Weekly Review — September 23, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Michael Mukasey, President George W. Bush‘s nominee for attorney general, received a warm reception on his first day before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he decried torture and promised a nonpartisan Justice Department. On his second day, however, he hedged on whether waterboarding is torture and argued that the president could disregard laws passed by Congress. “I don’t know,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, “whether you received some criticism from anybody in the administration last night after your testimony, but I [sense] a difference.”New York TimesNew York TimesThe Senate Intelligence Committee agreed to grant retroactive immunity to phone companies that provided the government with subscribers’ phone and e-mail records,Washington Postand the House failed to override President Bush‘s veto of the SCHIP health care plan, which was intended to provide health insurance to 10 million children. New York TimesArkansas lawmakers were unable to muster enough votes to ban tobacco-chewing in the state’s legislative chambers.New York TimesVladimir Putin traveled to Iran and cautioned the United States against a military strike; President Bush responded by saying that democracy might not be in the “Russian DNA” and threatened World War III if Iran acquired nuclear weapons.The GuardianWashington PostIranian and Chinese companies won contracts worth $1.1 billion to build power plants in Sadr City, Iraq,. New York Timesand the Turkish parliament authorized attacks on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq by a vote of 507 to 19. New York TimesSecretary of State Condoleezza Rice painted an upcoming U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference as a “moment of opportunity” for Israelis and Palestinians, while film director David Lynch claimed that 250 experts in Transcendental Meditation could end that conflict by dissolving “the suffocating rubber clown suit” of hatred.The Boston HeraldCheckpoint Jerusalem

The Dalai Lama received the Congressional Gold Medal. “We are furious,” said Zhang Qingli, secretary of China’s Party Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region. “If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world.”Washington PostNew York TimesPakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto returned from self-imposed exile to Karachi, where bombs struck her welcome parade, killing 134 and wounding 450; police believed they had found the bomber’s head.New York TimesCNNState inspectors visited a Texas youth jail to find spoiled food, overflowing toilets, walls smeared with feces, and a curriculum reliant on crossword puzzles.New York Times It was reported that students at 31 New York City high schools will now receive thousand-dollar prizes for a top score on any advanced placement examNew York Timesand that middle schoolers in Portland, Maine, can obtain birth control pills from their schools without notifying parents.New York TimesIn England, cooks at a Suffolk middle school discovered maggots in a rice dish,BBC and a government study found that 50 percent of Britons will be clinically obese by 2050.Daily MailA British restaurant began serving gray squirrel pancakes.Daily MailA poll revealed that a quarter of Germans think National Socialism had “good sides,” including low crime, low unemployment, and “the encouragement of the family.”New York TimesFrench president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife divorced.New York Times

James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize for his role in the discovery of DNA, said that while he wishes everyone were equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.” CNNLynn Cheney announced that her husband and Barack Obama are eighth cousins. “Every family,” said the Obama campaign, “has a black sheep.”BBCA New York man was arrested after wearing a stolen Rolex watch to his parole meeting, New York Timesan Ohio woman stood accused of digging up her ex-boyfriend’s grave and stealing his ashes,CNNand a Virginia woman was fined for attacking a Comcast store with a hammer after the company cut off her phone and Internet connections. ”I smashed a keyboard, knocked over a monitor and I went to hit the telephone,” she said. ”I figured, ‘Hey, my telephone is screwed up, so is yours.”’ New York TimesA New Jersey woman sent 80,000 cans of Silly String, which can locate trip wires, to U.S. troops in Iraq; a military spokesperson thanked her but admitted that soldiers don’t use as much Silly String today as they did at the beginning of the war.CNN Forty-nine percent of New Jersey residents admitted they’d rather live somewhere else.Fox NewsTaku the killer whale died unexpectedly at the San Antonio SeaWorld,New York Times5 of the world’s 350 remaining Asiatic Lions were found dead next to an electric fence in India,New York Timesand the curator of the Rotterdam Natural History Museum asked the public to donate pubic crabs, claiming that their population was dwindling as a result of Brazilian waxes. ”When the bamboo forests that the Giant Panda lives in were cut down, the bear became threatened with extinction. Pubic lice,” he explained, “can’t live without pubic hair.”New York Times

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Weekly Review October 23, 2007, 12:00 am

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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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“Bolivia’s gene banks contain far more quinoa varieties than any other country’s, yet the Bolivians are dead set against sharing them.”
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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:

2:1

Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.

Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.

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