Weekly Review — November 18, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The Bush Administration, worried about the political cost of the Iraq war and increasingly plagued by comparisons with Vietnam, decided to speed up its “Iraqification” plan by transferring sovereignty to a provisional native government by June 30.New York Times, USA Today“They are, we believe, ready for it,” said Condoleezza Rice. “And they have very strong ideas about how it might be done.” President Bush said that he believes the Iraqis “have the capacity to run their own country.”ReutersThe American-appointed mayor of Sadr City, a suburb of Baghdad, was killed after he drove into a forbidden area and got into a “wrestling match” with an American soldier, whose gun went off.New York TimesFour soldiers just back from Iraq were charged with stabbing another soldier to death, setting his body on fire, and leaving it in the woods.Associated PressTwenty-six people were killed in the car bombing of the Italian paramilitary headquarters in Nasiriya; seventeen Italian military policemen died along with nine Iraqis, including three ten-year-old schoolgirls who happened to be driving by in a minibus.New York Times, Nelson ReportSeventeen U.S. soldiers died when two Black Hawk helicopters collided in Mosul after one of them came under fire.New York TimesGeneral John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, said that it was “beyond my imagination” that Saddam Hussein had planned for a guerrilla war prior to the fall of Baghdad.New York TimesWesley Clark came out in favor of a constitutional amendment banning flag desecration, andNew York TimesSaddam Hussein released a new audiotape calling for jihad against Israel and America.It was noticed that more U.S. soldiers have died so far in Iraq than in the first three years of the Vietnam War.Reuters

Four former Israeli security chiefs criticized Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a newspaper interview and said that Israel was headed for a catastrophe if it continues its current policies toward the Palestinians. “We are taking sure, steady steps,” said one, “to a place where the state of Israel will no longer be a democracy and a home for the Jewish people.”Associated PressAl Qaedasuicide bombers blew up two synagogues in Istanbul, and aNew York Times Jewish school was burned in a Paris suburb.New York TimesThe president of the rump Yugoslavia apologized for “any evil or disaster that anyone from Serbia and Montenegro caused to anyone in Bosnia-Herzegovina.”Agence France-PresseKenya officially recognized the Mau Maus, andNew York TimesCanaan Sodindo Banana, the first black president of Zimbabwe and a convicted homosexual rapist, died at age 67.Associated PressThailand said that it will give amnesty to more than one million illegal foreign workers who perform dirty, dangerous jobs that Thais would rather not do.ReutersA judge in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, was in trouble for dressing up in blackface for Halloween.New York TimesRacists, a new study found, tend to be mentally exhausted by encounters with people from different races.New ScientistAmerican Roman Catholic bishops embarked on a new campaign against contraception. “The Church teaches us a lot of things we don’t practice,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver. “But it’s the constant of the Roman Catholic Church that contraception is wrong, sinful, and contrary to the meaning of married life.”The Food and Drug Administration approved a new chewable contraceptive for women.ReutersNewly declassified files from MI5, the British intelligence agency, revealed that in 1940 Germansaboteurs had planned to attack Buckingham Palace with exploding cans of French peas.New York TimesArnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in as governor of California.New York Times

American scientists at the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives created an artificial bacteria-eating virus in 14 days using synthetic genes.Agence France-PresseSpencer Abraham, the secretary of energy, suggested that synthetic microbes might someday remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.New York TimesEnvironmentalists and consumer groups sued the Department of Agriculture to prevent companies from planting experimentalcrops that have been engineered to produce pharmaceuticals; they said that planting in open fields risks spreading the modifications to other crops.ReutersThirteen million trees were damaged in a freaksnowstorm in Beijing, and partsAgence France-Presse of Los Angeles were covered in a foot of hail.New York TimesThere was severe flooding in central Vietnam, and peopleAgence France-Presse were still dying of Ebola fever in the Congo.Associated PressBiologists were trying to exterminate nonnative frogs that have invaded the Galápagos Islands.Associated PressA crocodile was on the run in Hong Kong.BBCCattle prices were up, and oneNew York Timesin seven Americanschoolchildren was found to be at risk of heart disease.New ScientistAstronomers speculated that Sagittarius A, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, is spinning.New ScientistResearchers at MIT and Harvard found that cancer tumors follow a universal law of growth,New Scientistand Australian scientists said they know why animals that live fast die young.New Scientist Magazine

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Editor's Note

Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.

Because of the present comedy boom, civilians are starting to hear about Doug Stanhope from other comedians like Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK. But Stanhope has been building a devoted fan base for the past two decades, largely by word of mouth. On tour, he prefers the unencumbered arrival and the quick exit: cheap motels where you can pull the van up to the door of the room and park. He’s especially pleased if there’s an on-site bar, which increases the odds of hearing a good story from the sort of person who tends to drink away the afternoon in the depressed cities where he performs. Stanhope’s America isn’t the one still yammering on about its potential or struggling with losing hope. For the most part, hope is gone. On Word of Mouth, his 2002 album, he says, “America may be the best country, but that’s like being the prettiest Denny’s waitress. Just because you’re the best doesn’t make you good.”

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“He explained how sober Doug structured the bits and worked out the material’s logic; drunk Doug found the funny.”
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Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:

2:1

Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.

Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.

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