Weekly Review — May 17, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The Fakir and the Prestidigitateur, 1893

The United States was investigating claims that someone flushed a copy of the Koran down a Guantánamo Bay toilet. In Afghanistan, news of the flushing led to riots, where hundreds chanted “death to America” and at least fifteen people died.BBC NewsNewsweek, which published the original report of the Koran desecration, retracted the story but pointed out that similar behavior has been widely reported.BBC NewsConnecticut held its first execution in forty-five years,Reutersand a Holocaust memorial opened in Berlin. Some people were upset that it only commemorated the deaths of Jews.ReutersThe White House and Capitol Building were evacuated for a few minutes when a small Cessna airplane got lost and strayed into restricted airspace,BBC Newsand Tom Ridge admitted that when he was head of the Department of Homeland Security he let other administration officials bully him into raising the terrorist attack threat level based on only flimsy evidence.USA TodayIt was uncertain whether Boston could host a convention for minority journalists in 2008 because the city has a law requiring that all Native Americans who enter the city be arrested.Boston GlobePope Benedict XVI called for Pope John Paul II to be beatified; investigators are now looking for a miracle.BBC NewsBurma claimed that “a world famous organization of a certain superpower nation” had trained the rebels who recently bombed shopping centers in Rangoon. The organization is apparently based in Washington, D.C.BBC NewsZapatista spokesman Subcomandante Marcos challenged Italy’s Inter Milan soccer team to a match against a team of Zapatista soldiers,BBC Newsand Mexican President Vicente Fox called on the United States to reconsider its immigration policies. “There is no doubt,” he said, “that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States.”Reuters

The state economy and culture senator of Bremen, Germany, resigned under criticism for pouring wine on a homeless man’s head,Reutersand Charlotte Spadaro, the former mayor of Beverly Hills, California, was in trouble for keeping 135 dogs and 30 cats in her home, and for filling a rental van with a ton of dead animals and leaving it out on the street.SFGate.comAnother earthquake struck Sumatra,EarthTimes.organd more than one hundred people died when a ferry sank off the shores of southern Bangladesh.BBC NewsCondoleezza Rice visited Iraq, where things are not getting better. “Iraq is emerging from a long national nightmare of tyranny,” she said.BBC NewsEleven corpses, four beheaded, were found south of Baghdad in Iskandariya, ten soldiers were found dead in Ramadi,BBC Newsand at least seventy-one people died in suicide bombings in Tikrit, Hawija, and Baghdad.BBC NewsThe Senate approved $82 billion in emergency funding for the war,Washington Postand passed legislation supporting a standardized national driver’s license.Wired NewsThere was unrest in Uzbekistan.BBC NewsMali sentenced eleven men to jail for refusing to let their children be vaccinated for polio; in Nigeria, several states have banned the vaccine because they believe it will make their daughters sterile.BBC NewsThe polio outbreak in Yemen was getting worse,Reutersas was the mumps epidemic in the United Kingdom.BBC NewsBritish doctors implanted five devices into a stroke victim’s unusable arm to help it work again,BBC Newsand a study found that women who abuse alcohol are more likely to suffer brain damage than men.BBC NewsChildren in the western world were hitting puberty earlier, often at age seven; researchers suggested that this was due to indifferent fathers, childhood obesity, exposure to pesticides, or watching too much television.BBC NewsIt was revealed that Michael Jackson used chimpanzees to dust his house, clean his windows, and brush his toilets.This is LondonThe U.S. Army decided to allow soldiers to enlist for only fifteen months of active duty, followed by two years of service in the National Guard or Army Reserve.BBC NewsIn Brazil, a man and his parents were murdered when the man lost a real-life role-playing murder game.AP NewsIsrael and Lebanon shelled each other,BBC Newsand researchers in Japan developed a fuel cell that runs on blood.IOL.co.za

The grand opening of a new post office at a United States air base in South Korea was postponed, and a nearby shopping mall evacuated, when a mail-scanning device mistook a package of sauerkraut for a dangerous chemical.Stars and StripesAustralian researchers were working to clone the extinct Tasmanian tiger,IOL.co.zaand researchers in Tokyo used smoothed particle hydrodynamics to prove that stones skip farthest when they strike the surface of water at a twenty-degree angle. CBCWal-Mart apologized for running an advertisement that equated current Arizona zoning ordinances with the Nazi regime. Using a photo of a 1933 book burning in Berlin, the ad read: “Should we let government tell us what we can read? Of course not . . . So why should we allow local government to limit where we shop?”Washington PostScientists found that sexually well-endowed fish are slower swimmers, and thus more likely to be eaten (but girl fish find them attractive even so),MSNBCand three Michigan judges decided that a cable show featuring a man’s joke-telling penis was more about indecent exposure than free speech.ABC News OnlineResearchers at Cornell University developed a robot that can build copies of itself from spare parts,BBC Newsand British archaeologists dug up a two-thousand-year-old shoe. It was either a size nine or ten, they said.BBC NewsTwo tiger cubs died in Burma, despite being breastfed by a woman. The cubs will be stuffed.SIFY.comThe governor of Idaho was bouncing checks,AP Newsa man was suing a hospital in Orlando, Florida, for injecting him with green and red sparkling glitter instead of Demerol,Sydney Morning Heraldand in Utah, a high school teacher brought his class to see the dissection of a live dog. “I thought,” he said, “that it would be just really a good experience.”Local6.com

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

Photograph (detail) by Karine Laval

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