Weekly Review — May 2, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, 1853]

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, released a video in which he showed his face and claimed that the Bush Administration had lied about its military victories. “America,” said Zarqawi, “will go out of Iraq, humiliated, defeated.”The Washington PostThe United States announced that it would free 141 of the 490 “enemy combatants” at the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba because they do not threaten U.S. security after all.The Los Angeles TimesIn Dahab, Egypt, three bombings killed 30 people,The New York Timesand in Baquba, Iraq, about the same number of people died in fighting.BBC NewsPresident George W. Bush pointed out that not drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was depriving the United States of one million barrels of oil per day, and it was reported that Iraq’soil production had dropped by one million barrels per day since the U.S. invasion.The New York TimesBeat the PressIn New York City tens of thousands of people marched against the war in Iraq,Boston.comand in Washington, D.C., five members of Congress, all Democrats, were arrested outside the Sudanese embassy for protesting the genocide in Darfur.CNN.comIt was revealed that in 2005 the FBI had, without court approval, obtained from bank and credit card companies and telephone and Internet companies information on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents.CNN.comIran, under criticism for its nuclear program, accused the United States of using “illegitimate and open threats to use force against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”BBC NewsScientists in Florida were working to improve a “brain port” device that will allow soldiers to perceive things through their tongues.CNN.comNew construction began at Ground Zero.BBC News

A Quebec family was offering a reward for their mother’s head, which had been hacked from her corpse a year ago. “Each morning,” said one family member, “when we get up, we ask ourselves: ‘Where is the head? Will it show up on our lawn one morning?’”Reuters via Yahoo! NewsChinesebra producers were offering larger sizes to meet increased demand,Reuters via Yahoo! NewsChina announced that it would ban heavy snorers from its army,BBC Newsand a Chinese man used eBay to buy an old MiG fighter jet to decorate his office.BBC NewsIt was reported that lobbyists had once provided former (now imprisoned) Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham with free limousine service, free access to hotel suites, and the services of prostitutes; it was also reported that the limousine service that was used to ferry the prostitutes had received a contract worth $21 million from the Department of Homeland Security.The Wall Street JournalSign On San DiegoThe Louisiana state senate approved a bill that bans abortion except when the procedure can save a woman’s life; an amendment to allow exceptions in the cases of women who have been raped or are victims of incest was defeated.Ms. MagazineIt was reported that the Vatican might permit people with AIDS to use condoms, if they are married, although abstinence would still be preferred.BBC NewsA Vatican official also called on Catholics to boycott the “Da Vinci Code” movie.Catholic News ServiceIn Singapore an 18-year-old man, ashamed of his small penis, committed suicide by jumping from a building,HTTabloid.comand President Bush named Tony Snow, a Fox News host, as the new White House press secretary.BBC NewsThe U.S. military, short of buglers who can play taps at military funerals, was waiting for an order of 700 automated $500 digital bugles.The St. Petersburg TimesAfter 15,000 tries a California scientist was able to teach starlings some grammar.Seattle Post-Intelligencer

A farmer in Brazil pleaded guilty to killing a 73-year-old nun; the farmer had been paid by two ranchers to shoot the nun after she attempted to stop the ranchers from clearing a section of rainforest.Sun-Sentinel.comThe Mexican senate passed a bill legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, opium, cocaine, and heroin; President Vicente Fox was expected to approve the bill.Reuters via Yahoo! NewsIn Loreto, Mexico, a 17-year-old boy was killed at a horse race when he attempted to stop a horse from reaching the finish line by jumping in front of it,AZCentral.comand in Denver, Colorado, a 17-year-old boy on his first bucking bronco ride was killed when the horse rolled on top of him. “It was,” said his mother, “his first and last ride.”SFGate.comA couple in Milford Township, Pennsylvania, were suing a veterinarian for faking the death of their dog and then giving the dog to someone else.Mcall.comA wheelchair-bound woman in Florida, who refused to put down a knife and a hammer, died after being tasered by policemen,Local6.comand a Liverpool, England, man was sentenced to 100 hours of community service for getting drunk and singing “YMCA” on a flight from Florida to Manchester while his wife wept and comforted their three children. “He makes no excuses,” said the man’s lawyer, “for his loutish, idiotic behavior.”Mirror.co.ukJane Jacobs Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviewand John Kenneth Galbraith died.The Washington PostTwenty percent of U.S. teenagers admitted to huffing household products in order to get high,MSNBCand Keith Richards fell out of a coconut tree.The Washington Post

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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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