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Rival Afghan and Pakistani militant groups stopped fighting each other to unite against U.S.-led NATO forces in the region. “They have been forced to cooperate due to the effect our collective efforts have had on them,” explained coalition spokesman Lt. Col. Patrick Seiber. U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan killed 21 suspected insurgents, and the Air Force announced plans to deploy a new model of surveillance drone in Afghanistan called the Gorgon Stare. Developed using methods borrowed from ESPN and reality-television shows, the aircraft uses multiple cameras to produce live video of entire towns and cities. “There will be no way for the adversary to know what we’re looking at,” said Maj. Gen. James Poss. “And we can see everything.”NYTPolitics DailyWaPoStudents taking a new course at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in New York were exploring how human thought is simpler and more adaptive than the computations used to program robots. “We look to humans not just because we want to simulate what we do,” explained Professor Vladislav Daniel Veksler, “but also because we’re smart.”Science DailyA bus driver in New Zealand was run over by his own bus, and a South Carolina man was hit by an SUV while crossing a four-lane highway in an apparent attempt to emulate the arcade game Frogger.New Zealand HeraldAPAn Oklahoma man told police he accidentally shot his wife in the head during sexual role-play.CNNA national poll found President Barack Obama to be the most admired man in America and Glenn Beck to be more admired than the Dalai Lama. USA TodayNorwegian biologists determined that fungi and humans have similar circadian rhythms.Science Daily
The Ivory Coast was on the “brink of genocide,” according to Youssoufou Bamba, the country’s newly appointed ambassador to the United Nations. Neighboring African nations and the U.N. have recognized Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the country’s November election, but incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down. More than 170 people have been killed in post-election protests, U.N. investigators have been blocked from alleged mass-burial sites, and Charles Ble Goude, Gbagbo’s “street general,” has warned that Ouattara and the U.N. peacekeepers guarding his residence at Abidjan’s Golf Hotel must “pack their bags and leave.”ReutersAPCNNArmenian police were conducting searches and surveillance in response to reports that “emo” music caused two teens to kill themselves. Alik Sarkisian, Armenia’s top police officer, warned that emo could “damage our gene pool.”AFPThe Chinese government threatened to crack down on “illegal” Internet-based phone services like Skype, which are less expensive and harder to monitor than state telephone services. “What benefits the people is not legal,” complained one Skype user. “I really want to curse out loud.”Radio Free Asia Iran banned the selling of Valentine’s Day cards and gifts; two people were killed and two injured in a shooting at a Phoenix strip club called the Great Alaskan Bush Company; and four Cambodian men were arrested for sword fighting over a woman’s affection. After being “educated” and promising to cease dueling, they were released.AFPAZFamily.comPhnom Penh Post
A crowd that stretched nearly 20 blocks watched the ball drop at midnight on January 1 in Times Square. Revelers in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, watched an 85-pound fiberglass Peep chick get lowered, while residents of Lebanon,Pennsylvania, cheered as a 150-pound bologna was dropped. Near Beebe, Arkansas, more than 1,000 blackbirds dropped from the sky.NewJerseyNewsroom.comWaPoNorth Korean State officials attended a “Concert Celebrating December Holiday” where they enjoyed performances of such songs as “Comrade Kim Jong Il Is Our Supreme Commander,” “Where Are You, Dear General?,” and “Forest is Swaying.”KCNA“Bend It Like Beckham” became the first Western film to be shown on North Korean State TV, and human feces, pornography, and skinny jeans were all enjoying brisk sales in North Korean markets. BBCAFP via Australia Broadcasting ChannelGeraldine Doyle, the Michigan factory worker who was used as a model for World War II-era Rosie the Riveter posters, died, as did E. Gene Smith, founder of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center and curator of the world’s largest collection of Tibetan Buddhist literature outside Tibet. When asked what inspired his life’s work, Smith answered, “Karma, I guess.”AFP via Vancouver SunNYT
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
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 naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby 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.”