Weekly Review — April 15, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Twenty U.S. soldiers were killed last week fighting across Iraq, and 1,300 Iraqi officers and soldiers were fired for poor performance. The Bush Administration said it was optimistic that many more refugees from the estimated 4.4 million people who had fled Iraq or had been “internally displaced” would be allowed into the United States. Since the war began the United States has accepted only 5,000 Iraqi refugees. Sweden has taken 34,000.ReutersIHTHillary Clinton and John McCain accused Barack Obama of elitism after Obama commented on the bitterness of working-class people in a speech at an expensive San Francisco fund-raiser. “They cling to guns,” said Obama, “or religion, or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.”AFPNBC11BBC NewsZombie TimesBob Dylan won a Pulitzer Prize,The New York Timesand scientists identified a group of 8,000-year-old Norway spruce trees in western Sweden, believed to be the oldest on earth. The trees, which took root after the last Ice Age, stayed at a shrublike size for most of their lives. “The past few decades we have seen a much warmer climate, which has meant that they have popped up,” said tree expert Leif Kullman.Reuters

There were riots in Haiti, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Cameroon over increasing food costs. Some blamed the rising price of corn (up 31 percent from 2005) on the burgeoning biofuel industry, pointing out that to fill up an SUV with a tank of ethanol uses as much corn as can feed a person for a year. World Bank President Robert Zoellick called for more contributions to the $500 million World Food Program. “We have to put our money,” he said, “where our mouth is.”The AgeThe 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay, a tradition that began in 1936 as a celebration of Nazi ideology, traveled to Dar es Salaam, guarded by China’s 30-person paramilitary Sacred Flame Protection Unit; onlookers chanted “Tanzania is a peaceful country” as a police helicopter hovered overhead.The GuardianThe Washington PostTimes OnlineAll AfricaBBC NewsTwo Arizona chemists published a paper expressing concern over the uncontrolled use of odor-fighting socks, which may, when washed, pollute aquatic ecosystems with nanoparticle silver.Science DailyResearchers in Virginia found that due to pollution the scent of flowers, which could travel up to 4,000 feet during the nineteenth century, now travels not even a quarter of that distance.Live ScienceKiller bees attacked Mexican policemen after one officer shot up their hive,New York TimesEuropean scientists used lasers to stimulate electrical activity in thunderclouds,Scientific Bloggingand geneticists were reportedly impressed by a new cloning technique that, according to the chief scientific officer of U.S. firm Advanced Cell Technology, “can actually produce a child.”A poll by the science journal Nature found that 20 percent of its readers use brain-enhancing drugs.The Globe and Mail

In the Indian city of Bhubaneshwar, Biranchi Das, former coach of six-year-old marathon runner Budhia Singh, was shot dead after a dispute with a gangster over a small-time actress,NDTV.comand villagers in northern India began worshipping a newborn girl with two faces as the reincarnation of Durga, Hindu goddess of valor. “She drinks milk from her two mouths,” said a hospital director, “and opens and shuts all the four eyes at one time.”AP via BreitbartThe U.K. Privy Council approved reforms that allow Sark, a small island off the coast of Normandy, its own parliamentary government. “These moves are intended to be a step away from a feudalist system,” said the seneschal of Sark.The IndependentFrench and Canadianastronomers announced the discovery of the coldest brown-dwarf star on record, 40 light-years away,AP via Google Newsand Russia was considering sending monkeys to Mars.BBC NewsJohn Wheeler, a physicist who coined the term “black hole,” died at age 96. In his 1999 autobiography he explained what can be learned by studying black holes: “That space can be crumpled like a piece of paper,” he wrote, “into an infinitesimal dot.”New York Times

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“One of the peculiar things about economic inequality is that the people who are most articulate about it are not poor, while the poor themselves have said little, at least in print, about their situation.”
Photograph © Reuters/Brendan McDermid
“It would be nice to get through this review without recourse to the term ‘writer’s writer.’ The thing is, in the case of Joy Williams, I have seen the cliché made flesh.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
“Miniatures originated in Persia and were brought to the Indian subcontinent when the Mughals conquered it in the sixteenth century. They could take on almost any subject: landscapes or portraits; stories of love, war, or play.”
Painting by by Imran Qureshi.
“The business of being a country veterinarian is increasingly precarious. The heartland has been emptying of large-animal vets for at least two decades, as agribusiness changed the employment picture and people left the region.”
Photograph by Lance Rosenfield
“Rosie and her husband had burned through their small savings in the first few months after she lost her job. Now their family of five relied on his minimum-wage paychecks, plus Rosie’s unemployment and food stamps, which, combined, brought them to around $2,000 per month, just above the poverty line.”
Illustrations by Taylor Callery

Ratio of children’s emergency-room visits for injuries related to fireworks last year to those related to “desk supplies”:


The ecosystems around Chernobyl, Ukraine, are now healthier than they were before the nuclear disaster, though radiation levels are still too high for human habitation.

The Islamic State opened two new theme parks featuring a Ferris wheel, teacup rides, and bumper cars.

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Subways Are for Sleeping


“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

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