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A 15-year-old schoolgirl named Malala Yousafzai was flown from Pakistan to the United Kingdom for medical care after being shot in the head by masked Taliban militants in the Swat Valley. Yousafzai, who at the age of 11 began blogging for the BBC’s Urdu service under the pseudonym Gul Makai (“cornflower”), was targeted for championing girls’ education rights. “She has become a symbol of Western culture in the area,” said a Taliban spokesman. “She symbolizes the brave girls of Swat,” said a local filmmaker. Members of the Pakistani Taliban said they would target journalists for giving the attempted assassination “undue” coverage and for unfairly portraying the Taliban as the “worst people on earth.” While performing in Los Angeles, Madonna dedicated a striptease and a song to Yousafzai. “Do you realize,” asked Madonna, “how sick that is?” Australian prime minister Julia Gillard spoke for 15 minutes on the floor of the country’s House of Representatives after Tony Abbott, the leader of the conservative opposition, castigated her for supporting Peter Slipper, who resigned as house speaker following the publication of text messages he sent likening the female genitalia to “shell-less mussels.” “Another day of shame for a government which should already have died of shame,” said Abbott, echoing comments made by a radio host who suggested that Gillard’s recently deceased father had “died of shame” at his daughter’s behavior as prime minister. “Now he is looking at his watch,” Gillard said of Abbott, who was across from her on the House floor, “because apparently a woman’s spoken too long.” A charity in Belfast prepared to open Ireland’s first abortion facility. “What is the need for this clinic?” asked a Protestant lawmaker. “There couldn’t possibly be one.”
Mitt Romney, campaigning in Iowa, said that there was “no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda”; several hours later, the candidate’s spokeswoman said that a Romney administration “would, of course, support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life.” In a debate with Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, Vice President Joe Biden said that the Obama Administration had received no requests for additional security from the U.S. consulate attacked last month in Benghazi. In testimony before a congressional committee, Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, who until August led a 16-person diplomatic-security detachment in Libya, said several such requests had gone unmet. “We were the last flag flying,” said Wood. “It was a matter of time.” Former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter died of complications from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. “Arlen wanted to die in the Senate,” said Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, “and in many ways he should have.” In the United Kingdom, David Cameron’s government announced plans to raise from “reasonable” to “disproportionate” the level of violent self-defense legally available to those being burgled, but cautioned homeowners not to engage in any “grossly disproportionate” acts. “You couldn’t, for instance, stab a burglar if they were unconscious,” said Cameron. A woman aquabiking off the French Riviera was attacked by an octopus, and Jean-François Copé, the secretary general of France’s center-right opposition, lamented what he said was widespread bullying of French youths by devout Muslims. “There are areas,” said Copé, “where children cannot even eat their pains au chocolat because it’s Ramadan.”
NASA’s Curiosity team announced the results of the Mars rover’s examination of Jake Matijevic. In Iceland, where young leftists endorsed the construction of a vulva museum and cafégoers paid extra to have their coffee served to them angrily, chemists concluded that bits of sausage left outside a dog show south of Reykjavík last month were laced with rat poison. “It is an inexplicable act,” said the director of Rex, a local dog-owners’ club. A Russian antigay organization in St. Petersburg called for an investigation into milk labeled with rainbows, and the Tunisian children’s magazine Rainbow published a guide to making Molotov cocktails. Researchers found that slime molds have difficulty navigating slime-covered mazes and that Chinese soft-shelled turtles living on dry land seek out puddles in which to urinate orally. Newts halted the construction of a primary school in Northamptonshire. Orthodox Christians on Mount Athos, an autonomous monastic republic in northeastern Greece where the only females allowed are cats, took in pilgrims seeking respite from the financial crisis in the European Union, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Paddy Roy Bates, monarch of Sealand, an unrecognized principality located on a World War II–era artillery platform six miles off the British coast, died at the age of 91. A man in Mobile, Alabama, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a miniature horse named Ebony Ice. “It’s pretty disturbing, probably top 10 disturbing case,” said Judge Joseph “Rusty” Johnston. “The horse,” said defense attorney Robert “Cowboy Bob” Clark, “is not able to procreate.” A rhesus macaque who has been roaming Tampa Bay for several years mauled a local woman. “I don’t go outside very often,” said the victim’s daughter. “I don’t trust the monkey.”
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.”