For the first time since taking office, U.S. president Barack Obama visited Israel, where he assured president Shimon Peres of “America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security” and told prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “It’s good to get away from Congress.” In a speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center, Obama urged Israelis to pressure their government into resuming peace talks with Palestine. “Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land,” he said. “Put yourself in their shoes.” Protesters in Gaza struck photographs of Obama with the soles of their shoes, and demonstrators near the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank held signs that read, “Gringo, return to your colony.” Obama viewed the Dead Sea Scrolls in Israel, a Palestinian youth dance group in Ramallah, and the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. Iraqi newspaper Al Mada ran a story headlined “Obama Visited the Region but Ignored Iraq,” and secretary of state John Kerry made a surprise trip to Baghdad, where he engaged in a “spirited” discussion with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki about the need for Iraq to block Iranian arms shipments to Syria. “[Hillary Clinton] told me that you’re going to do everything that I say,” Kerry quipped. “We won’t do it,” Maliki replied. The government of Lebanon collapsed, Israel fired a missile at a Syrian army post, and Syrian opposition leader Moaz Khatib stepped down amid controversy over his coalition’s appointment of an expatriate from Texas as prime minister of rebel-held regions. “Syria is now like a fallen calf,” said the wife of a Damascus dentist. “All the butchers have gathered around and they’re sharpening their knives.” Canadian yoga-clothing company Lululemon recalled 17 percent of its women’s bottoms because their fabric was sometimes too sheer. “The only way that you can actually test for the issue,” said chief executive Christine Day, “is to put the pants on and bend over.”
Cyprus finalized a plan to raise $7.5 billion demanded by the European Central Bank in exchange for an emergency bailout of €10 billion ($13 billion) from the bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission. As part of the deal, the country — a notorious tax haven and a suspected money-laundering hub for Russian oligarchs — agreed to force holders of accounts containing more than €100,000 in deposits at the second-largest Cypriot bank to accept losses of up to 40 percent. Billionaire Boris Berezovsky, whom Russian state media called an “evil genius” and “the most odious oligarch of the 1990s” was found dead in his English mansion. Detroit’s new emergency financial manager was found to owe $15,797.68 in unpaid taxes, and the head of Colorado’s prison system was fatally shot in his home. A screaming pregnant woman with a stun gun concealed in her bra chased down a Seattle bike messenger and hit him in the face. Three Englishmen dressed as Oompa Loompas were charged with assaulting a diner at a Norwich kebab shop, and police were investigating the overnight disappearance of a bridge in the Gölçük district of western Turkey. “Now we have to take our socks off to cross the creek,” said resident Mustafa Karakas. A housekeeper at the United States Military Academy at West Point was being tried in federal court for the theft of a bag of meatballs, a serial lobster thief was apprehended in Duluth, and the state of Montana moved to legalize the consumption of roadkill. “It really is a sin,” said state senator Larry Jent (D.), “to waste a good meat.”
Obie, a morbidly obese dachshund from Puyallup, Washington, regained his ability to run. A Cape Cod urology clinic was offering a free pizza with every vasectomy; Bill Gates pledged to award $100,000 to anyone who could invent a “game changing” condom; Harry Reems, the male lead of the 1970s porn film Deep Throat, died at 65; and a drama professor at the University of Alberta was reportedly advising voice students to massage their throats with a vibrator. “What I’m trying to do,” said David Ley, “is to help the person hit that high note.” A truck crash in Whangarei, New Zealand, that spilled more than 3,000 gallons of glue left roads dangerously slippery, and a school in Canvey Island, England, banned triangular flapjacks. An American philanthropist bought the house across the street from the antigay Westboro Baptist Church and painted it to resemble a rainbow pride flag. “The zip code, if you can believe it, is 6-6-6-0-4,” he said. A French mother was awaiting a verdict in her trial for sending her three-year-old son, Jihad, who was born on September 11, to nursery school in a T-shirt that read “I am a bomb,” and a Vatican receptionist mistook a phone call from the new pope for a prank. “I really am Pope Francis,” said the Pope. “Oh yes,” said the receptionist, “and I’m Napoleon.”
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