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Wikileaks released thousands of military field reports from six years of the war in Afghanistan, including several asserting that representatives of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence met with Taliban leaders to coordinate attacks against American troops and plan assassinations of Afghan leaders, and that the Taliban has been using heat-seeking missiles provided to the mujahideen by the United States during Afghanistan’s Soviet occupation. The reports also describe widespread corruption among Afghanistan’s military and police. “I asked the seven patrolmen we detained to sit and relax while we sorted through a problem without ever mentioning why they were being detained,” one report reads. “Three of the patrolmen responded by saying that they had only taken money from the truck drivers to buy fuel for their generator.” Another report describes what happened after an Afghan civilian protested the rape by a police commander of a 16-year-old girl. “The district commander ordered his bodyguard to open fire on the AC [Afghan civilian],” it says. “The bodyguard refused, at which time the district commander shot [the bodyguard] in front of the AC.” “The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information,” said National Security Adviser General James Jones. “Look,” said a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai about the reports, “this is nothing new.”New York TimesNew York TimesNew York TimesAt least 45 Afghan civilians were killed in Helmand province when a NATO rocket hit a mud house in which they had taken shelter from fighting between NATO and Taliban forces.New York TimesA stampede during the Love Parade, an electronic music festival in Germany, killed eighteen people, and an Arab Israeli was sentenced to 18 months for rape after he slept with a woman under the pretense that he was an eligible Jewish bachelor. New York TimesHaaretz Daily
President Barack Obama signed into law the Restoring American Financial Stability Act, which expands federal regulation to derivatives markets and other previously unregulated areas of the financial system and creates a panel to monitor risks to the financial system. “These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history,” Obama said. Analysts estimated that three quarters of the bill’s substance would be determined later, and congressional Democrats and labor leaders pushed for Elizabeth Warren, the architect of the consumer financial protection bureau created by the bill, to be named its first head. “Symbolically, it does seem incredibly important to pick somebody who not only invented the idea,” said Stephen Lerner of the Service Employees International Union, “but someone who doesnâ??t claim to be a neutral.”New York TimesNew York TimesForbesNew York TimesThe Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13 to 6 to approve Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, sending her candidacy to the full Senate for confirmation. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was the lone Republican to vote in favor of Kagan. “No one spent more time trying to beat President Obama than I did,” said Graham, who was also the only Republican committee member to vote for Sonia Sotomayor. “But President Obama won.”Washington PostWashington PostBP’s board met to decide the future of CEO Tony Hayward, and the rock band Kings of Leon abandoned the stage three songs into a concert in St. Louis after a pigeon shat in their bass player’s mouth.MSNBCBBC
Forensic scientists in Romania dug up the official graves of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu to determine whether the bodies of the former dictator and his wife are really buried there.New York TimesAmazon.com announced that it was selling more ebooks than hardcovers for the first time, and the Library of Congress, which oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, ruled that iPhone owners can legally “jailbreak” their phones to download software that is not approved by Apple.GuardianNew York TimesOfficials revealed that prisoners in a northern Mexican prison had been allowed out at night to moonlight as hitmen using vehicles and weapons provided by prison guards.New York TimesA British hedge-fund manager spent roughly $1 billion on 240,000 tons of cocoa beans in an effort to corner the world cocoa market, and scientists in England were developing Ecobot III, a self-sustaining robot that feeds on biomass, digesting it in an artificial gut and excreting waste into a litter tray. “Diarrhea-bot would be more appropriate,” said the director of the lab working on the project. “It’s not exactly knocking out rabbit pellets.” BBCMSNBC
More from Christopher Beha:
From the Vault — February 7, 2014, 3:15 pm
Is it worth carrying on with the Olympic Games?
Six Questions — May 24, 2013, 8:00 am
Anna Badkhen on life in rural Afghanistan andÂ the friction between violence and beauty
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