Weekly Review — January 17, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Runaway Raft on the Tigris, March 1875]
Runaway Raft on the Tigris.

In Baghdad at least 28 people were killed when two suicide bombers attacked the Interior Ministry.BBC NewsWalter Cronkite called for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq,CBC.comand Iraq’selectoral commission ruled that 99 percent of ballots cast on December 15, 2005, were valid.Forbes.comU.S. troops continued to be plagued by improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. “They blow up,” said a Marine corporal, “and you can’t find the triggerman. You’re mad, and you just want to kill someone, and you can’t find them.”The Wall Street Journal/A1The United States bombed Pakistan. The missiles were intended to kill Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was expected at a dinner; instead, 18 people were killed, including women and children, and al-Zawahiri remains alive.ReutersTony Blair’s government was planning to lift a 40-year prohibition against spying on members of Parliament. British officials, including the Secretary of State for Defense, were opposed to the plan.The IndependentBlair also admitted to smacking his children.The GuardianNorth Korean leader Kim Jong-Il rode an armored train to China, where he toured hi-tech firms. BBC NewsIn Kenya, 2.5 million people were close to starvation; police raids showed that those who were supposed to be handing out food were instead selling it.ReutersAn Indonesian girl died of bird flu, and Turkey had killed 306,000 birds.BBC NewsBBC NewsA skinhead shouting “I will kill you” stabbed eight people at a Moscowsynagogue,BBC Newsand the U.S. Senate made Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito’s wife cry.NBC11.com

A former NSA agent named Russell Tice claimed that the NSA had repeatedly spied on American citizens. “I believe I have seen some things that are illegal,” he said.Democracy Now!U.S. senators insisted that attacking Iran must remain an option.Boston.comShots were fired during a New Orleans parade intended to celebrate unity, and four people were hospitalized with gunshot wounds.APScientists announced that the Donner family had not actually been cannibals; it was in fact other pioneers, six miles away, who cooked and ate each other.SFGate.comAt Ohio State University a 47-year-old chimpanzee named Sarah (who knows the numbers from zero through six) attacked a student,The Guardianand Amnesty International released reports detailing even more torture at Guantánamo Bay.Forbes.comPat Robertson apologized to Ariel Sharon’s son, Omri, for being “inappropriate and insensitive” when he said that Sharon’s illness was God’s punishment. It remained unclear, however, whether Robertson would once again be permitted to build a theme park by the Sea of Galilee.BBC NewsIn Saudi Arabia 345 people were trampled to death while attempting to finish the “stoning-of-the-devil” ritual of the Hajj. “This was fate,” said a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, “destined by God.” Officials said that they were working out a plan to allow 500,000 people to stone the devil per hour.The Seattle TimesIn Zimbabwe, a pair of twins named Tafadzwa and Tapiwanashe Fichiani were charged with indecent exposure after entering an upscale mall wearing traditional goatskin loincloths known as nhembe. “We do not care what people say or think about us,” explained Tapiwanashe, “because we regard them as colonized.”News24.comFiremen in Japan were celebrating the end of a fire awareness event when a fire broke out, severely damaging their station.CNN.comFurther investigation showed that it may have been the wind rather than a burning mouse that caused a house fire in New Mexico. The homeowner held to his story, however: “I have an awful hate for those critters.”CNN.comSheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, 78, the ruler of Kuwait, died. Sheikh Saad al-Abdulla al-Sabah, 76, was named to replace him.Al-Jazeera

A Marylandschool superintendent decided to lift a ban on the book The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things in high-school libraries; the ban remained in effect for middle-school libraries.WGAL.comA study found that 24 percent of Americans find fat people less attractive than thin people; this represents a significant change from 20 years ago when 55 percent of Americans said that they were repulsed by fat people.Seattle PIWestern Australian Premier Geoff Gallop resigned due to depression. “I now need the space required,” he said, “to start the process of full recovery.”ABC News OnlineIn Aberystwyth, Wales, a woman was banned from the local seafront after she repeatedly attempted to drown herself. BBC NewsA soon-to-be revealed world map was offered as evidence that Chinese sailors discovered America; the map is said to be a 1763 copy of the 1418 original made during the reign of Emperor Yongle.BBC NewsA Minnesota man named Jonathan “The Impaler” Sharkey, who claims to be a vampire, announced that he would run for governor and promised that if elected he would personally impale murderers and child molesters. “I’m a Satanist who doesn’t hate Jesus,” he explained.ReutersBritish researchers were hoping to fuse human cells with rabbit eggs in order to generate stem cells. “The fertility of rabbits,” noted a researcher, “is legendary.”The GuardianScientists in Taiwan bred three glowing pigs,ABC Newsand a noseless one-eyed kitten died in Oregon.APAriel Sharon twitched his eyelids and cried.Forbes/AP

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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.

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