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Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, Walid bin Attash, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh were arraigned before a military tribunal at Camp Justice in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for orchestrating the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Six of the victims’ families, who had won the right to attend the hearing in a lottery, watched from behind soundproof glass as the accused protested the conditions of their confinement by refusing to enter pleas and answer questions posed to them by the judge. The defendants also insisted that the entire charge sheet be read out, though prosecutors stopped short of reciting the names of all 2,976 people killed on 9/11. Mohammed, the professed mastermind of the attacks, disrupted the proceedings with a prayer session; another defendant stripped to show scars he said had been inflicted by Guantánamo guards; and two others quietly read The Economist magazine. “Why is this so hard?” asked the judge. An explosion killed six people outside a Kabul housing complex on the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, hours after President Barack Obama visited the city to sign a troop-drawdown pact with the Afghan government. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, rebuked Obama for politicizing the bin Laden assassination. “Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order,” Romney said at a campaign event. Newly released documents obtained during the raid on bin Laden’s compound included critiques of Fox News as “lacking neutrality” and MSNBC as “good and neutral” until it fired Keith Olbermann and “Octavia Nasser the Lebanese,” a plan to rebrand Al Qaeda with a new name, and details of a plot to assassinate Obama. “Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make Biden take over the presidency,” wrote bin Laden. “Biden is totally unprepared for that post.” An American citizen was found guilty of plotting a suicide attack on the New York City subway system. One World Trade Center became the city’s tallest building.
Socialist Party candidate François Hollande defeated Nicolas Sarkozy to become the next president of France. “Austerity can no longer be the only option,” declared Hollande in his victory speech. Analysts speculated that Greece may exit the Eurozone after both the country’s main political parties failed to win a majority in parliamentary elections. A 1990 Volkswagen Golf that once belonged to German chancellor Angela Merkel sold for €10,165 in an online auction, and a California man sued BMW, claiming his motorcycle had given him a 20-month erection. The owner of a 2004 Harley-Davidson motorbike that washed up on Canadian shores after floating across the Pacific with other debris from last year’s tsunami in Japan was identified as Ikuo Yokoyama, a 29-year-old man who lost three family members in the disaster. The Japanese government shut down the country’s last active nuclear reactor. After reaching an agreement with the Chinese government, dissident Chen Guangcheng left the U.S. embassy in Beijing, where he had taken refuge following his escape from house arrest. Chen subsequently requested asylum from an American congressional hearing via speakerphone. “My fervent hope,” he said, “is to leave for the U.S. on Hillary Clinton’s plane.” China blocked mention of The Shawshank Redemption on the popular microblogging service Sina Weibo over concerns that the film’s plot parallels Chen’s story. In Texas, more than 100 suspected illegal immigrants were found locked inside a house without access to food or water, and in California a college student detained during a DEA raid drank his own urine after he was abandoned in a holding cell for five days. Charges were brought against 13 people in the hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major. Wildlife experts speculated that a dolphin trapped in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Orange County, California, may have been the victim of bullying. “People think they are happy loving animals,” said a marine-animal rescue specialist, “but they have a dark side.”
A New Jersey couple discovered 30,000 honeybees in their attic; an Oklahoma City utility blamed a snake for a power outage; and the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., live-tweeted the artificial insemination of a giant panda. Two leopards, two primates, and a bear were returned to the widow of a man who released dozens of exotic animals in Zanesville, Ohio, before committing suicide last fall. In Lake in the Hills, Illinois, a 19-year-old girl bit her family’s bulldog during a fight with her mother. Scientists suggested that teenagers’ brains may predispose them to impulsive behavior, and researchers calculated that every hour on average an American baby is born addicted to painkillers. A man who once ran for governor in Alabama moved to New Zealand to be with the children he secretly conceived as a sperm donor for lesbian couples there. “He is obsessed with this,” said his wife. “He doesn’t want to stop.” Richard Grenell, a gay foreign-policy spokesman for Mitt Romney, resigned after conservative groups suggested his sexual orientation made him a national-security risk. Straight couples were banned from kissing at a Copenhagen gay bar. In Poland, a dentist faced jail time for removing the teeth of her ex-boyfriend after he left her for another woman. “The new girlfriend has now left me,” he said. “She can’t be with a man without teeth.”*
*Update (May 10): The story about the Polish dentist was revealed to have been a hoax. The source web pages have been removed.
More from Jacob Z. Gross:
Weekly Review — March 25, 2014, 8:00 am
Malaysia declares Flight 370 lost, the Westboro Baptist Church loses its patriarch, and Hawaiian police officers fight for their right to have on-duty sex with prostitutes
Weekly Review — February 4, 2014, 8:00 am
The president wants to raise the minimum wage, Pete Seeger and Philip Seymour Hoffman pass away, and a criminal is sentenced to Gladwell
Weekly Review — December 24, 2013, 8:00 am
More NSA surveillance targets are revealed, violence in South Sudan, and claims of U.S. virgin births
Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.
Because of the present comedy boom, civilians are starting to hear about Doug Stanhope from other comedians like Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK. But Stanhope has been building a devoted fan base for the past two decades, largely by word of mouth. On tour, he prefers the unencumbered arrival and the quick exit: cheap motels where you can pull the van up to the door of the room and park. He’s especially pleased if there’s an on-site bar, which increases the odds of hearing a good story from the sort of person who tends to drink away the afternoon in the depressed cities where he performs. Stanhope’s America isn’t the one still yammering on about its potential or struggling with losing hope. For the most part, hope is gone. On Word of Mouth, his 2002 album, he says, “America may be the best country, but that’s like being the prettiest Denny’s waitress. Just because you’re the best doesn’t make you good.”
Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:
Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.
Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.
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Science’s crisis of faith