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After President Barack Obama promised to issue an executive order guaranteeing that federal funds will not be used for abortions, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 219-212 to approve the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act. The 2,400-page health-care plan lacks a public option but does provide for state-run health-care “exchanges,” to open in 2014, at which point the uninsured–barring Indian tribes and the very poor–will face fines if they do not have health insurance. The bill also introduces a 10 percent excise tax on indoor tanning salons. Representative Paul D. Ryan (R., Wis.), called the bill “a fiscal Frankenstein”; some protesters reportedly screamed “faggot” at Representative Barney Frank (D., Mass.) and “nigger” at Representative John Lewis (D., Ga.).The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalTPMA Walmart in New Jersey asked all black people to leave, and an Ohio man told police that since January he’s been sucker-punching little children at his local Walmart for thrills.The TelegraphThe Columbus DispatchACORN was close to bankruptcy,The Christian Science Monitorand Thomas Hagan, who shot Malcolm X, was granted parole.The New York TimesA Kentucky man was charged with wanton endangerment after he got drunk and put his five-week-old son to bed in an oven.CNNA small plane crashed onto the beach in Hilton Head, South Carolina, killing a jogger who was wearing headphones.The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionWachovia Bank was fined $50 million, and required to remit a further $110 million, for laundering funds for Mexican cocaine cartels; Mexican police were praying to spirits and sacrificing chickens to protect themselves from drug lords.The New York TimesReutersMembers of the Winnemem Wintu Indian tribe traveled from California to New Zealand to beg forgiveness of the salmon.The New York Times
North Korean finance minister Pak Nam-gi, whose attempts at currency reform failed, was executed by firing squad for being “a son of a bourgeois conspiring to infiltrate the ranks of revolutionaries to destroy the national economy.”The GuardianIndian politicians wanted to ban both black magic and Lindsay Lohan.The TelegraphIndian ExpressScientists found that dogs likely originated in the Middle East, not in Asia, and a rocket fired from Gaza killed a Thai worker in Israel.The NationalAl JazeeraA Swedish report found that the United Arab Emirates is now the fourth-largest importer of weapons in the world.The NationalActing president of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan dissolved his cabinet.XinhuanetResearchers announced that the fire-bombing of Dresden killed only 25,000 people.The Sydney Morning HeraldA Bavarian baby-food company said it was planning to market its product to adults who dislike chewing,The Guardianand psychologists in Arizona found that deep conversations yield more happiness than does small talk.The New York TimesFrance was considering a reversal of the ban on bordellos,The Telegraphand cold weather in Florida led to a U.S.-wide shortage of good tomatoes.Wall Street JournalA fire in Las Vegas killed hundreds of rare birds.Las Vegas Now
Alex Chilton died, aged 59, as did Chaucer scholar Charles Muscatine, aged 89.The New York TimesThe New York TimesUganda’s Kasubi Tombs, burial place of four Kabakas of the Buganda Kingdom, burned down, and three protesters died in the ensuing riots.XinhuanetThe New York TimesDutch officials repudiated a claim by U.S. general and former NATO commander John Sheehan that the gayness of the Dutch army had rendered it unable to defend Srebrenica against the Serbs,Al Jazeeraand the Vatican was investigating the daily appearances in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, of the Virgin Mary, who is crowned with stars and floats upon a cloud.BBC NewsPope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to Ireland to apologize for the sexual abuse of children by Church leaders,The Miami Heraldand a lawyer in Oregon was planning to release the Boy Scouts’ “perversion files,” a secret archive of 1,000 documents identifying Scout molesters.Yahoo! NewsA cable network in North Carolina played two hours of porn on the Kids On Demand channel.BBC NewsA South London fox was accused of stealing from a shallow grave and devouring the corpse of a pauper infant. “The rule,” explained a local gravedigger, “is four babies per grave.”Daily MailYellow dust coated Beijing,ABC Newsand archaeologists in the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang uncovered the burial grounds of an unnamed people with European features who died nearly four millennia ago and whose mummies were buried upside down in boats, in the desert, beneath graves marked by tall, phallic poles.The New York TimesThe citizens of Somerton, Arizona, dug up a time capsule from 1985 and found a VHS tape and a copy of “Time” magazine.7 News
More from Paul Ford:
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, Hill and Wang (N.Y.C.)
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”