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A car bomb in a residential neighborhood of Beirut injured dozens and killed eight, including Wissam al-Hassan, the intelligence chief of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, who earlier this year produced evidence of a plot by neighboring Syria to sow conflict in Lebanon through bombings and targeted murders. Following al-Hassan’s funeral, hundreds of protesters descended on the offices of prime minister Najib Mikati, a supporter of Syria’s governing regime, leading to clashes with security forces that left at least seven dead. “After this assassination, I feel like my whole country is at risk,” said Michel Matta, who attended the funeral. “Every person who calls for Lebanon’s independence ends up in the grave.” In Damascus, where a car bomb injured 29 and killed 13 during a visit by U.N. peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad ordered repairs to a twelfth-century mosque that was damaged during a recent battle with opposition forces. “He burns down the country and its heritage, and then says he will rebuild it,” said activist Mohammad al-Hassan. “Why do you destroy it to begin with?” During a pretrial hearing at Guantánamo Bay, whose mildewed and rodent-infested legal offices the U.S. Navy agreed to give a “comprehensive” cleaning, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused orchestrator of the 9/11 attacks, was granted the opportunity to address the court. “Many [governments] can kill people under the name of national security,” said Mohammed, “and torture people under the name of national security, and detain children under the name of national security.” Police in Britain apologized for tasering a blind middle-aged man after mistaking his walking stick for a samurai sword.
In a debate with President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney said that he took action, as governor of Massachusetts, to seek out female applicants qualified for high-level positions in his administration. “I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks?’ ” said Romney. “And they brought us whole binders full of women.” It was later revealed that a coalition of state women’s groups had initiated the search. Representative Todd Akin (R., Mo.) likened his Senate-race opponent, Claire McCaskill, to a dog who goes to Washington to “fetch” tax burdens. Former senator and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern, whom Obama called “a statesman of great conscience and conviction,” died aged 90. French president François Hollande announced a plan to ban homework, which he said favors the wealthy, and Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn admitted to employing workers as young as fourteen at a plant in northeastern China. Software developer Michael Brutsch, who lost his job and received death threats after he was revealed to be the architect of such subforums as “Jailbait” and “Pics of Dead Kids” on the website Reddit, explained his creative methodology in an interview. “I’d find porn of different types,” said Brutsch. “Like if it was a picture of an African-American woman, I created a Reddit called ‘Women of Color.’ If it was, you know, a woman with large breasts, I created a Reddit called ‘Boobies.’ ” An Orlando man who started having sex with his date on a restaurant table in view of young children, and who then refused to pay the bill, was arrested on a charge of defrauding an innkeeper, and Serbian widower Milan Marinkovic honored his wife’s dying wish by having a likeness of her vagina engraved on her headstone. “This way,” said Marinkovic, “a part of her will always be with me.”
A Wisconsin man whose wife had taken out a restraining order against him shot seven women, killing three, at the spa where his wife worked, then killed himself. The Justice Department disclosed that the rate of violent crime in the United States increased last year for the first time since 1993, and Scotland Yard banned police officers from getting tattoos on their faces and hands. Ulaanbaatar took down its last remaining statue of Vladimir Lenin, which it will auction at a starting bid of $280, and a Florida man was arrested for smuggling a Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton out of Mongolia. A paleoanthropologist determined that prehistoric man ate pandas, researchers disproved the Five-Second Rule, and a cat discovered 2,000-year-old catacombs in Rome. A Danish pornography website announced a contest that would award an iPhone to the entrant with the smallest penis. “It’s a competition which is at the core of manhood,” said site owner Morten Fabricius. A Seattle man was arrested for the 1976 murder of an elderly woman after an undercover policeman obtained DNA from him by pretending to conduct a chewing-gum survey, and a former McDonald’s proprietor from North Dakota sold a 20-year-old jug of McJordan barbecue sauce, developed for the limited-production McJordan hamburger in the early 1990s, for $9,995. “I had this barbecue sauce on the shelf for 20 years,” said seller Mort Bank. “It’s probably edible.”
More from Justin Stone:
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, Hill and Wang (N.Y.C.)
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”