Non Sequitur News
President Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and unveiled a $275 billion plan to help some of the 6 million homeowners facing foreclosure in the next three years. Some Republican governors said they would refuse stimulus aid that required their states to expand unemployment insurance. "If Republican governors do not want this money," said Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association,
"Democratic governors will put it to good use." Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele announced an "off the hook" Republican publicity campaign, targeting "urban-suburban hip-hop settings. We need to uptick our image with everyone," he said, "including one-armed midgets."
Credit-card defaults neared a record high, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to its lowest level since 1997. The federal government eased the rules governing the preferred stock that American taxpayers now own in more than 350 financial institutions, allowing ailing banks to convert that stock to common stock if necessary. On her first Asian trip as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton urged China to keep buying U.S. debt and told the audience of "Awesome," an Indonesian music show, that her favorite bands were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. She was later asked by Fox News if she preferred the Beatles' early "hand-clapping" phase or the "drug-fueled existentialism" of their later music. "The hand-clapping mode was what I first was captured by," she said. "But then, as I went through my angst period and struggled with the challenges of living in the real world, the more existential message struck home."
Descendants of Geronimo sued a Yale University secret society rumored to have stolen the Apache warrior's skull and bones, and leakers close to Dick Cheney said he was angry at George W. Bush for his failure to pardon Scooter Libby for leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. A man dressed as a clown in Redwood City, California, was arrested for impersonating a federal agent, and eight bald eagles in Enumclaw, Washington, got sick after eating the carcass of a euthanized horse. A chimpanzee who previously starred in ads for Coca-Cola was stabbed by its owner and then shot to death by police in Stamford, Connecticut, after mauling a guest to its home, and thousands of cows died in Argentina, where ranchers have lost an estimated 1.5 million head of cattle so far in the worst drought in 50 years. Workers digging in a Los Angeles garage found the largest known cache of Ice Age fossils, including 80 percent of a mammoth and bones from a North American lion. A raid on J.B. Precious Puppies, a dog-breeding facility in Seneca, Missouri, found 170 abused chihuahuas and other small dogs, and a starving Bengal tiger in a cage full of puppy parts. Walt Disney took control of the Ice Lantern Festival in Harbin, China, replacing dragons and other Chinese-themed ice scuptures with Disney characters. "This is beautiful," said Li Jing, a 22-year-old visitor wearing cat ears in imitation of Tigger. "It brings my childhood memories back."
Expanding the CIA-led covert war in Pakistan, the United States launched two missile attacks on training camps linked to Baitullah Mehsud, who is thought to have orchestrated the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. "These strikes are counterproductive," said Owais Ahmed Ghani, the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province. "All it will do is attract more jihadis." A suicide bomber attacked the funeral of an assassinated local Shia leader in the Pakistani village of Dera Ismail Khan, killing 30 people.
Obama announced that 17,000 more troops would be sent to Afghanistan, an increase of 50 percent, partly to help secure the border with Pakistan. General David D. McKiernan said he would like yet another 10,000 troops, adding that it was "very unhealthy" to compare the current war to British and Russian debacles in Afghanistan. "You can't look like the likely loser of the war," explained Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations. "No warlord is going to change sides to join the loser." The recently repainted Abu Ghraib prison, decorated with flowers and renamed "Baghdad Central Prison," was opened to the press. "It was damp," said Saad Sultan of the HumanRights Ministry as he toured the facility. "You really felt the horror. Now there is more light." "I hate this place," said a jailer who requested anonymity. "It is depressing."
Drummer Louie Bellson, whom Duke Ellington called "the world's greatest musician," died. Bellson once recalled the advice of tenor-saxophone legend Lester Young, who helped him learn to play bebop: "'Lou, just play titty-bop, titty-bop, and don't drop no bombs.'"