Britain announced the discovery of a new antidote to poisoning and overdose, whereby a molecule named Bridion will bind itself to an unwanted substance in the bloodstream and neutralize it within three minutes; the treatment, it was suggested, could be used to cure a hangover.TelegraphUK
More from Gemma Sieff:
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."