Weekly Review — October 2, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

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

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, hailed by his countrymen as the “Socrates of the Third Millennium” for “disarming other speakers through his sharp reasoning,” gave a speech on Monday in which he claimed that Iran had no homosexuals and disavowed reports of his nuclear ambitions. “Let me tell a joke here,” Ahmadinejad said. “I think the politicians who are after atomic bombs, or testing them, making them, politically they are backward, retarded.” On Tuesday he met with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, addressed the United Nations (where he announced that he would disregard any resolutions adopted by the Security Council), and hosted a reception at the Intercontinental Hotel that was attended by Brian Williams and Christiane Amanpour.Reuters via Yahoo! NewsAdnkronos InternationalReuters via Yahoo! NewsNew York TimesTimePresident George W. Bush skipped all events related to the U.N. discussions on global warming, except for dinner, because he was holding his own summit later in the week; reporters covering the Bush conference received a pocket-sized handout aimed at dispelling “myths” about the administration’s environmental policy, including the myths that Bush refuses to admit that humans are a factor in climate change, or that climate change is real.New York TimesAssociated PressA February 2003 transcript of a meeting between Bush and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar surfaced showing that Bush had knowledge that Saddam Hussein was prepared to go into exile. In the transcript, Bush complained about former French President Jacques Chirac, who “thinks he’s Mr. Arab,” and the European attitude toward Hussein. “Maybe it’s because he’s dark-skinned, far away and Muslim,” said the President, “lots of Europeans think everything’s okay with him.” Reuters via Yahoo! NewsThe annotated text of Bush’s address to the U.N. General Assembly appeared briefly on the U.N. website. The speech included phonetic spellings for the name of French President Nicolas Sarkozy (sar-KO-zee), Kyrgyzstan (KEYR-geez-stan), Mauritania (moor-EH-tain-ee-a), and the Zimbabwe capital Harare (hah-RAR-ray).Reuters via Yahoo! NewsA White House transcript of Bush’s Wednesday speech on education was amended from “children do learn” to “childrens (sic) do learn,”Associated Pressand British researchers studying intelligence announced that men were disproportionately represented in both the top and bottom two percentiles.Hindu

Protesters in Burma, which tied Somalia for the 2007 title of Transparency International’s most corrupt nation, taunted soldiers in the country’s largest anti-government demonstrations since 1988. “Fuck you, army,” jeered some protesters, “we only want democracy.” “May the people who beat monks be struck down by lightning,” implored others.Reuters via Yahoo! NewsAP via Yahoo! NewsRwanda, which will soon be paid a humanitarian visit by Paris Hilton, was named the most improved country in sub-Saharan Africa,SFGateBBC Newsformer Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was extradited to Peru and is expected to become the first head of state to be tried by the country he once led,Christian Science Monitorand former South African President Nelson Mandela opened a shopping mall in Soweto.AP via Yahoo! NewsJames Razsa, who cleaned the Kennebunkport pool of former President George H.W. Bush, told a reporter that “if every American had to pool-boy for these people for a day, you’d have a revolution on your hands.” SFGateBoth the Magna Carta and pearls that once belonged to Marie Antoinette were being readied for auction,New York TimesReuters via Yahoo! Newsand a Rudy Giuliani supporter in Palo Alto, California, charged guests $9.11 per person to attend a fundraiser.CNNThe board of the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network voted to remove its president after doubts were cast as to whether she was a survivor at all.New York Times

The Department of Homeland Security announced that the completion of a $20 million “virtual fence” pilot project along the Mexican border near Tucson would be delayed because its cameras and radar were unable to distinguish people and vehicles from bushes and cows. Washington PostNike unveiled the Air Native, a sneaker that has a larger fit for the distinct foot shape of American Indians and features several “heritage callouts,” including sunrise patterns, feather designs, and stars representing the night sky.Associated PressThe Mexicanshoemaker who made the pair of ostrich-skin cowboy boots that former President Vicente Fox gave to President Bush was indicted after the contraband skins of sea turtles, caimans, and other endangered species were found in an associate’s warehouse. Rocky Mountain NewsRiverside, New Jersey, joined the list of towns across the nation that were rescinding anti-immigrant ordinances because they were hurting local economies. “The business district is fairly vacant now, but it’s not the legitimate businesses that are gone,” said former mayor Charles Hilton. “It’s all the ones that were supporting the illegal immigrants, or, as I like to call them, the criminal aliens.” New York TimesA bus company on the Isle of Wight planned to teach visiting foreign students how to wait in lines,Agence France Pressean Austrian judge refused to declare a chimpanzee a person,AP via Yahoo! Newsand the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled women must return engagement rings should their wedding be canceled, even if the ring was received on Christmas Day.TennesseanA 14-year-old boy was reported to be the sixth American to die this year after contracting a brain-eating amoeba that thrives in warm-water lakes. AP via azfamily.comMiss Moneypenny died,AFPand two women dressed as ninjas and armed with a sword and dagger robbed a Pennsylvania gas station of cash, cigarettes, and lottery tickets.WTAEOfficials in Peru said that collective psychosis, rather than a meteorite, was to blame for an epidemic of sickness in a Peruvian town,Space.com via Yahoo! Newsand the Navy made plans to alter the barracks at Naval Base Coronado in California after satellite imagery showed the buildings were arranged in a swastika.Los Angeles TimesShannon Whisnant, a North Carolina man who found a leg in a barbecue smoker, was hoping to share custody of the leg with the man from whom it was amputated. Whisnant has been charging adults $3 and children $1 to look inside the empty smoker. “It’s a strange incident and Halloween’s just around the corner,” he said. “The price will be going up if I get the leg.”Seattle Times

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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.

One Friday evening, the refugees’ half of the sidewalk was demarcated by police barriers, and a line of officers slouched at ease in the street, some with yellow bullhorns hanging from their necks. At the very end of the street, where the National Diet glowed white and strange behind other buildings, a policeman set up a microphone, then deployed a small video camera in the direction of the muscular young people in drums against fascists jackets who now, at six-thirty sharp, began chanting: “We don’t need nuclear energy! Stop nuclear power plants! Stop them, stop them, stop them! No restart! No restart!” The police assumed a stiffer stance; the drumming and chanting were almost uncomfortably loud. Commuters hurried past along the open space between the police and the protesters, staring straight ahead, covering their ears. Finally, a fellow in a shabby sweater appeared, and murmured along with the chants as he rounded the corner. He was the only one who seemed to sympathize; few others reacted at all.

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