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Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, came out in support of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. “No matter how I look at this issue,” Mullen testified before Congress, “I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.” U.S. Department of DefenseThe Reuters news service withdrew a report that President Barack Obama was “backdooring” the American middle class with hidden taxes,Christian Science MonitorWhite House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel apologized to Sarah Palin for using the term “fucking retarded,” USA TodayU.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan conceded that Hurricane Katrina was probably not “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans,”Washington Postand James Clyburn, the House majority whip, dismissed fiscal restraint as a viable national economic policy. “We’re not going to save our way out of this recession,” he said. “We’ve got to spend.”The Hill via DrudgeUnderwear Bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab provided federal authorities with actionable intelligence without having been tortured and despite having been offered some of the basic protections of the American legal system.CNN and KYW Radio U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair warned that “malicious cyber activity” was menacing the nation,NY Timesand the federal government was hoarding the genetic information of American newborns.CNNIn Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, the Taliban were ambushing the American military using “ancient signaling techniques”; three people were killed and 17 wounded in a suicide-bomb attack in Kandahar, and a drone strike killed 29 presumed terrorists in northwestern Pakistan, where the Taliban were stalking American soldiers and their hired mercenaries. “We know the movement of U.S. Marines and Blackwater guys,” said a spokesman for the group. “We have prepared suicide bombers to go after them.”NY TimesBBC NewsCNNCNNGeneral Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, insisted that the surge was making “significant progress.”NY TimesAmericans were drinking more cheap booze.USA Today
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that Toyota automobiles were unsafe, then said that they weren’t, then issued a position statement claiming that he would remain “vigilant.”Market WatchAmericans were growing distrustful of their banks, which they accused of being too concerned with the bottom line.NY TimesJustice Clarence Thomas appeared confused as to why newspapers would criticize the Supreme Court’s decision establishing the right of corporations to buy elections. “The people who were editorializing against it were the New York Times Company and The Washington Post Company,” Thomas said. “These are corporations.”NY TimesA court in Israel ruled that Yigal Amir, who in 1995 assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, would remain in indefinite solitary confinement. Amir called the decision “vengeance” and added that “if the purpose here is to punish, [the court] should say so.”BBC NewsAnti-Muslim Europeans were rejecting “political Islam and the symbols of political Islam,” CNNthree headless bodies were discovered in a “narco-grave” in Juarez,CNNand the government of North Korea reported that Pyongangites continued to work with “full confidence” and were “full of hope,” due to the “benefits of socialism” and a bean-flour drink issued to schoolchildren.North Korea News AgencyStudents at Princeton University wanted their grades re-inflated.NY TimesEvangelical Christians were beating non-believers senseless in professional mixed-martial-arts contests, NY Timesand in Haiti, Max Beauvoir, the “supreme master” of voodoo, accused Christian fundamentalists of stealing earthquake-relief supplies. “The evangelicals are in control and they take everything for themselves,” said Beauvoir. “That’s a shame.”Telegraph via DrudgeMuslim doctors were fitting women with exploding breast implants for use in suicide attacks, World Net Daily via Drudgesales of “fashion-forward” bulletproof clothing remained brisk in BogotĂˇ, Colombia, Vice via CNN and a new biography of Warren Beatty confirmed that he is, in fact, vain.NY Times
Research demonstrated that abstinence-based sexual education may work under the following conditions: if it encourages children to delay sex until they are “ready” rather than exclusively until after marriage; if it does not depict all sex outside of marriage as uniformly inappropriate; and if it does not “disparage” condoms. Monica Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, called the findings “exciting” and “a new tool.”Washington PostRoasted nuts were increasingly scarce in New York City,NY Timesand some residents of Lancaster, Texas, were offended by a billboard of a giant cucumber with eyes.CBS2.com via EaterEnglish school administrators were fining parents for spending vacation time with their children,BBC Newswealthy American mothers were struggling to find ways to communicate their parenting demands to their nannies,NY Timesand Jennifer Love Hewitt advised spurned women to glue glass objects to their vulvas. “After a breakup, a friend of mine Swarovski-crystalled my precious lady,” she said. “It shined like a disco ball.”Huffington Post
More from Theodore Ross:
Discussed in this essay:
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.
The extinction symbol is a spare graphic that began to appear on London walls and sidewalks a couple of years ago. It has since become popular enough as an emblem of protest that people display it at environmental rallies. Others tattoo it on their arms. The symbol consists of two triangles inscribed within a circle, like so:
â€śThe triangles represent an hourglass; the circle represents Earth; the symbol as a whole represents, according to a popular Twitter feed devoted to its dissemination (@extinctsymbol, 19.2K followers), â€śthe rapidly accelerating collapse of global biodiversityâ€ťÂ â€” what scientists refer to alternately as the Holocene extinction, the Anthropocene extinction, and (with somewhat more circumspection) the sixth mass extinction.
Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:
Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.
Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.
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Scienceâ€™s crisis of faith