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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:
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Average amount of time a child spends in Santa Claus’s lap at Macy’s (in seconds):
Beer does not cause beer bellies.
Following the arrest of at least 10 clowns in Kentucky and Alabama, Tennesseans were warned that clowns could be “predators” and Pennsylvanians were advised not to interact with what one police chief described as “knuckleheads with clown-like clothes on.”
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”