Weekly Review — December 23, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

A federal appeals court ordered President Bush to release Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who was arrested last year in Chicago and has been held since then as an enemy combatant. The court ruled that “the president, acting alone, possesses no inherent constitutional authority to detain American citizens seized within the United States, away from the zone of combat, as enemy combatants.”New York TimesA class-action lawsuit was filed against the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security accusing the agencies of illegally using a national crime database to enforce civil immigration laws.New York TimesFederal investigators found videotapes of guards at a detention center in Brooklyn beating and mistreating foreigners who were rounded up after September 11, and theWashington PostDepartment of Justice filed suit against Mississippi for abusing juvenile prisoners. “We found evidence of systematic abuses including hog-tying and pole-shackling,” said Alex Acosta, an assistant attorney general for civil rights. “It was even reported that girls, overcome by the heat during drills, were forced to eat their own vomit.”CNNAmerican officials said that the CIA might not be able to use its usual interrogation techniques on Saddam Hussein, because Hussein, unlike many Al Qaeda operatives, will probably stand trial for his crimes.New York TimesNielsen Media Research said that a reality TV show featuring Internet sex star and hotel heiress Paris Hilton received better ratings than the Diane Sawyer interview with President Bush.CNNIn that interview, the president said that he saw no difference between his earlier claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and the more recent emphasis on weapons programs. “So what’s the difference? If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger,” Bush said. “I’m telling you â?? I made the right decision for America because Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction, invaded Kuwait. But the fact that he is not there is, means America’s a more secure country.”GuardianA nurse in New Jersey admitted to killing up to 40 patients “to alleviate pain and suffering,” and theNew York Timesfederal government increased the national terror alert level to code “orange.”Associated Press

Thomas H. Kean, the chairman of the commission investigating the September 11 attacks, said that the hijackings probably would not have occurred if the FBI and the immigration service had been doing their jobs.New York TimesSenator Bill Nelson of Florida revealed that the Bush Administration told senators last year that Saddam Hussein definitely possessed biological and chemical weapons and that his unmanned drones could reach cities on the East Coast.Florida TodayThere were reports that David Kay, the head of the American team looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is planning to resign.New ScientistCol. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya announced that he has given up trying to acquire unconventional weapons and that he’ll be good from now on.Associated PressFrance and Germany agreed to cooperate on restructuringIraq’s debt.New York TimesSebaghatullah Mojadeddi, the chairman of Afghanistan’s constitutional convention, told women delegates that they should not try to be equal with men, that even God considers a woman to be half the worth of a man.New York TimesPresident Bush came out in favor of a constitutional amendment outlawing homosexualmarriage.Associated PressThe Journal of Marriage and Familyreported that most American parents yell at their kids, and anotherReutersstudy found that teens would like to hear more about sex from their parents.New York TimesMichael Jackson, who remains at large, joined the Nation of Islam.New York Post

It was reported that the omnibus spending bill passed by the House of Representatives this month includes $23 billion in “earmarks” such as $50 million for an indoor rain forest in Iowa and $225,000 to repair a swimming pool in Sparks, Nevada. Jim Gibbons, a Republican representative, explained that the funding came about because he felt guilty for clogging up that pool with tadpoles when he was a boy. “Look,” Gibbons said in defense of his earmark, “this is the standard practice the United States Congress has had for decades.” Gibbons said he did not view such projects “as pork.”New York TimesTaiwan banned the sale of dog meat as food.Agence France-PresseThe Texas Department of Criminal Justice website removed its listing of executed prisoners’ last meals. A prison spokesman said the last meals were removed because some people thought they were in “poor taste.”Houston ChronicleToronto police arrested a man for raping a pregnant Jersey cow.Toronto SunColin Powell underwent surgery for prostate cancer.New York TimesThe Bush Administration announced that it plans to let companies buy and sell the right to release mercurypollution into the environment, a policy considered and rejected by the EPA in 2000 as inconsistent with the Clean Air Act.New York TimesA federal district judge overturned the Bush Administration’s decision to discard the Clinton Administration’s ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park and said that the Bush decision was arbitrary and “politically driven.”New York TimesGovernor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal crisis in California and invoked emergency powers to deal with it.Associated PressThe National Rifle Association was $100 million in the hole, and anNew York TimesAmerican gunmanufacturer was promoting a new pistol that can shoot around corners.New ScientistScientists were planning to use giant pouched rats to sniff out tuberculosis.New ScientistTaiwan reported a new SARS case, but said that the patient was a researcher who was exposed in a lab.New York TimesSingapore quarantined 70 people who came in contact with the researcher on a recent visit, and stocks in Taiwan dropped 2 percent.CNNSpanish and American scientists were searching the sky for signs of megacryometeors, huge chunks of ice, weighing up to 440 pounds, that form in the atmosphere and fall to Earth. The strange ice meteors have been linked to global warming.Chicago Sun-TimesThe National Weather Service posted an urgent advisory to its website saying that “the Earth has left its orbit and is hurtling towards the sun.”Information WeekSaudi Arabia banned the importation of stuffed animals, female dolls, crucifixes, and statues of the Buddha.San Francisco ChronicleHomelessness and hunger were on the rise in American cities.New York TimesSanta Clausrobbed a bank in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.Associated Press

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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:

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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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