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One of the 250,000 American diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks revealed that, after Googling themselves, Chinaâ??s leaders pressured Google to censor its Internet search results last year. Other cables revealed that U.S. diplomats believe Canadians feel “condemned to always play â??Robinâ?? to the U.S. â??Batman,’” and refer to Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin as Batman to President Dmitry Medvedev’s Robin. It was also disclosed that Putin has a close financial and personal relationship with Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, a revelation that prompted Berlusconi to fly to the Black Sea to see him. French president Nicolas Sarkozy was described as seeing “his own rise in the world as reflecting an American-like saga” but also as needing to channel his “impulsive proposals into constructive directions.”NYTNYTBBCGuardianThe AgeNYTWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange threatened to unleash a “thermonuclear device” of 1.3 gigabytes of unexpurgated government files, which he calls his “insurance policy,” if he is forced to appear before authorities. “I believe geopolitics will be separated into pre- and post-Cablegate phases,” he declared of previous WikiLeaks revelations. Assange remained in hiding, as did his mother, Christine, who runs a puppet theatre.The Globe and MailAOLNASA discovered a bacterium called GFAJ-1 which can subsist on arsenic rather than phosphorus, triggering questions about the definition of life on Earth and elsewhere. “Itâ??s like if you or I morphed into fully functioning cyborgs,” said astrobiologist Caleb Scharf, “after being thrown into a room of electronic scrap with nothing to eat.” NYTExaminer.com
Both incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara were sworn in as the winner of the presidential election in CĂŽte d’Ivoire, and President Hosni Mubarak’s governing party in Egypt won a landslide victory when opposition parties decided to boycott the parliamentary elections in protest of alleged fraud in the first round. “At least get creative in how you rig the elections,” said Isham Kassem, a human-rights advocate.Ivory Coast opposition candidate sworn in tooNYTNearly 200,000 uncounted votes from the November 2 elections were discovered to have been lost in New York City. “After a 16-hour day,” explained spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez, “there’s room for error.” NYTSenate Republicans defeated two attempts by Democrats to end Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy and to extend tax cuts for the middle-class, and it was estimated that 15 percent of incoming members of the House of Representatives, of whom 90 percent are Republicans, will sleep in their offices. “I’m not doing this as a political stunt,” said freshman Todd Rokita. “I’m doing this because I’m a cheap bastard.” NYTimesWSJRepresentative Cathy McMorris Rodgers became the first member of Congress to give birth twice while in office, and Speaker-elect John Boehner (R., Ohio) suggested building a womenâ??s bathroom off the House floor. “I understand,” said Parliamentarian John Sullivan, whose office would have to be torn down to make way for the bathroom, “the symmetry of the restroom arrangements.”The HillPolitico
A man in the Disney-built town of Celebration, Florida, killed himself shortly after the first homicide in the town’s 14-year history. “Just because this is Celebration doesn’t mean everyone’s perfect,” said resident Eva Medved.Daily NewsSnoop Dogg dedicated his new single, “Wet,” to Prince William. “Made tha anthem 4 Prince William’s bachelor party,” he tweeted to the royal account, “n all bachelor parties round tha wrld.”Boston.comTwo hundred seventy-one artworks by Pablo Picasso, worth about $80 million, were brought to light by a now-retired electrician who installed the artist’s burglar alarms and claims they were given to him as a gift. BBCA small statue held together with Scotch tape was declared to be Michelangelo’s model for the PietĂ in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, and a wall surrounding the House of the Moralist in Pompeii, so named after its hectoring inscriptions, such as “postpone your tiresome quarrels if you can, or leave and take them home with you,” gave way during a night of heavy rain.TelegraphGuardianSamuel T. Cohen, who designed the neutron bomb, which was intended to kill people but do minimal damage to structures, died. Boston.comA Virginia man who drove past a school bus while it was picking up children was found not guilty by a local jury because the preposition “at” was omitted in a 1970 statute; under current state law, it would only be criminal to fail to stop a stopped bus. The Washington PostNeighbors complained when a white separatist in Idaho erected a pointy-headed snowman holding what appeared to be a noose, and two guests and five workers were stuck in a pub in North Yorkshire, U.K., for eight days, due to heavy snow. “The novelty,” said Katie Underwood, an eighteen-year-old waitress who has worked at the Lion Inn for four years, “is definitely starting to wear off.”Star TribuneTelegraph
More from Emily Stokes:
Conversation — October 24, 2013, 8:00 am
Richard Rodriguez on the essay as biography of an idea, the relationship between gay menâs liberation and womenâs liberation, and the writerly impulse to give away secrets
Six Questions — October 7, 2013, 8:00 am
Dame Margaret Drabble on the essayistic voice in fiction and North London anthropology
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in Californiaâs ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as âinvasive,â âexotic,â âalienâ â all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as âindigenously Californianâ elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a âhome without its mother.â Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the âworldâs biggest selfies,â and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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âShelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.â