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An earthquake with a Richter magnitude of 5.9 and an epicenter in Mineral, Virginia, shook much of the East Coast, and Irene, a Category 1 hurricane, made landfall in North Carolina and continued up the Atlantic seaboard, killing at least 38 people in 10 states. The unusually large and slow hurricane caused an estimated $7 billion in damages, mostly due to flooding, and left millions of people without power. In Tuxedo Park, N.Y., Irene pushed at least 15 heating-oil trucks into the Ramapo River, spilling large amounts of fuel into the water. “An environmental disaster is floating down the river,” said Tuxedo Park mayor Tom Wilson. Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul questioned the need for a federal response to hurricanes. “We should be like 1900; we should be like 1940, 1950, 1960,” he said.ABC NewsSlateAssociated PressAll Things DigitalMyFoxNYWall Street JournalNew York TimesMSNBCAustralian geoscientists uncovered 3.4-billion-year-old petrified bacteria, the worldâ??s oldest known fossils; astronomers spotted a zombie supernova 21 million light years from Earth and a diamond planet 4,000 light years away; Northwestern researchers learned that bisexual men exist; World Wildlife Fund scientists observed a new species of titi monkey in the Brazilian Amazon; and Libyan forces hunting for Muammar Qaddafi uncovered a photo album dedicated to former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in the deposed colonelâ??s Tripoli compound. “I donâ??t need to see the photos,” said a State Department spokeswoman. “But â??bizarreâ?? and â??creepyâ?? are good adjectives to describe much of Qaddafiâ??s behavior.”Science DailyReutersScience DailyThe GuardianNew York TimesNew York TimesNew York TimesAP via The Australian
A CIA drone in Pakistan killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, Al Qaedaâ??s second-ranking figure and top operational planner.New York TimesDozens of Syrian soldiers defected after being ordered to open fire on civilian protesters, and the secretary-general of the Arab League traveled to Damascus to urge Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to end the bloodshed “before it is too late.” Turkish president Abdullah Gul told his countryâ??s Anatolia news agency that he had lost confidence in Assad. â??â??Today in the world there is no place for authoritarian administrations, one-party rule, closed regimes,â??â?? Gul said. Iran called on Assad to answer his peopleâ??s “legitimate” demands, but continued to provide material support for his crackdown.ReutersSydney Morning HeraldNew York TimesDrug-cartel enforcers burned down a casino in Monterrey, Mexico, killing 53 people.Associated PressA car bomb set off by a Boko Haram suicide attacker at the United Nationsâ?? headquarters in Nigeria killed 23 people, a suicide attack on a Sunni mosque in Baghdad killed 28, and former vice-president Dick Cheney predicted that heads would be “exploding all over Washingtonâ??â?? when his memoir is released on August 30. In the book, Cheney reveals that he was unconscious for several weeks following a 2010 heart attack, expresses regret that the Bush administration didnâ??t bomb Syria, and details friction in the federal government in the days after 9/11. “Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma asked why the executive branch had the right to decide when members of Congress, a coequal branch of government, could come back to Washington,” Cheney writes, adding that he answered, “Because weâ??ve got the helicopters, Don.”NPRChannel 6 newsWashington PostLA TimesPolitico
An Iowa woman was fined for a towel assault on a salon worker after being denied a bikini wax because she was intoxicated, federal agents raided two Gibson Guitar factories in Tennessee in search of illegal wood, and a Nashville interstate on-ramp was briefly closed after four canisters of bull semen fell from a Greyhound. “The bus did not know it lost its load,” reported WKRN-TV.The Smoking GunWall Street JournalWKRN-TVPolice said that the parents of a ten-year-old Dallas boy who died last month of dehydration had denied him water as punishment for wetting his bed, and an Alaska jury convicted an Anchorage mother who had sent in a video of herself disciplining her screaming adopted son with hot sauce and a cold shower for a “Dr. Phil” segment. “They concluded that it is child abuse,” said the prosecutor, “to hurt your child as an audition for a television show.” “The way the law is written,” said the womanâ??s lawyer, “makes it really difficult for a parent to discipline your kids and not be subject to other people’s subjective ideas of what is right or wrong.”Dallas Morning NewsSydney Morning HeraldGlenn Beckâ??s Restoring Courage tour arrived in Jerusalem for a rally in the Old City. “The world is burning,” he told a crowd of mostly American Christians. “Whatever weâ??ve grown to think is solid and strong and durable is under siege.”GuardianThe Washington Monument cracked, and actress Kate Winslet rescued the 90-year-old mother of Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson from a fire on his private Caribbean isle. “I’d jumped out of bed naked and rushed to the [burning] Great House,” said Branson, “and ran straight into a cactus bush.”PoliticoAP via Globe and Mail
More from Christopher Beha:
Six Questions — May 24, 2013, 8:00 am
Anna Badkhen on life in rural Afghanistan andÂ the friction between violence and beauty
Price charged by a Ukrainian company for a half-day tour of the Chernobyl nuclear-plant site:
Male Abdopus aculeatus octopuses may strangle to death rivals in defending the females whom they have seduced by swimming in a feminine manner.
A study led by a physician at Imperial College London posited that Gollum would have defeated Bilbo Baggins in J. R. R. Tolkienâ€™s The Hobbit had he sunned himself more often or eaten quiche instead of blind fish.
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Notes on South Africaâ€™s failed revolution
â€śI will never know what goes on in your mind, or what that shield of a smile behind which we try to advance should tell us.â€ť