Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Around the World in 365 Days

Harper's Yearly:

Eight hundred ninety-nine U.S. troops and 18,610 Iraqi civilians were killed
in the Iraq War. Eighty percent of Iraqis were reporting "attacks nearby" and
it was estimated that 90 percent of Iraq's artists had fled the country or been
killed. Halliburton announced that it would add 13,000 jobs, and President George W.
Bush underwent a colonoscopy. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez embraced
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. "Welcome, fighter for just causes,"
said Chavez. Senator Barack Obama was featured shirtless in People Magazine's
Beach Babes issue, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi banned smoking in the Speaker's
Parlor of the Capitol, and Senator Hillary Clinton said that "we want to be able
to continue to export democracy, but we want to deliver it in digestible packages."
Viagra turned 15. Wildfires spread from north of Los Angeles to south of San Diego,
and scientists at New York University were deleting frightening experiences from
the memories of rats. The first Muslim member of Congress took his oath on a Koran
once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Annual sales at Taser International were expected
to reach $90 million.
Drought was driving tens of thousands of snakes into Australian cities,
female koalas in Australia were ignoring males in favor of five-bear lesbian orgies,
and developers were planning to open a Hooters in Dubai. Scientists in London
were working on a gum that suppresses appetite and fights obesity. "Obese people
like chewing," reasoned a researcher. The United States projected that it would emit
19 percent more greenhouse gases in 2020 than it did in 2000, and U.S. pollution
was cited as the reason that the Dutch are now taller than Americans. The United
Arab Emirates beat out the United States to become the world's most wasteful country,
Ford posted a loss of $12.7 billion for 2006 (the largest in its 103-year history
and equivalent to the GDP of Jordan), and General Motors announced it would open a
new research center in Shanghai to develop alternative fuels and vehicles.
Geneticist Craig Venter announced that he had constructed a synthetic chromosome out
of laboratory chemicals, creating the first artificial life form on Earth.
Britney Spears shaved her head, and an appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled
that the writ of habeas corpus does not apply to prisoners at
Guantanamo Bay,
. The market price for children in India slipped below that of buffalo,
and crystal meth was now available in candy flavors.
Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, and Boris Yeltsin died. Osama bin Laden turned 50 and the
Senate doubled the bounty on his head to $50 million. Ariel Sharon was still alive.
New stars were hatching near the head of Orion.
Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales, and Tony Blair resigned. "[Blair] was the
worst thing that ever happened to Africa," said Bright Matonga, the deputy information
minister of Zimbabwe. "We hope that the children of Iraq and Afghanistan he is killing
everyday will haunt him for the rest of his life." Reverend Ted Haggard declared himself
"completely heterosexual," and Paris Hilton went to jail. An Irish soldier who won the
Military Cross for single-handedly defeating a Baghdad suicide bomber was facing
a court-martial for auctioning his medal on eBay. Scientists trained dogs to track polar
bear feces, produced talking construction paper, made stem cells out of adult mice,
and linked the upsurge in cat sex to global warming. Mr. Wizard died, as did Mr. Whipple.
Pope Benedict XVI decreed that, by definition, Protestant churches are not churches,
and it was revealed that Mother Teresa, beginning in 1948 and continuing until the
end of her life in 1997, was unable to sense the presence of God. "Repulsed--empty--
no faith--no love--no zeal," she wrote. "Heaven means nothing." Detainees at
Guantanamo Bay complained of "infinite tedium and loneliness," and 20,000 people
marched against the junta in Burma; about 400 monks were pushed away from the house
where pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was imprisoned.

"Love and kindness," read the monks' yellow banner, "must win over everything."

"Love and kindness must win over everything."



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