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As Tropical Storm Isaac accelerated northward through the Gulf of Mexico, officials at the Republican National Convention in Tampa postponed the formal nomination of Mitt Romney as the party’s presidential candidate from Monday to Tuesday, and Florida governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency. “Preparation is a key to success,” said Scott. “Cigarettes,” said one resident. “I’m stocking up on those.” The storm, which killed several people as it passed over Haiti and temporarily halted ferry service to the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, was expected to become a Category 1 or Category 2 hurricane by the time it makes landfall along the Florida panhandle and Louisiana coast. Supporters of Ron Paul, who was denied a speaking slot at the Republican convention after refusing to fully endorse Romney or allow Romney’s team to vet his speech, held a rally on Sunday near the site of the Republican convention. “Isaac is a distraction,” said the master of ceremonies. “This is liberty.” Senate candidate Todd Akin (R., Mo.), who recently said that women’s bodies are capable of preventing pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape,” affirmed that he would not bow out of the race despite calls for him to do so by prominent Republicans. Romney told supporters during a campaign rally in Michigan that “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate,” in reference to President Barack Obama. “Humor,” Romney later explained. “We’ve got to have a little humor.” The United Nations denied that it would invade Texas in the event that Obama was elected and a second U.S. civil war broke out, following speculation by a Lubbock County judge that it would. “Not even the United Nations,” said a spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “would ever mess with Texas.” In Nepal, a man bit to death a cobra that had bitten him, and in Delaware, three employees of the Hands of Our Future Daycare were arrested after police obtained video showing the workers encouraging two toddlers to fight one another. “He’s pinching me!” complains one child in the video. “No pinching,” responds a worker. “Only punching.”
A Norwegian court declared Anders Behring Breivik sane and sentenced him to indefinite “preventative detention” for the massacre of 77 people last summer. “I wish to apologize to all militant nationalists,” Breivik told the court, “that I wasn’t able to execute more.” Activists reported that hundreds of Syrians had been killed during a government assault on a suburb of Damascus. Nineteen people were shot in seven incidents during a single night in Chicago, and in New York City, police inadvertently wounded nine bystanders in the course of shooting down a suspected murderer outside the Empire State Building. Ethiopian president Meles Zenawi died at 57. Police in Nicaragua caught 18 people smuggling $7 million while disguised as a crew from Mexico’s Televisa television network. Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa announced that the United Kingdom had withdrawn a purported threat to enter his country’s London embassy and arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been sheltered there for two months while facing extradition to Sweden. The website TMZ published photos of a nearly nude Prince Harry carousing in Las Vegas. “The real scandal,” said London mayor Boris Johnson, “would be if you went all the way to Las Vegas and you didn’t misbehave.” A young male mountain lion tried to enter a casino in Reno, but was foiled by a revolving door.
A California jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1 billion for infringing on six of Apple’s patents for mobile devices, a Massachusetts judge upheld an order requiring a former Boston University student to pay $675,000 in damages to the Recording Industry Association of America for pirating 31 songs in the mid-2000s, and the United States Anti-Doping Agency banned seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong for life and stripped him of all titles he won after August 1, 1998, citing evidence that the cyclist had used performance-enhancing drugs. A Los Angeles comedian confessed to having been drunk and on magic mushrooms when he appeared as a contestant on The Price Is Right in May. “We go to local high schools,” he told host Drew Carey after claiming he worked as a skateboard rabbi, “and try to turn religious extremism into religious X-TREMEism!” Researchers discovered that hermaphroditic Siphopteron quadrispinosumsea slugs engage in self-harming nonreproductive sex. A study of Icelandic nuclear families showed that men pass on nearly four times as many new genetic mutations to their offspring as do mothers, and that older fathers pass on more such mutations than do younger ones. White-handed gibbons who were observed calling out after inhaling helium were found to display operatic vocal technique. Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the surface of the moon, died at age 82. “May his vision for our human destiny in space,” said Apollo 11 crewmate Buzz Aldrin, “be his legacy.” On Mars, the rover Curiosity lifted its robotic arm for the first time and went for a test drive across the planet’s surface.
More from Jeff Ernsthausen:
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Number of people stopped and frisked by the NYPD in 2011 for “furtive movements”:
The faces of Lego people were growing angrier.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature