Weekly Review — October 30, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]
An American cattleman.

Wildfires spread from north of Los Angeles to south of San Diego, killing at least seven people, consuming more than 1,800 homes, burning a half-million acres, setting Camp Pendleton afire, forcing about 300,000 San Diego residents to evacuate, and prompting California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to declare seven counties disaster areas and to mobilize the National Guard. At the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, typically home to the Chargers but a place of refuge for 20,000 evacuees during the fires, an air-conditioned medical tent was erected, a cell-phone provider offered free calls to anywhere in the United States, volunteers distributed coloring books and crayons to children, coolers brimmed with cold sodas, residents piled sandwich meat onto bread, and a massage therapist and acupuncturist set up shop. FEMA apologized for holding a fake press conference on the wildfires, with FEMA staffers posing as reporters. “Are you happy with FEMA’s response so far?” asked one fake reporter. “I’m very happy,” said Deputy Administrator Harvey Johnson, “with FEMA’s response so far.”Washington PostWashington PostMSNBCThe Government Accountability Office reported that more than 755,000 names now appear on the U.S. terroristwatch list.Washington PostTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked the United States for military help with the Kurdish rebel group PKK. “We have a disturbance,” said Erdogan. “What kind of disturbance did the United States have with Iraq?” President George W. Bush phoned Turkish President Abdullah Gul to tell him that the United States was willing to bomb PKK strongholds. “It’s not ‘Kumbaya’ time any more,” said an official familiar with the conversation.USA TodayNew York TimesHerald SunA DNA study revealed that some Neanderthals were redheads. BBC News

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling revealed that Dumbledore was a gay wizard. “It’s been terrible,” said an English father of five who was teased by coworkers because of the $1,200, two-foot-tall Dumbledore tattoo on his back.The SunDefense Minister Lee Tien-yu scrapped the Taiwanese military’s “loving hug” policy, which required squad leaders to embrace new recruits and say, “Brother, I will take care of you” (to which recruits respond by saying, “Leader, I respect and love you”). Lee canceled the policy after a lawmaker who thought the policy was inappropriate insisted the Defense Minister accept a hug; “We are not that close,” said Lee.The China PostThe $5-million African Leadership Prize, an award designed to encourage good governance in Africa, was awarded to former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano, who ruled his country for 18 years before stepping down in 2005. “Those who govern badly,” said an analyst at the South African Institute of International Affairs, “bag a lot more than $5 million.”Washington PostThe Sudanese government announced a unilateral cease-fire in Darfur during peace talks hosted by Libyan leader Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, who spoke about the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles before concluding that other countries should not interfere in Darfur. New York TimesThe state of Georgia had less than 80 days of stored water left. Governor Sonny Perdue banned the washing of state vehicles, ordered inmates to take no more than one shower a day, and insisted that state departments use paper plates at least once a week.Washington PostAt a high-security auction in Texas, a bookstore owner paid $100,000 for a lock of Che Guevara’s hair.New York Times

Senator John McCain promised workers at Thompson Center Arms, a small-weapons factory in Rochester, New Hampshire, that he would “follow Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell” and “shoot him with your products.” McCain also promised that if he were elected “the background music would be ABBA in the elevators all over the White House” and proposed “Take a Chance on Me” as his campaign song.Boston GlobeAustin American StatesmanElvis Costello sang to Hillary Clinton at her 60th birthday party,New York Timesand a still-living 405-year-old quahog clam was found near Iceland.Science DailyThe warming climate of Greenland meant that for the the first time locally grown cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage could be sold in local supermarkets.New York TimesGeneral Motors announced it would open a new research center into alternative fuels and vehicles in Shanghai, Forbes.comand a Scottish man was placed on a sex offenders registry for raping a bicycle.The TelegraphAnother Scottish man was sentenced to five years in jail for smothering his 76-year-old mother with a pillow not long after she told him he was a failure who could not even kill himself properly. “I woke up,” the man told police, “and just decided to do it.”BBC NewsA New Zealand woman died while nursing her baby son; the child was smothered by her corpse.NZHeraldA couple in southern California was facing criminal charges for attempting to sell 375 pounds of bathtub cheese,Central Valley Business Timesan attack on the Frankfurt zoo left three flamingos decapitated and a fourth strangled,Breitbartand in Florida one 18-year-old stabbed another after a squabble at the mullet festival.Northwest Florida Daily News

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He made them groom and feed the half-dozen horses used to transport the raw bricks to the furnace. Like the horses, the children were beaten with whips.
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The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.

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With its lens shifting from the courtroom to the newsroom to people’s back yards, the series evokes the way in which, for a brief, delusory moment, the O. J. verdict seemed to deliver justice for all black men.
Still from The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story © FX Networks

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