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In Aurora, Colorado, a man wearing a gas mask and other tactical gear entered a midnight screening of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, set off a tear-gas canister, and fired hundreds of bullets at the audience, killing 12 people and injuring more than 50. The suspected shooter, 24-year-old former neuroscience Ph.D. candidate James Eagan Holmes, was believed to have posted a profile on the website Adult Friend Finder in which he described himself as a “nice guy.” “Well,” he wrote, “as nice enough of a guy who does these sort of shenanigans.” Holmes reportedly had with him at the theater a shotgun, two semi-automatic pistols, and a semi-automatic rifle outfitted with a high-capacity ammunition clip, all loaded from a 6,350-bullet stockpile he had purchased online. After he was apprehended in the parking lot, Holmes identified himself as the Joker and directed police to his apartment, which had been booby-trapped with trip wires, chemicals, and improvised grenades, and where techno music may have been rigged to play while the shooting was taking place. “Make no mistake,” said Aurora’s police chief, “this apartment was designed . . . to kill.” Insurgents launched at least 40 simultaneous attacks in 15 cities across Iraq, detonating car bombs and storming marketplaces, government offices, and military and law-enforcement targets. At least 106 people were killed in one day, making it the deadliest in Iraq in over two years. Syrian rebels bombed a crisis meeting at the National Security headquarters in Damascus, killing the country’s national-security chief, defense minister, and deputy defense minister, who is also the brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad. Obama Administration officials said the United States would “accelerate” the strengthening of groups seeking to overthrow Assad, and a Syrian foreign-ministry spokesman said his country would use its chemical and biological weapons only against foreign aggression. “If they exist,” he later added.
Mitt Romney insisted he would not make public the income-tax returns he filed for years prior to 2010. “You know, you should really look at where Mitt has led his life and where he’s been financially,” said his wife, Ann, in a TV interview. “He’s a very generous person.” The American Saddlebred Museum in Lexington, Kentucky, put up for auction Chevaux, a signed painting by a nine-year-old Friesian horse named Justin. In an interview with the Hoover Institute, George W. Bush explained his decision to retire from politics. “Eight years was awesome and I was famous and I was powerful,” he said. “But . . . I crawled out of the swamp and I’m not crawling back in.” The town council of Royston, England, voted unanimously to begin culling local pigeons, which have been coating the town in excrement, rather than feeding them contraceptives or using fire gel to fool them into believing their roosts were ablaze. “There is an advantage to this method,” said a retired councilor. “Shot pigeons give us a food source.” A bobcat broke into a Washington State prison. A teenaged bear roamed from a Walmart to a J.C. Penney to a Sears store at a mall in Pittsburgh. Kent Couch and Fareed Lafta abandoned a tandem flight from Oregon to Montana in lawn chairs lofted by helium-filled party balloons when a thunderstorm forced them to make an emergency crash landing. The pair—who met after Lafta sent Couch, a longtime lawn-chair balloonist, a letter saying he hoped to fulfill a childhood dream inspired by the 1980s cartoon show Care Bears—said they were training for a joint flight over Iraq to cheer orphans. “I made a commitment to Fareed and the orphans of Iraq,” said Couch. “Otherwise I’m on the ground for good.”
Microsoft, which posted a quarterly loss for the first time ever, apologized for including the code “B16B00B5” (BIGBOOBS) in one of its programs. The manager of the Damson Dene hotel in Crosthwaite, England, replaced his rooms’ bedside Gideon bibles with copies of the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. “The Bible remains a source of comfort and inspiration that many people do find helpful,” said local vicar Michael Woodcock. Medieval bras discovered in an Austrian castle were described as a “missing link” in the history of women’s undergarments. Coastal waters near Cape Lookout and Florence, Oregon, were found to be unusually caffeinated. Sewing needles were discovered in turkey sandwiches served to passengers on four Delta flights from Amsterdam. A blind Native American man sued a hospital in South Dakota for leaving him with surgical scars spelling out “KKK” on his abdomen. As Ramadan began, Muslim Olympians debated whether to continue their fasts during the 2012 Games. “I can do it after Ramadan and Allah will accept it because there was an important reason,” said an Egyptian kayaker. Representatives from the gay-hookup app Grindr denied that the influx of Olympic athletes was responsible for a system crash affecting users in East London. “We’d love to believe,” said a spokesperson, “that the best-built men in the world all dressed up in Lycra and congregating in one place can generate a huge increase in Grindr traffic.”
More from Ryann Liebenthal:
Weekly Review — May 19, 2015, 8:00 am
An Amtrak train derails, a Bangladeshi blogger is hacked to death, and an African-American boy who was maced at an anti–police-brutality protest is grateful he wasn’t shot
Weekly Review — February 17, 2015, 8:00 am
A Muslim family is killed over a parking space in North Carolina, Netflix launches in Cuba, and an Indian woman who is 95 percent genetically male gives birth to twins
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
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 tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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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.”