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President Obama, during a Ramadan dinner at the White House, expressed his support for the First Amendment. “As a citizen, and as president,” Obama said, “I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.” Representative Peter King (R., N.Y.) said that the president had “caved in to political correctness,” and Newt Gingrich accused Obama of “pandering to radical Islam.” Bryan Fischer, director of issues analysis for the conservative American Family Association, wrote on the organization’s website that there should be “no more mosques, period” in the United States. “This is for one simple reason,” he wrote. “Each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.”NYTTPMThe Saudi government was funding the construction of a 2,000-foot-tall clock tower in Mecca that would establish the city as the “true center of the earth,”Telegraphand Iranian Vice President Reza Rahimi lashed out at countries that support U.N. sanctions against his country. British people, Rahimi said, are “not human” and are “a bunch of idiots run by a mafia,” while Australians are “a bunch of cattlemen” and Koreans “need to be slapped.”UKPA
General David Petraeus suggested that he would not recommend large-scale withdrawals of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan starting in July 2011. “The president didn’t send me over here to seek a graceful exit,” Petraeus said.NYTThe U.S. military judge presiding over the trial of Omar Khadr, a 23-year-old Canadian who was captured in Afghanistan when he was 15, ruled that Khadr’s confession to killing an American soldier, although made under threat of rape and death, would be allowed as evidence in his trial. BBCAn Army officer on the jury who said he believed that the Guantánamo Bay detention facility should be closed was removed from Khadr’s trial, which was suspended for thirty days after Khadr’s U.S.-appointed lawyer fainted during opening arguments.IndependentBBCPakistan canceled official independence-day celebrations in the aftermath of floods that have killed 1,600 people, and Russian wildfires created a cloud of toxic smog over Moscow, where the summer death rate had more than doubled and doctors were advised to cease listing heatstroke as a cause of death.BBCGuardianBBCMore than 500 people reported being bitten by vampire bats in the Peruvian Amazon, and the Japanese government was trying to track down almost 200 “missing” centenarians.BBCBBCMountain climbers in Sweden were unnerved by Nazi-inspired names that were given to routes up a Stockholm crag. “It felt rather unpleasant to climb through the ‘Crematorium,’” said climber Cordelia Hess, “or say that ‘now I am going to do Kristallnacht.’”The Local
A motorist in upstate New York was arrested during a traffic stop when police discovered a cat locked in his trunk, “marinating” in pepper, salt, and oil. The driver explained that Navarro, the cat, had been “mean” to him, and was “possessive, greedy, and wasteful.”BuffaloNews.comA Texas man drove more than 12,000 miles around the United States, using a satellite device to trace parts of his route that spell the message “READ AYN RAND.” WiredA Pittsburgh man asked an Allegheny County judge to approve his request to change his name to Boomer the Dog. To support his request, he produced a letter addressed to Boomer from his friend, a man who calls himself Hobnose Bordercollie.Pittsburgh Post-GazetteThe U.S. beef industry was testing methods of cloning dead cows from ideal cuts of meat and mating those clones with natural cows to create the ultimate beef-producing livestock. “We identify carcasses that have certain carcass characteristics that we want,” explained Brady Hicks of the agribusiness firm J. R. Simplot. “Through cloning we can resurrect that animal.”BBCReality TV star and singer Tila Tequila was attacked by an angry mob of Juggalos, fans of the rap group Insane Clown Posse who wear clown makeup. “She’s pretty cut up,” said one witness, who asked not to be identified because he feared Juggalo reprisals. “She didn’t understand the dynamic.”CNNLevi Johnston, father of Sarah Palin’s grandson, announced he would run for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, in 2012, and that his campaign would be the basis for a reality show. Johnston’s manager dismissed skepticism about his client’s political career: “People questioned Jesus Christ, so I definitely don’t care about these mere mortals questioning Levi Johnston.”USA Today
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
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