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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by an argument between lawmakers over the version of the document being read, which excluded language that had been superseded by later amendments, such as a reference in Article 1, Section 2 to slaves being counted as three fifths of a person each for electoral purposes.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 February 2015 issue
From the Vault — February 7, 2014, 3:15 pm
Is it worth carrying on with the Olympic Games?
For the past three years my dosimeter had sat silently on a narrow shelf just inside the door of a house in Tokyo, upticking its final digit every twenty-four hours by one or two, the increase never failing â€” for radiation is the ruthless companion of time. Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly. During those three years, my American neighbors had lost sight of the accident at Fukushima. In March 2011, a tsunami had killed hundreds, or thousands; yes, they remembered that. Several also recollected the earthquake that caused it, but as for the hydrogen explosion and containment breach at Nuclear Plant No. 1, that must have been fixed by now â€” for its effluents no longer shone forth from our national news. Meanwhile, my dosimeter increased its figure, one or two digits per day, more or less as it would have in San Francisco â€” well, a trifle more, actually. And in Tokyo, as in San Francisco, people went about their business, except on Friday nights, when the stretch between the Kasumigaseki and Kokkai-Gijido-mae subway stations â€” half a dozen blocks of sidewalk, which commenced at an antinuclear tent that had already been on this spot for more than 900 days and ended at the prime ministerâ€™s lair â€” became a dim and feeble carnival of pamphleteers and Fukushima refugees peddling handicrafts.
One Friday evening, the refugeesâ€™ half of the sidewalk was demarcated by police barriers, and a line of officers slouched at ease in the street, some with yellow bullhorns hanging from their necks. At the very end of the street, where the National Diet glowed white and strange behind other buildings, a policeman set up a microphone, then deployed a small video camera in the direction of the muscular young people in drums against fascists jackets who now, at six-thirty sharp, began chanting: â€śWe donâ€™t need nuclear energy! Stop nuclear power plants! Stop them, stop them, stop them! No restart! No restart!â€ť The police assumed a stiffer stance; the drumming and chanting were almost uncomfortably loud. Commuters hurried past along the open space between the police and the protesters, staring straight ahead, covering their ears. Finally, a fellow in a shabby sweater appeared, and murmured along with the chants as he rounded the corner. He was the only one who seemed to sympathize; few others reacted at all.
Number of U.S. congressional districts in which trade with China has produced more jobs than it has cost:
Young bilingual children who learned one language first are likelier than monolingual children and bilingual children who learned languages simultaneously to say that a dog adopted by owls will hoot.
An Oklahoma legislative committee voted to defund Advanced Placement U.S. History courses, accusing the curriculum of portraying the United States as â€śa nation of oppressors and exploiters.â€ť
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â€śHe could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein â€” literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.â€ť