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Letter bombs made from videocassette boxes, gunpowder, and nine-volt batteries exploded at the Chilean and Swiss embassies in Rome, injuring two. The Informal Federation of Anarchists claimed responsibility for the attack. “This is something they have to do from time to time,” said terrorism expert Gianfranco Pasquino, “to show that they exist.”TimeXinhuaA suicide bomber killed 43 people at a food-distribution center for refugees in Pakistan, and researchers determined that Al-Qaeda is profitable.VOANYTThe Senate ratified the New START arms-control treaty, according to which the United States and Russia will have to reduce their respective nuclear arsenals to only 1,550 warheads and 700 launchers within seven years. NYTNorth Korea threatened nuclear war.ReutersThe results of the 2010 Census were released, indicating that most Northeastern states will lose a House seat. New York will lose two, and Texas will gain four.VOA NewsCongress narrowly passed a bill to fund the federal government until March 4, 2011. WPNew Zealand declassified 60 years of UFO-sighting reports, and UFO watchers buying properties near the allegedly Armageddon-proof French village of Bugarach continued to price out local residents. “This is no laughing matter,” said Bugarach mayor Jean-Pierre Delord.Cleveland ExaminerTelegraphFor the first time since 1638, a total lunar eclipse and a December solstice coincided. WP
On the eve of the second anniversary of the Gaza War, Israel attacked Hamas militants it said were planting a roadside bomb on the Gaza-Israel border, killing two; Hamas responded by launching two Qassam rockets into Israel. “The state of Facebook,” said Israel’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon, “is more real than the state of Palestine.” Ha’aretzVOAThe CIA launched the WikiLeaks Task Force, known internally as the W.T.F., and Julian Assange signed a $1.3 million book deal in order to cover his legal fees.WPABCA small snowstorm gave Atlanta its first white Christmas in 128 years before evolving into a blizzard, charging up the East Coast, and dumping 20 inches of snow on Central Park.Northeast Cobb PatchNYTAn electrician jumped from the balcony of the Romanian parliamentary chamber to interrupt an austerity-measures debate. The austerity budget passed.ReutersScientists discovered an ancient species of humans, called Denisovans, that interbred with modern humans, and a U.S. government report found that teen pregnancies reached a record low last year due in part to the MTV show “16 and Pregnant.”BBCMTV NewsAmateur investigators used the Internet to try to track down a man who filmed himself suffocating two kittens, and Octomom teetered on the brink of homelessness.Daily MailNYDN
The United Nations restored a clause referring to sexual orientation in its resolution against the murder of minority groups, and Pope Benedict XVI, in his Christmas address to cardinals and officials working in Rome, argued that in the 1970s pedophilia was not considered “absolute evil” but was rather “theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children.” BBCIrish IndependentChina banned the use of foreign words in Chinese media due to their “adverse social impacts.” BBCThe New York Metropolitan Transit Authority discontinued subway placards featuring excerpts from the likes of Kafka, Galileo, and Robert Frost and replaced them with service announcements. WSJDuring a performance of the Spider-Man musical, the most expensive production in Broadway history, the actor playing Spider-Man fell more than twenty feet due to an improperly affixed tether, becoming the third Spider-Man to be injured since September. NYTCNNA Georgia man who unknowingly had a pearl lodged in his ear canal for 41 years finally had it removed, and an undertaker about to bury an 88-year-old Brazilian woman noticed she was breathing; the hospital that had declared her dead later reversed its decision.AJCTelegraphPrince Frederic von Anhalt, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s ninth husband, mistook nail glue for eye drops, and Hugh Hefner gave his children the Playboy archives for Christmas.CNNUSA TodayA Dallas man accidentally crashed a vintage car on George W. Bush‘s lawn, and a Chicago cab driver delivered a passed-out passenger to the police, who ascertained that the man was carrying a portable methamphetamine lab and $450,000 worth of drugs. “They found a lot of bad stuff,” said the cab driver, “and I didn’t even get my full fare.”NBCCT
More from Justin Stone:
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 “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’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 they’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 don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’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 — because ocean life pays better than money! — 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