Weekly Review — January 16, 2001, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Liberal political groups were attempting to rally SenateDemocrats to oppose the nomination of John Ashcroft to be attorney general of the United States, though few seriously believed that members of the Democrat Party were brave or principled enough to do what it would take to defeat the right-wing Christian extremist.Afghanistan’s chief mullah decreed that encouraging a Muslim to convert to Christianity was a capital crime; Mullah Muhammad Omar also let it be known that selling any kind of anti-Islamic literature would be punished by five years in prison.An Iranian court sentenced several people, including a prominent journalist, to long prison terms for attending a conference in Germany that was deemed “un-Islamic” because a bare-armed woman danced there and a male protestor took off his clothes.Israel’s chief rabbis declared that Jewish law prohibits giving up sovereignty over the Temple Mount; the Islamic mufti of Jerusalem said much the same thing: non-Muslims, he said, are forbidden to control even “its depths, no matter how far down, and the space above it, now matter how high up.”Ronald ReaganChile’s former dictator General Augusto Pinochet changed his mind and decided to undergo psychological examinations to determine whether he was fit to stand trial.There was a coup attempt in the Ivory Coast.British prime minister Tony Blair got hit with a tomato by a protestor upset about the continued sanctions on Iraq, which was bombed again by the United States and Britain.Leaders of the Jewish Reform movement recommended that parents remove their children from the Boy Scouts because the Scouts continue to insist on banning homosexuals??this despite the traditional schoolyard opinion that Boy Scouts are somehow inherently gay.A new poll showed that most Americans think religion is good.

Millions of Hindus jumped into the Ganges River to wash away their sins; 65 million were expected to do so during the 43-day festival of Kumbh Mela.Mississippi’s House of Representatives voted to hold a referendum on whether to remove the symbol of the Confederacy from its flag.Former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for extortion; he is 73 years old.Turkey announced that it had killed 23,000 separatist Kurds in the last 15 years and threatened to get even with France if its parliament passed a bill recognizing the Turkish genocide of Armenians. The U.S. Congress almost passed a similar bill last year.An ecoterrorist group called the Earth Liberation Front burned down three houses on Long Island; the arsonists spray-painted “ELF” and “If you build it we will burn it” and other slogans on a nearby house.The U.S. Army began a new marketing campaign aimed at alienated losers.A naked man was walking around the Bronx stabbing people with a large pair of scissors.New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s mistress was placed under police guard after a man threatened her on the street.Officials at Millstone nuclear power plant in Waterford, Connecticut, acknowledged that two uranium fuel rods had been missing for twenty years, a fact that was noticed only two months ago.Governor Gray Davis of California threatened to take over power plants if necessary to get the state’s electric supply under control; he said that energyderegulation was “a colossal and dangerous failure.”

United Statesagriculture officials continued to insist that Americans were at little risk from mad cow disease, despite the fact that testing has not been widespread. Loopholes still exist in regulations concerning feeding ground-up farm animals to other farm animals; deer in several western states are infected with another form of spongiform encephalopathy; an unknown number of sheep have scrapie, a form of spongiform encephalopathy; captive mink in eleven midwestern states developed spongiform encephalopathy after being fed untested “downer cows”; and beef byproducts such as milk, blood, fat, and semen are still imported from the U.K. and Europe. The prions that cause mad cow disease survive freezing, cooking, and incineration, which complicates disposal.The Union of Concerned Scientists estimated that 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics are given each year to healthy farmanimals such as cows, chickens, and pigs; the group warned that such practices encourage the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria.Scientists proudly announced the insertion of a jellyfish gene into a monkey; the gene was supposed to make a protein that glows in the dark, but it didn’t, though a couple of stillborn monkeys from the same experiment did glow.It was not known whether any bizarre, hitherto uncreated viruses or prion diseases were produced from the unnatural act.U.S. officials approved the merger of Time Warner and America Online.An Asian gaur, a rare ox, was successfully cloned and gestated by a cow, but died a few days later of dysentery; it was the first animal to be gestated by an animal of a different species.Researchers found that the human love of music was instinctual, a mere animal reflex.A husband and wife who ran a travel agency in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, were arrested for killing their clients and selling their organs to the Russians; six bodies and 100 passports were found in their apartment.There were rumors of cannibalism.There were rumors that the couple had been selling meat to local restaurants.

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“One of the peculiar things about economic inequality is that the people who are most articulate about it are not poor, while the poor themselves have said little, at least in print, about their situation.”
Photograph © Reuters/Brendan McDermid
“It would be nice to get through this review without recourse to the term ‘writer’s writer.’ The thing is, in the case of Joy Williams, I have seen the cliché made flesh.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
“Miniatures originated in Persia and were brought to the Indian subcontinent when the Mughals conquered it in the sixteenth century. They could take on almost any subject: landscapes or portraits; stories of love, war, or play.”
Painting by by Imran Qureshi.
“The business of being a country veterinarian is increasingly precarious. The heartland has been emptying of large-animal vets for at least two decades, as agribusiness changed the employment picture and people left the region.”
Photograph by Lance Rosenfield
“Rosie and her husband had burned through their small savings in the first few months after she lost her job. Now their family of five relied on his minimum-wage paychecks, plus Rosie’s unemployment and food stamps, which, combined, brought them to around $2,000 per month, just above the poverty line.”
Illustrations by Taylor Callery

Ratio of children’s emergency-room visits for injuries related to fireworks last year to those related to “desk supplies”:


The ecosystems around Chernobyl, Ukraine, are now healthier than they were before the nuclear disaster, though radiation levels are still too high for human habitation.

The Islamic State opened two new theme parks featuring a Ferris wheel, teacup rides, and bumper 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.”

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