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Jorge Rafael Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, leaders of the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983, were found guilty of ordering the abductions of dozens of children born to leftist mothers imprisoned in the regime’s clandestine torture centers. Testifying in his own defense, Videla had called the mothers, many of whom were later dropped from airplanes into the Atlantic, “active militants in the machinery of terrorism.” Crowds outside the courthouse in Buenos Aires cheered the verdicts. “My life started all wrong,” said Alejandro Sandoval, one of the estimated 500 children stolen during the Dirty War. “But today there are reasons to celebrate.” Islamist militants attacked a mosque in Timbuktu, destroying a door that had been prophesied to remain closed until the apocalypse, and a meeting in Cairo of groups opposed to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad devolved into weeping and fistfights after a Kurdish delegation stormed out. “They are so different, chaotic, and hate each other,” said an Arab League official of the opposition. Human Rights Watch released Torture Archipelago, a report detailing abuses by the Syrian regime and including a description of one torture method known as the “flying carpet.” Assad reaffirmed his commitment to peace. “The United States is against me, the West is against me,” he said, “so how could I stay in this position? The answer is I still have public support.” One in eight Americans disagreed with the premise set forth in the Declaration of Independence that a government derives its legitimacy from the people.
Physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced the discovery of what is thought to be the Higgs boson, an elementary particle that endows other particles with mass. “It is very much a smoking duck that walks and quacks like the Higgs,” said one physicist. “It’s the Higgs,” said another. “Nobel prizes all round.” Vincent Connare, the designer of Comic Sans, announced his support for a petition to rename the typeface Comic Cerns, after one of CERN’s presenters used it in her slideshow. A Swiss laboratory found traces of polonium-210 on clothing worn by Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat shortly before his death, prompting Arafat’s widow to demand that his body be exhumed and autopsied. An adviser to former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon insisted that Arafat could not have been poisoned by government operatives, because Sharon “didn’t think his physical liquidation would help.” The first Miss Holocaust Survivor began her reign in Israel. Several thousand men set out on a 68-mile march through the hills of eastern Bosnia to commemorate their escape from the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced that Afghanistan would be granted the status of special ally of the United States. Afghan president Hamid Karzai marked the occasion by quoting a Persian proverb: “When a friend is alive, they will meet again.” A Fourth of July fireworks spectacle in Narrowsburg, New York, was canceled out of concern that the town would incur fines if it disturbed bald eagles nesting nearby. “It’s real ironic that we’re celebrating our independence, but you can’t be independent with our celebration,” said a volunteer fireman. Barack Obama, campaigning in Ohio, paused for a Budweiser, and Mitt Romney, vacationing in New Hampshire, paused for a lemonade. “I’m feeling good, feeling steady,” said Obama. “Lemon,” said Romney. “Wet.”
Happy hour came back to Kansas. Physicists photographed the shadow cast by a lone ytterbium atom, biologists found that shrews shiver to warm themselves before undertaking cold-water dives, and ecologists observed male mourning cuttlefish courting and cross-dressing simultaneously. A woman was suing Iceland’s interior ministry because its Name Committee ruled she could not name her daughter Blær, a masculine noun meaning “tint.” Rufus, an American Harris hawk responsible for chasing pigeons from the Wimbledon tennis championships, was stolen from a parked car. Groundskeepers at Wimbledon, where grass coverage on some courts’ baselines had dropped as low as 10 percent, were using high-powered Billy Goats to vacuum up debris, and officials in Washington’s Olympic National Forest were urging hikers not to urinate on trails because the resulting salt slicks attract aggressive mountain goats. “We’re second only to Alaska,” said a wildlife manager, “in terms of how many goats we have.” Researchers found that 8 percent of American teens suffer from intermittent explosive disorder (IED), a psychological condition characterized by unpredictable paroxysms of rage, and that a bioluminescent bacterium dwelling symbiotically in the guts of microscopic worms possesses a DNA “madswitch” that causes it to produce insecticidal toxins. The Pentagon’s inspector general recommended that Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, be disciplined for verbally abusing his subordinates. “If I could get my hands through the phone right now,” O’Reilly reportedly said during a staff teleconference, “I’d choke your fucking throat.” Duncan Brannan, who voiced Chuck E. Cheese for 19 years, was replaced as part of a brand makeover by the lead singer of the pop-punk band Bowling for Soup. “I hope,” wrote Brannan in a letter to fans, “that you have seen Christ in me.”
More from Anthony Lydgate:
Weekly Review — April 8, 2014, 8:00 am
Afghanistan votes, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of wealthy political donors, and China standardizes its pets
Weekly Review — February 25, 2014, 8:00 am
Upheaval in Ukraine, yobbery in the United Kingdom, and a historic douche in the United States
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.”