Weekly Review — March 27, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: The Cloaca Maxima, 1872]
The Cloaca Maxima, 1872

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a timetable for ending the Iraq war by a six-vote margin. The bill mandates American withdrawal in September 2008 if the Bush Administration meets certain benchmarks, earlier if it does not. Several Democrats voted against the timetable because it was not sufficiently antiwar, and Republicans derided the inclusion of domestic provisions benefiting spinach growers, citrus farmers, salmon fishermen, and peanut storers. “What does throwing money at Bubba Gump, Popeye the sailor man, and Mr. Peanut have to do with winning a war?” asked Representative Sam Johnson of Texas. “I will veto it,” said President George W. Bush, “if it comes to my desk.”New Tork TimesNew York TimesBritish troops pulled out of Basra; two days later, rival Shiite factions began battling over a government building that had been been evacuated by the military.CS MonitorIn the Green Zone, a press conference held by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was interrupted by a nearby rocket attack. Ban, frightened, ducked behind a podium,AP via Yahoo! Newsand the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose new sanctions on Iran. Iranian officials claimed that American authorities had prevented President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from attending the Council meeting by delaying his visa,AP via Yahoo! NewsBBCand in the Iraqi territory of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, Iranian forces captured and detained 15 members of the British Royal Navy.Reuters via Yahoo! NewsOil reached $62 per barrel.Reuters UKJohn Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, discussing last summer’s conflict in Lebanon, said that he was “damned proud” of U.S. efforts to delay a cease-fire,BBCand White House press secretary Tony Snow announced that he would soon undergo surgery to remove a growth from his lower abdomen.Reuters via Yahoo! News

Al Gore returned to Capitol Hill to testify that global warming is a planetary emergency. Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts called Gore a prophet, and Rep. John Dingell of Michigan addressed him as “Mr. President.” Joe Barton of Texas, the leading Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told Gore he was “totally wrong” and that, if need be, Republican lawmakers would stay late for an “all-out cat fight” with Democrats. Ralph Hall, also of Texas, speculated that Gore’s attack on the energy industry could result in war “when and if OPEC nations abandon the U.S.A.,” and Roscoe Bartlett (R., Md.) said that he thought it was “probably possible to be a conservative without appearing to be an idiot.AP vie BreitbartHuffington PostCzech President Vaclav Klaus said that a new “anti-greenhouse religion” had replaced Communism as the paramount threat to global freedom. “This ideology preaches earth and nature, and under the slogans of their protection–similarly to the old Marxists–wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central, now global, planning of the whole world.”Reuters via the San Diego Union TribuneIn Beijing, weather officials were now using the word “mai,” meaning “haze,” to denote a denser concentration of pollutants than “wu,” which means “fog,”The Economistand Taiwan’sfreeway bureau closed 600 yards of highway in Yunlin County in preparation for a massive migration of milkweed butterflies.AP via Yahoo! NewsAfter two black Labrador retrievers sniffed out a shipment of nearly a million black-marketDVDs in Johor, Malaysian disc pirates offered a bounty to anyone who kills the dogs, which were on loan from the Motion Picture Association of America. Lucky and Flo were subsequently moved to a safe house.AP via Canadian pressCelebrity chef Wolfgang Puck announced that his restaurants would no longer serve foie gras, but that he would continue to slice lobsters in half without first stunning them.

Jamaican police continued to search for the murderer of Bob Woolmer, the coach of Pakistan’s cricket team, who, hours after Pakistan lost to Ireland in the cricket World Cup, was strangled in his room at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.BBCIn her denial of an application for divorce filed by a battered Muslim woman, a female judge in Frankfurt, Germany, quoted a verse of the Koran that suggests husbands may beat unchaste wives. “It’s a religious thing,” she explained.The SunA study sponsored by Kleenex facial tissues found that Americans do not let their feelings out often enough,Earth Timesand a Florida man who pleaded guilty to homicide was ordered to exhibit a two-foot-wide picture of his victim in his home. The judge specified that the image should be displayed prominently and include the phrase “I’m sorry I killed you.”AP via Seattle Post-IntelligencerAfter it was discovered that he was drinking the blood and eating the flesh of their young women, a man named Black Jesus was captured by villagers in Papua New Guinea.Fox NewsFour teachers in Xhyre, Albania, were censured after their students caught them drinking and having sex behind a blackboard. “I saw them acting shamefully,” said fourth-grader Elton Cuka to the Shqip daily. “Would you call someone a teacher,” asked Xhevahir Hohxa, a father, “who drinks raki at ten in the morning and gets drunk and chases the schoolgirls?”Reuters via ScotsmanGay policemen in Manila were ordered not to swing their hips while on duty,MSNBCand to test the integrity of ten local hospitals, journalists in Hangzhou, China, replaced their urine samples with tea; six of the hospitals diagnosed the reporters with urinary tract infections.Reuters via Yahoo! LifestyleRussian peasants were refusing to collect their pensions because the payment slip barcodes contained Satanic symbols,Reuters via Yahoo! Newsand in the Mojave Desert, a wandering photographer in search of a striptease museum stumbled across an estimated acre of rotting food discarded by a food bank, including cases of eggnog and tooth whitener. “Creepy, spooky, gross, disgusting,” he said. “Filled with animals and bugs.”MSNBCFamilies of victims of the World Trade Center attacks filed an affidavit that accused New York City of using the remains of the dead to pave roads and fill potholes.Reuters via Yahoo! News

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For the past three years my dosimeter had sat silently on a narrow shelf just inside the door of a house in Tokyo, upticking its final digit every twenty-four hours by one or two, the increase never failing — for radiation is the ruthless companion of time. Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly. During those three years, my American neighbors had lost sight of the accident at Fukushima. In March 2011, a tsunami had killed hundreds, or thousands; yes, they remembered that. Several also recollected the earthquake that caused it, but as for the hydrogen explosion and containment breach at Nuclear Plant No. 1, that must have been fixed by now — for its effluents no longer shone forth from our national news. Meanwhile, my dosimeter increased its figure, one or two digits per day, more or less as it would have in San Francisco — well, a trifle more, actually. And in Tokyo, as in San Francisco, people went about their business, except on Friday nights, when the stretch between the Kasumigaseki and Kokkai-Gijido-mae subway stations — half a dozen blocks of sidewalk, which commenced at an antinuclear tent that had already been on this spot for more than 900 days and ended at the prime minister’s lair — became a dim and feeble carnival of pamphleteers and Fukushima refugees peddling handicrafts.

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