2013 Year in Review: USA

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      Our year-in-review special looks back at the wacky, weird, and wondrous stories of 2013.


      “In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he’s going down. He crumpled on to the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! Same place. That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight.”—An alleged former U.S. navy SEAL who claims to be the one who fired the shots that killed Osama bin Laden, in an anonymous 15,000-word article in Esquire magazine


      “Dr. King would be proud to see our Global Strike team—comprised of Airmen, civilians and contractors from every race, creed, background and religion—standing side-by-side ensuring the most powerful weapons in the US arsenal remain the credible bedrock of our national defense…Our team must overlook our differences to ensure perfection as we maintain and operate our weapon systems.”—From a U.S. air force Global Strike Command post to commemorate Martin Luther King Day, an American holiday in honour of one of its most committed proponents of nonviolence and antimilitarism


      “You don’t have to do anything except watch it grow and get a couple of hippies to cut it and then put it in a bag.”—Comedian and professional stoner Tommy Chong on the ease with which the U.S could legalize marijuana, “the biggest cash crop in the world”, and boost its economy by taxing it

      BACK TO THE ’60S

      “The Supreme Court has effectively gutted one of the nation’s most important and effective civil-rights laws.”—Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, after the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, halted enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requirement that Washington must approve when states want to enact election changes, thereby keeping polling places open to minority voters, mostly blacks and mainly in the South


      In May, a five-year-old boy in Burkesville, Kentucky, killed his two-year-old sister with a rifle he had been given as a gift the year before. The .22-calibre rifle, called a “Cricket” by its manufacturer, Keystone Sporting Arms (which makes many different kids’ guns, in many colours, including a rifle called the “Chipmunk”), was left standing in a corner of the house. No one knew there was a bullet left in it, and the mother had stepped out to the front porch for a minute when she heard the gun’s report. Keystone’s slogan is “My first rifle”.


      Two rival ice-cream truck operators got into some heated encounters in Gloversville in upstate New York. The Sno Kone Joe owner repeatedly attempted to drive Mr. Ding-A-Ling out of town by yelling at him, “This is my town,” by following his truck, by playing his music at full volume to try to drown his competitor out, and by offering free ice cream to his customers. Police finally laid charges of second-degree harassment and fourth-degree stalking against the couple who own Sno Kone Joe.


      “It’s like shearing a piglet: a lot of squealing and a little wool.”—Russian president Vladimir Putin, expressing his preference not to get too caught up in dealing with the Edward Snowden controversy in June, when the U.S. citizen and fugitive National Security Agency leaker was cooling his heels in the transit zone of a Moscow airport while deciding on a final destination. Putin, who called Snowden “a free man”, refused to extradite him; John Kerry, U.S. secretary of state, said: “We’re not looking for a confrontation”