Egypt teeters precariously, cat zombies and zonkeys live, and a hexapus dies
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Egypt teeters precariously, cat zombies and zonkeys live, and a hexapus dies
In Cairo, security forces loyal to General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi opened fire on supporters of deposed Egyptian president and Muslim Brotherhood party leader Mohamed Morsi, killing at least 83 people. Police detained 73 protesters and two Islamist political leaders, and the Muslim Brotherhood called for a million people to march in Cairo on Tuesday. Egyptian officers, said interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim, “have never and will never shoot a bullet on any Egyptian.” In a suburb of Tunis, two gunmen assassinated People’s Party leader Mohamed Brahmi in front of his wife and children. In Benghazi, Libya, more than 1,000 prisoners escaped the Kuafiya prison and pro-democracy activist Abdelsalam al-Mismari was shot and killed as he left a mosque. Syrian government forces killed 19 children and 10 adults in a missile attack on Aleppo, and the United Nations announced that more than 100,000 people have now died in the Syrian civil war. “It is thus imperative,” said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “to have a peace conference in Geneva.” The Obama Administration announced plans to repatriate two Algerian prisoners being held at Guantánamo Bay. Neuroscientists at MIT gave mice false memories of having had their feet shocked inside a box. George H. W. Bush shaved his head. Attorney general Eric Holder announced that the United States would not seek the death penalty against Edward Snowden for leaking information about the National Security Agency’s spying programs, and the NSA asked a reporter from ProPublica to modify a Freedom of Information Act request because it has “no central method to search an email.” Turkey exonerated a kestrel accused of spying for Israel, and Indian scientists confirmed that bright lights detected over Indian airspace and suspected of being Chinese drones were in fact Jupiter and Venus.
Spanish authorities filed 79 charges of negligent homicide against the driver of a train that crashed while reportedly traveling 121 mph along a tight curve near Santiago de Compostela. Pope Francis celebrated World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro by donning a ceremonial headdress given him by a shirtless man from the Pataxo tribe, visiting the impoverished Varginha favela, and speaking on Copacabana Beach before crowds estimated at 1.5 million and 3 million. “Possessions, money, and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us,” said the Pope. “I’m pretty surprised that people who call themselves Christians would throw away all this food,” said a bottle-picker. A New York Times investigation found that U.S. investment banks were causing consumer-price increases by stockpiling such commodities as aluminum, coffee, cotton, oil, and wheat, and that Goldman Sachs was shuffling aluminum among warehouses outside Detroit in order to delay the metal’s entry to market. “It’s a merry-go-round of metal,” said a forklift operator. Parisian gendarmes seized 60 tons of tin Eiffel Tower replicas, and a gunman stole $136 million worth of jewels from the Cannes hotel featured in the Alfred Hitchcock film To Catch a Thief. A wrongful-death lawsuit was filed against a Michigan man who wrote “Kill Kathie Kill Kathie Kill Kathie!!!!!” on a chore list before killing his wife, and a man believed to have killed five seniors in Shunan, Japan, was arrested on a mountain near his home, where police found a haiku in a window that read “Setting a fire/ smoke gives delight/ to a country fellow.” The London Fire Brigade speculated that the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey might be responsible for a rise since 2010 in emergency calls from people needing to be freed from restraints.
New Jersey hospitals were preparing for a 20 percent increase in births, anticipated because of a rise in conceptions during October’s Hurricane Sandy. “People just love hurricanes and sex,” said an economics professor. Virginia E. Johnson, co-author of the pioneering 1966 book Human Sexual Response, died at 88, and New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner was revealed to have exchanged graphic messages and photographs on the Internet under the pseudonym Carlos Danger following his resignation from Congress for similar activities in 2011. “He’s really not a changed man,” said the editor who broke the story. “He’s Carlos Danger.” A Greek teenager shot himself in the foot to impress a girl. Peahens were found to evaluate peacocks by the width and motion, not the ornamentation, of their trains. Officials in Los Angeles closed three campgrounds after diagnosing a squirrel with plague, and six feral cats knocked down a woman in Belfort, France, and pierced one of her arteries. “Cats are not new zombies of the apocalypse,” said a veterinarian. A zonkey named Ippo was born in Florence, an albino African hedgehog gave birth to triplets in a Moscow zoo, and Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, named their newborn son George Alexander Louis. A spectator threw a banana at Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s first black cabinet minister, while she spoke at a rally, and an American family vacationing in Greece caught the second hexapus ever seen in the wild, then ate it with tomato and lemon. “It tasted just like a normal octopus,” said the father, “but now I feel really bad.”
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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.”