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After weeks of gentle rumbling, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted, covering Northern Europe with black ash and shutting down airports as far away as Ukraine. The disruption in international travel was the greatest since immediately after the September 11 attacks and cost airlines roughly $200 million a day. Some volcanologists predicted that eruptions might continue for as long as two years, creating “volcano weather” throughout the region.New York TimesNew York TimesThe ash kept many world leaders, including President Barack Obama, from joining the 150,000 mourners at the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, who were interred in a crypt in the Wawel Cathedral, which houses the remains of Polish kings, saints, and other national heroes. “This decision has political sense, to use this catastrophe to create, in an artificial way, a new myth or hero,” said Kaczynski’s longtime political rival Aleksander Kwasniewski. “But the Polish people are too clever not to see this intention. Putting him at Wawel is a step too far.” New York TimesJohn Stone, an Iraq veteran and Army medic wearing a Don Mattingly jersey, saved a woman from choking on a hot dog in the stands at Yankees Stadium. “Suddenly this kind of Elijah figure appeared from nowhere,” said the woman’s husband, Rabbi Avi Weiss. Daily News
The SEC filed suit against Goldman Sachs, claiming they defrauded investors by packaging and selling collateralized debt obligations that were designed to fail. According to the complaint, the investment bank created the CDOs at the request of hedge-fund manager John Paulson, so that he could bet against them by way of credit-default swaps. When the housing market collapsed, Paulson made, and investors in the CDOs lost, roughly $1 billion on the deals. “More and more leverage in the system, the whole building is about to collapse anytime now,” wrote Goldman vice president Fabrice Tourre in an email obtained by the SEC. “Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab.”New York TimesA New Jersey man was arrested for intentionally vomiting on an 11-year-old girl at a Philadelphia Phillies game.NBCA memo by Defense Secretary Robert Gates claimed that the U.S. does not have a plan to counter Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb. New York TimesPope Benedict XVI met with eight victims of sexual abuse by Maltese priests, a priest was arrested in a prostitution sting at a New Hampshire hotel, and several spectators were removed from the Museum of Modern Art for handling performers in an installation that involved naked men and women. “He proceeded to slide his hand onto my ribs and back and then touched my butt,” said dancer Will Rawls of one culprit. “As he was passing me he looked me in the eyes and said, â??You feel good, man.â?? “Washington PostABC NewsNew York Times
State legislators in Oklahoma were working with “tea party” members toward the introduction of a bill creating a volunteer state militia to defend against the federal government. “[The Founding Fathers] were not referring to a turkey shoot or a quail hunt,” said State Senator Randy Brogdon. “The Second Amendment deals directly with the right of an individual to keep and bear arms to protect themselves from an overreaching federal government.” Talking Points MemoA “Restore the Constitution” rally was held in a National Park area near the U.S. Capitol, with speakers including Mike Vanderboegh, a former militiaman who encouraged readers of his blog to throw bricks through the windows of Democrats who voted for the health-care bill, and former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, who refused to enforce the Brady handgun-control law.Washington PostFired “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien signed a late-night contract with TBS,New York Timesand radio stations in Somalia stopped broadcasting music in response to an ultimatum by Islamic insurgents. “We have replaced the music of the early morning program with the sound of the rooster,” said the director of Radio Shabelle in Mogadishu, “replaced the news music with the sound of the firing bullet and the music of the night program with the sound of running horses.”New York Times
More from Christopher Beha:
Six Questions — May 24, 2013, 8:00 am
Anna Badkhen on life in rural Afghanistan andÂ the friction between violence and beauty
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word â€śhallwayâ€ť must have a nautical name. Why didnâ€™t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet heâ€™d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands theyâ€™d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you donâ€™t belong to, that doesnâ€™t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isnâ€™t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members â€” because ocean life pays better than money! â€” who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature