Weekly Review — February 17, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The House and Senate reached agreement on a $789 billion economic-stimulus plan, which President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law despite a lack of support from Republicans.New York Times“When Roosevelt did this,” said Representative Steve Austria (R., Ohio), “he put our country into a Great Depression. That’s just history.”Dispatch PoliticsThe Columbus DispatchAbraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin both turned 200.Washington PostAnglican hymns were sung at Darwin’s tomb in Westminster Abbey. A poll showed that 43 percent of Britons believe in creationism.Associated PressIn a speech at the Capitol, President Obama called Lincoln a “singular figure who in so many ways made my own story possible–and who in so many ways made America’s story possible.”CNNStocks fell sharply after Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, whom Obama called “the chief economic spokesman for my administration,” announced his plans for further bailouts of the financial sector.New York Times“Even if Kant, Plato and Aristotle were resurrected together with the late brilliant economist John Kenneth Galbraight [sic],” wrote Fidel Castro, “they would neither be capable of solving the more frequent and deeper antagonistic contradictions of the system.”PoliticoFederal agents ordered a brewery in Brooklyn to stop making their “Hop Obama” ale. “Iâ??m upset,” said one local bar owner. “They were actually trying to support himâ??while making a good beer.”The Brooklyn PaperSenator Judd Gregg withdrew as a nominee for commerce secretary, making him the third of Obama’s cabinet nominees to withdraw before being confirmed;Washington PostMissouri State Representative Bryan Stevenson apologized for calling a proposed abortion bill “the greatest power-grab by the federal government since the War of Northern Aggression”;Kansas City Starand Senator Roland Burris admitted that Robert Blagojevich, brother of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, had asked him for a donation, in contradiction to his testimony during Blagojevich’s impeachment hearings.Washington PostA Continental Airlines flight en route to Buffalo from Newark, New Jersey, crashed into a house in Clarence Center, New York, killing 50 people, among them Beverly Eckert, who was traveling to Buffalo to celebrate the birthday of her late husband, who died in the World Trade Center attacks.New York TimesNew York Times

Finance officials and central bankers from the G-7 nations met in Rome to discuss plans to revive the world economy.BloombergA report revealed that Japan’s economy recently registered its worst decline in three decades.MarketWatchTwo missile strikes by American drones in Pakistan killed more than 60 people, leading some to suggest that Bush Administration policies in the area may remain unchanged under Obama.New York TimesFrench and British authorities acknowledged that nuclear submarines from the two countries collided earlier this month.Washington PostAn Iridium communications satellite crashed into a non-operational Russian satellite in the first major collision between two man-made objects in space,Spaceflight Nowa van in New York dragged a pedestrian almost 20 miles through the streets of Queens and Brooklyn before the van’s driver noticed the body near Coney Island,Fox Newsand 41-year-old Christine Newton-John pleaded guilty to reckless homicide after prosecutors produced video footage of her forcing her 71-year-old husband to swim around in their pool until he died of a heart attack. When the couple met, Newton-John was John Vallandingham, but after sex reassignment surgery she changed her name in honor of singer Olivia Newton-John. “The whole case,” said the local police chief, “is very sinister.” Associated Press

Australian police charged a man with starting a blaze that killed 21 people, which was in turn one of a series of wildfires that killed up to 200 people and destroyed thousands of homes; the man was also charged with possession of child pornography.BBC NewsPennsylvania judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan pleaded guilty to fraud after taking $2.6 million in kickbacks from two private detention centers in exchange for sending teenagers there. One high school student with no previous record was sentenced to three months of juvenile detention for creating a MySpace page making fun of her assistant principal.New York TimesVenezuelans passed a referendum lifting presidential term limits, which cleared the way for Hugo Chavez to run for re-election in 2013. “This was a victory imposed by the abuse of state power,” said the leader of a local election-monitoring group. “I am a soldier of the people,” said Chavez. “I will obey the peopleâ??s mandate.”New York Times“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” singer Molly Bee died at the age of 69,MSNBCand elevator-music pioneer Muzak declared bankruptcy.Charlotte Business JournalYankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez admitted to using steroids,San Francisco ExaminerAstros shortstop Miguel Tejada pleaded guilty to lying under oath about steroid use among his teammates,ESPNa ten-year-old Sussex spaniel named Stump became the oldest best-in-show winner in the history of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show,Washington Postand swimmer Michael Phelps apologized to the Chinese for taking bong hits at a frat party. “The past few days have been tough for me,” Phelps said in a video provided to Asian news sources by automaker Mazda, which sponsors him. “But I have received support and encouragement online from so many Chinese friends.”New York Times

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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