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After denying for weeks that it would request an aid package from other Eurozone nations, Spain accepted a $125 billion bailout in order to recapitalize its insolvent banks and stabilize its financial markets in advance of what are expected to be tumultuous Greek elections. “Nobody pressured me,” said Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy. “I was the one who pressured to get credit.” The spokesman for Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party assaulted two liberal female politicians during a live broadcast of a morning talk show, and U.S. senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) accused the Obama Administration of disclosing for political gain classified information about a successful cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program and about initiatives to target terrorists for assassination by drone. “They’re intentionally leaking information to enhance President Obama’s image as a tough guy for the elections,” said McCain. Obama called such claims “offensive” and “wrong,” and Attorney General Eric Holder appointed two U.S. attorneys to lead criminal investigations into the leaks. Abu Yahya al-Libi, Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, was killed by a drone strike in Pakistan, and Canadian officials put to death a black bear that had eaten the decomposing remains of a convicted murderer. Archaeologists uncovered two medieval skeletons impaled by vampire-hunting villagers in Bulgaria, the world’s oldest fishing implements in the Baltic Sea, and the onetime home of Shakespeare’s players, the Curtain Theatre, in London. Chipping Campden, England, hosted the British shin-kicking championship. “[I] get quite annoyed,” said event judge James Wiseman, “when people think that shin-kicking is quite literally two guys facing each other and kicking each other as hard as possible in the shins.”
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker (R.), whose antiunion policies led more than 900,000 people to sign a petition for his recall, became the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election, winning 53 percent of the vote over Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett. “Bringing our state together will take some time,” said Walker after his victory. “There’s just no doubt about it.” In response to New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban soft-drink servings of more than 16 ounces, a consumer-advocacy group placed an advertisement in the New York Times that portrayed the mayor as a nanny. “Would I wear a dress like that?” asked Bloomberg. “No! It was one of the more unflattering dresses.” The Japanese Atomic Energy Agency removed a public-awareness website comparing radioactive material with an angry woman, and some 50 Egyptian women demonstrating against sexual harassment in Cairo’s Tahrir Square were chased down, groped, and beaten by hundreds of men. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that in recent years two New York City newborns have died and at least two others have suffered brain damage from herpes contracted following their participation in an Orthodox Jewish ritual in which a mohel sucks blood from a freshly circumcised penis. “There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a newborn,” said the city’s health commissioner. Swiss scientists concluded that, on average, people are 13.8 percent more likely to die on their birthdays than on any other day of the year. “There are two camps. One is the camp that suggests you eat too much and you’re getting on a bit and that causes you to die,” said psychologist Richard Wiseman. “The other is a placebo effect. . . . You kept yourself going until your birthday. You think, ‘That’s it, I’ve had enough, I’m out of here.’ ”
Writer Ray Bradbury died at 91, and the Queen’s English Society, which was founded in 1972 to promote proper grammar and punctuation, announced that it would disband because of declining membership. “People don’t want to join societies like they used to,” said the group’s chairwoman. Researchers determined that the personality of a Gouldian finch can be discerned from the color of its head, that virgin male moths intent on pursuing attractive females fly prematurely, and that Bieber fever is more infectious than measles. A truck accident spilled thousands of gallons of pancake syrup beneath Kentucky’s Buttermilk Pike, and Georgia transportation officials were reviewing an application by the Ku Klux Klan to adopt one mile of a Union County highway. “We just want to clean up the doggone road,” said the realm’s exalted cyclops, Harley Hanson. “We’re not going to be out there in robes.” A Canadian mother removed her 13-year-old son from school after its staff allowed him and another student to be tricked into eating moose droppings that a chaperone claimed were chocolate-covered almonds. “You have braces on your teeth and you cannot get excrement out of your teeth because of what your principal did to you,” said antibullying expert Rosalind Wiseman. “That is not a practical joke.”
More from Justin Stone:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”