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A gunman opened fire on a “Congress on Your Corner” event held by Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D., Ariz.) in a mall in Tucson, killing six people and wounding more than a dozen. Representative Giffords, the primary target of the attack, was shot at point-blank range in the head but survived and remained in critical condition. Among the dead were U.S. District Court Judge John Roll and nine-year-old Christina Taylor-Green, who was born on September 11, 2001 and attended the meet-up after being elected to her elementary school’s student council. The gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, was apprehended and charged with numerous felonies, including murder and attempted assassination of a member of Congress. The FBI found an envelope at Loughner’s home labeled with the words, “I planned ahead,” “My assassination,” and “Giffords.” “Dear friends,” Loughner wrote on his MySpace page, “please donâ??t be mad at me. The literacy rate is below 5 percent. I havenâ??t talked to one person who is literate.” Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff of Pima County, where the shooting occurred, connected the act to “unbalanced people and how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government,” adding that Arizona was “the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”New York TimesWashington PostArizone StarNew York TimesNewsdayPolitico
Voting began in a week-long secession referendum in Southern Sudan. Jimmy Carter and George Clooney were among those on hand to observe the vote.New York TimesThe Belarussian government was considering seizing custody of the three-year-old son of opposition presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov and investigative journalist Irina Khalip, who have been arrested for organizing a protest against the government.New York TimesThe 112th Congress convened in Washington, and the U.S. Constitution was read on the floor of the House of Representatives. The reading was preceded by an argument between lawmakers over the version of the document being read, which excluded language that had been superseded by later amendments, such as a reference in Article 1, Section 2 to slaves being counted as three fifths of a person each for electoral purposes. The New York TimesIn an apparent violation of the Constitution, two Republican members participated in the reading, which was an official act of Congress, and later cast votes on the House floor, despite having skipped the swearing in ceremony to attend a fundraiser.Huffington Post
Thousands of dead birds fell from the sky in Arkansas, Louisiana,and the Italian town of Faenza; millions of dead fish washed ashore in Maryland and Brazil; and 40,000 dead devil crabs, along with smaller numbers of whelks, sponges, and anemones, washed up on the English coast in Kent.Washington PostMediateLong Island PressGather NewsAssociated ContentThe Daily MailA vulture wearing a transmitter labeled “Tel Aviv University” crossed into Saudi Arabia, where it was arrested by Saudi officials on suspicion of being a Mossad agent. “It might be a Turkish bird,” said Israeli ecologist Ohad Hatzofe. “It might be a Jordanian bird, or even be Saudi Arabian.”Talking Points MemoThe Pentagon announced plans to send an additional 1,400 Marines to Afghanistan to “consolidate gains already achieved,” and a live cockroach was found in the colon of a Philadelphia woman. “The patient had a cockroach infestation at home,” explained the colonoscopy report. “Hence it was hypothesized that she may have inadvertently ingested a cockroach with food.”BBC NewsGizmodoA Minnesota man was charged with the felony creation and possession of an explosive or incendiary device and with felony terroristic threats after filling a sex toy with gun powder and buckshot, wiring it to a remote trigger, and leaving it for an ex-girlfriend as a Christmas present.Waseca County NewsRomanian witches threw mandrake into the Danube and cast spells using cat excrement and dead dogs to protest a new tax on self-employed spell-casters and astrologists. “The lawmakers don’t look at themselves, at how much they make, their tricks,” said a witch named Alina. “They steal and they come to us asking us to put spells on their enemies.”Associated Press
More from Christopher Beha:
From the Vault — February 7, 2014, 3:15 pm
Is it worth carrying on with the Olympic Games?
Six Questions — May 24, 2013, 8:00 am
Anna Badkhen on life in rural Afghanistan andÂ the friction between violence and beauty
Percentage of non-Christian Americans who say they believe in the resurrection of Christ:
A newly translated Coptic text alleged Judasâ€™ kiss to have been necessitated by Jesusâ€™ ability to shape-shift.
Russia reportedly dropped a series of math texts from a list of recommended curricular books because its illustrations featured too many non-Russian characters. â€śGnomes, Snow White,â€ť said a Russian education expert, â€śthese are representatives of a foreign-language culture.â€ť
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Scienceâ€™s crisis of faith