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The war between Israel and Hamas entered its third week as Israeli forces pushed into heavily populated areas of Gaza City. A UN resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, which passed through the Security Council by a vote of 14 – 0 with the United States abstaining, was ignored by both sides; the UN suspended aid to Gaza after two of its workers were killed by an Israeli tank. Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace, described Gaza as “one big concentration camp.”New York TimesYahoo!The Daily MailYahoo!Roughly 900 Palestinians had died in the fighting, half of them civilians and one third of them children. Fourteen Israelis had been killed. Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, reported that Israel was “getting close to achieving the goals it set for itself” and “must not miss out, at the last moment, on what has been achieved through an unprecedented national effort.”The New York TimesJoe Biden visited Baghdad, where eight people died in bombings,New York Timesand Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher announced that he will be traveling to Gaza to report on the war. “Being a Christian,” Wurzelbacher said, “I’m pretty well protected by God, I believe.”WNWO NBC 24Laura Bush sold the rights to her memoirs,New York Timesand a four-year-old Ohio boy shot his babysitter after he stepped on his foot.Breitbert
Russia agreed to restore shipments of Russian gas to Europe through Ukrainian pipelines,New York TimesVenezuelan President Hugo Chavez suspended a program that gave free heating oil to towns in Alaska (but changed his mind a few days later),Anchorage Daily Newsand fighting between the Taliban and Pakistani troops in northwestern Pakistan left 46 dead.New York TimesA group of ex-prostitutes accused South Korea of encouraging them to have sex with American soldiers stationed there, and thereby to become “dollar-earning patriots.” “Our government,” said a former prostitute, “was one big pimp for the U.S. military.”New York TimesThe Illinois House of Representatives voted 114 to 1 to impeach Rod Blagojevich, and his appointee to the U.S. Senate, Ronald W. Burris, went to Washington, D.C., to take his seat, and was at first turned away, but later told his appointment could be confirmed.New York TimesNew York TimesThe SwampNew York TimesDefeated Republican Senator Norm Coleman filed a lawsuit contesting Al Franken’s recount victory in Minnesota,The Star Tribuneand six candidates for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee debated at the National Press Club, where they discussed ways to appeal to younger voters. “We have to do it in the Facebook,” said incumbent Chairman Mike Duncan, “with the Twittering.”Washington PostPresident-elect Barack Obama tapped former congressman and Clinton chief-of-staff Leon Panetta to head the CIA,.Fox Newsand the Army acknowledged that it had accidentally sent 7,000 letters to family members of dead soldiers with the salutation “Dear John Doe.”NewYork TimesLarry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild founder Joseph Francis sought a $5 billion government bailout for the porn industry. “It’s time for Congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America,” said Flynt.Australian Broadcasting CorporationAn Australian woman was charged with murder following the death of her husband, whose genitals she had doused with alcohol and set afire while he slept. “I just wanted to burn his penis so it belongs to me and no one else,” explained the woman. “I didn’t mean this to happen.”The Guardian
George W. Bush gave his final press conference. “Abu Ghraib was a huge disappointment,” he said. “Not having weapons of mass destruction was a significant disappointment.” He added that he strongly disagreed “with the assessment that our moral standing has been damaged” by his presidency. “I can’t envision myself,” he said of his future, “in a big straw hat and a Hawaiian shirt sitting on a beach somewhere, particularly since I quit drinking.”New York TimesGerman billionaire industrialist Adolf Merckle killed himself by lying down in front of a train on railroad tracks near his home.Der SpiegelScientists discovered the “magnetosphere,” a layer of ions and electrons surrounding the earth described by one physicist as a “warm plasma cloak,” National Geographicand a study suggested that the Milky Way is traveling through space 100,000 miles per hour faster than previously thought, meaning it will collide with the galaxy Andromeda far sooner than predicted. “The galaxies will be dramatically stirred up,” said Gerry Gilmore of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University, “but they are very squidgy, so they will stick together and eventually all the stars will die out, and it will become one huge, dead galaxy.” The TelegraphsA six-year-old boy and a five-year-old-girl were detained in Germany, on a train to the airport; they explained to police that they planned to fly to Africa to be married. The couple, disguised in sunglasses, had brought along several suitcases, a pink blow-up doll, swim fins, and the boy’s seven-year-old sister, who planned to act as witness. “What struck us was that the little ones were completely on their own,” said a police spokesman, “and that they had lots of swimming gear with them.”The Guardian
More from Christopher Beha:
From the February 2015 issue
From the Vault — February 7, 2014, 3:15 pm
Is it worth carrying on with the Olympic Games?
Hours per day that a death-row inmate in China wears hand and ankle restraints:
A multidisciplinary team detected cardiac arrhythmia in the works of Beethoven.
There was a run on cases of 5.56mm M855 green-tip rifle bullets, after the White House moved to ban their manufacture and sale because they can pierce police armor.
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â€śHe could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein â€” literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.â€ť