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Hundreds of thousands of Iranians celebrated the thirty-first anniversary of the Islamic Republic with pro-government demonstrations in Tehran. To prepare for the “disruption free” event, the government arrested opposition supporters, imposed a virtual blockade on text messages and emails, arrested journalists, and sentenced to death a thirteenth opposition activist. On the day of the demonstrations security forces thwarted opposition protesters with tear gas and road blockades. Before the demonstrations, Iran announced that it had produced 20-percent enriched uranium and was planning to triple its uranium production, bringing the country closer to nuclear-weapons capabilities. “Please pay attention,” said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “and understand that the people of Iran are brave enough that if it wants to build a bomb it will clearly announce it and build it and not be afraid of you.”CNNNYTimesWashington PostCNNLA TimesCNNBBCCNNWall Street JournalBarack Obama‘s political campaign was looking to hire a Twitterer.Barackobama.com
Two former employees of security contractor Blackwater (now Xe) accused the company of defrauding the federal government by billing for a Filipino prostitute, whom the company kept on the payroll under the rubric of “Morale Welfare Recreation.”GuardianA strip club in Toledo held a “Lap Dances for Haiti” fundraiser, and the British Lung Foundation released a pamphlet of sex advice for people with lung ailments. “Try coughing up phlegm before sex,” it counsels, “or avoid having sex in the morning when it’s likely you will be producing more phlegm.”Toledo BladeBBCBritish department store Debenhams noted a 76 percent increase in sales of their lift-and-hold men’s underpants in the week before Valentine’s Day.ReutersWomen in Saudi Arabia began boycotting lingerie stores with male employees, a Dubai court annulled the marriage of an ambassador who claimed he was tricked into marrying a bearded, cross-eyed woman, and Kenyan police broke up a gay wedding. BBCBBCNytimesFormer president Bill Clinton was hospitalized with heart trouble, and experts warned of the rise of “Fembots,” predatory software that carries on flirtatious instant-messaging conversations with unsuspecting Internet users, and convinces them to give up personal information such as credit card numbers. “There is a certain part of the population,” said one expert, “who are willing to engage in these kinds of conversations.” NYTimesBBCA woman in Cincinnati was trying to rid her house of the dozens of cats that her husband had forced upon her before he died of drug overdose. “I want other women to know,” she said, “that even though they are in an extreme situation like this they should not give up hope.” Cincinatti EnquirerA poll of people in twenty-three countries found that one out of five people would rather spend Valentine’s Day with their pet.Christian Science MonitorResearchers determined that climate change could make the world more fragrant.BBC
A Swedish man was arrested for stealing the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign from the entrance to Auschwitz, a bronze bust of Colonel Harland Sanders was stolen from a KFC in Kentucky, and hackers stole $4 million worth of carbon credits in European trading markets.BBCLexington Herald-LeaderMother Nature NetworkBorder Patrol officers in El Paso found 30 pounds of marijuana hidden inside framed paintings of Jesus, airport-security officers mistook a woman’s souvenir Faberge egg for a grenade, and a Russian farmer was making landmines to protect his potato fields.CNNMinneapolis PostBBCFormer congressman Charlie Wilson, who funneled $5 billion to Afghan rebels fighting Soviet forces in the 1980s, died at the age of 76, Representative John Murtha, who once called the Iraq war “a flawed policy wrapped in illusion,” died at age 77, and Viva Leroy Nash, who at 94 was the oldest U.S. death-row inmate, died of natural causes.NYTimesHuffington PostBBCGreece announced plans to increase the retirement age from 61 to 63 and to ban early retirement, inciting union walkouts, and a British think tank suggested combating unemployment by shortening the work week to twenty-one hours.BBCBBCSouth Africans celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela, and Benjamin Grundy, a Washington high school student described by his mother as a “bi-racial, mentally challenged, gay male,” claimed that school administrators were discriminating against him by limiting his cheerleading opportunities.BBCKXLYBlizzards in the United States left every state but Hawaii with snow on the ground, and the twenty-first winter Olympic Games opened in Vancouver without enough snow, forcing organizers to postpone several events while they shipped some in.Associated PressChicago Sun TimesIn a practice hours before the opening ceremony, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed when he was thrown from his luge over the side of the luge course, and Olympian Graham Watanabe, a U.S. snowboarder, described in a press conference what it feels like to participate in the Olympic games. “Try to imagine Pegasus mating with a unicorn and the creature that they birth. I somehow tame it and ride it into the sky in the clouds and sunshine and rainbows. Thatâ??s what it feels like.”NYTimesChicago Tribune
More from Genevieve Smith:
From the May 2014 issue
Chances that an American knows the position of his or her senators on health-care reform:
Climate experts proposed creating a fleet of cloud-seeding yachts that will pump water vapor into the atmosphere to thicken global cloud cover, thereby reflecting more sunlight, in order to counteract the effects of global warming.
In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighborâ€™s home.
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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."