Weekly Review — October 3, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]
A Christian martyr.

The United States Army extended combat tours for 4,000 soldiers in Iraq,.AP via Yahoo! Newsand the Bush Administration declassified an intelligence report that called the war a “cause celebre” for Muslim extremists.AP via Yahoo! NewsThe new leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed that 4,000 foreign insurgents have died since the 2003 invasion.AP via Yahoo! NewsSenator Trent Lott of Mississippi told reporters that it’s hard for Americans to understand “what’s wrong” with Iraqis. “Why do they hate the Israelis and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference?” CNNAn expert claimed that elements of Iran‘s atomic strategy appear to have been borrowed from Israel.Reuters via Yahoo! NewsIsrael pulled out of southern Lebanon, where, according to the UN, up to a million cluster “bomblets” remain unexploded.New York TimesPresident George W. Bush served Presidents Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan sea bass with stuffed tomatoes, fondue, and a pomegranate-dressed endive salad at a White House dinner.BBC NewsThe AustralianThe pope met with Muslim diplomats at his summer palace near Rome.AP via Yahoo! NewsHamas and Fatah planned to resume negotiations for a unity government,Haaretzand a Mitsubishi dealership in Columbus, Ohio, withdrew a radio ad proclaiming “jihad” on the U.S. auto market.Reuters via Yahoo! News

Congress was about to go into recess; bills passed in the final days included a provision to allocate $70 billion to the Pentagon for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a clause that will allow the president to define enemy combatants at his discretion; the bill also legalized torture and suspended the writ of habeas corpus.New York TimesSecurity forces recaptured a Guatemalan jail that had been under prisoner control for more than a decade,New York TimesNew York TimesReutersand the Saints beat the Falcons in the opening night game at the Superdome in New Orleans. The win, said a fan, was “a victory against Hurricane Katrina.”Voice of AmericaSenator George Allen of Virginia denied allegations that he had once stuffed a deer’s head into a mailbox belonging to an African-American family.SalonIt was reported that Marine Le Pen, the daughter of far-right French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen (who calls herself the “Slavic beauty,” but whose supporters have dubbed her “Joan of Arc”) was steering her father’s campaign from the extreme right wing to the “patriotic center.” Spiegel Online InternationalA Russian tabloid praised President Vladimir Putin for sprucing up his wardrobe,Baltimore Sun via Seattle Timesand aides to Prince Charles denied that he only eats one of the seven eggs that are boiled for his breakfast each morning.Reuters via Yahoo! News

It was reported that this year’s increase in health insurance premiums, the smallest since 1999, was double the rate of inflation,AP via Yahoo! Newshome prices dropped for the first time in eleven years,New York Timesand China announced plans to ship thornless red roses to markets worldwide.New York TimesAmnesty International alleged that Pakistani authorities have been selling terrorism suspects to the U.S. for $5,000 or less, CBC Newsand the Chinese organ market remained robust due to a spike in executions. Many prisoners, said an official, had volunteered to give up their organs as a “present to society.”BBC NewsU.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt reduced the jail sentence of former EnronCFO Andrew Fastow from ten years to six, citing the prolonged suffering of the Fastow family in his decision. “Prosecution is necessary, but persecution was not,” said the judge. “These factors call for mercy.” AP via Yahoo! NewsGuantánamo Bay prison staff announced plans to quadruple the number of volumes in the prison lending library within the next five years; one of the more popular self-help books, said librarians, is called Don’t Be Sad.AP via International Herald TribuneAn appeals court ruled that a Montana mother who gave bong hits to her baby daughter should not have to spend five years in jail;Reuters via Yahoo! Newsa dinosaur species was cleared of cannibalism;New York Timesand a drain-clogging teddy bear was implicated in the deaths of 2,500 trout at a hatchery in New Hampshire.AP via Yahoo! NewsMilagros, a Peruvian “mermaid” girl whose fused legs were separated by surgeons, took her first steps.AP via SBSMen boxed kangaroos in Shanghai’s fourth annual Animal Olympics,Daily Mailhomeless soccer players converged in Cape Town for their World Cup,BBC Newsand a contender for the world chess championship refused to play in a finals match after being accused of taking a suspicious number of bathroom breaks.Moscow TimesVigilante airline passengers searched the luggage of a university professor they believed to be a terrorist during a layover in Mallorca.AP via Seattle TimesMuslimscientists were called to jihad,AP via Yahoo! Newsteens were hunting geeks on the streets of Tokyo,Mainichi Daily Newsand brain images showed that hysteria is real.New York TimesA cloud of locusts descended on Cancun.Reuters via Yahoo! News

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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

Age at death last March of the sturgeon Nikita, Khrushchev’s gift to Norway, after an accidental immersion in salt water:

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