Weekly Review — March 3, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress, offering a broad outline of a massive spending plan paired with $2 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. “Now is the time,” he said, “to jump-start job creation, restart lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education.”NPR.orgIt was announced that General Motors lost $30.9 billion last year; that U.S. GDP fell 6.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, exceeding the officially predicted 3.8 percent drop, and even the 5.5 percent drop economists had expected; and that the U.S. government will own up to 36 percent of Citigroup.BBC NewsMarketWatchNew York TimesMarketWatchMarketWatchJames Baker, Ronald Reagan’s Treasury secretary, called on the Obama Administration to nationalize America’s zombie banks. Financial TimesThe Rocky Mountain News ceased publication.Rocky Mountain NewsFifty-four percent of graduating U.S. business majors lacked job offers, and Latham & Watkins, an international law firm, planned to lay off 8 percent of its attorneys with six months’ severance (up to $100,000 plus benefits) and to pay recent law-school hires up to $75,000 to defer work until late 2010.BusinessWeekThe AM Law DailyThe U.S. gave a further $30 billion to insurer A.I.G. atop the $133 billion already doled out, and the Dow fell below 7,000 for the first time since October 1997.MarketWatchThe New York TimesThe White House released a $3.6 trillion budget for fiscal year 2010, calling for a $630 billion health-care fund. “This budget,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio), “makes clear that the era of big government is back.”MarketWatchWarren Buffet published his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. “The economy will be in shambles throughout 2009,” he wrote, “and, for that matter, probably well beyond.”Marktwatch

Many Americans were impressed by the supple firmness of Michelle Obama’s upper arms. “This woman is redecorating the White House, trying to raise two children, and backseat-driving the nation,” said a 25-year-old woman who watched the first lady on television, then went to an Adidas store in New York City and bought two five-pound dumbbells. “She seems to have time to keep her arms toned, so why can’t I?” CNNA rocket carrying the NASA Orbiting Carbon Observatory, intended to track global warming, crashed on launch.Sky NewsHamas and Fatah held peace talks in Cairo.The New York TimesPresident Barack Obama announced that he would pull all combat troops out of Iraq by 2010, and asked Congress for an extra $200 billion for the next eighteen months of war.CNNCNNThe Pentagon lifted the ban on photographing the coffins of dead American soldiers.New York TimesThe number of priests was rising,BBC Newsand HIV was evolving.BBC NewsPaul Harvey died.New York TimesCalifornia declared a state of drought emergency.BBC NewsOne hundred and fifty people applied, and ten were hired, to wait tables at a topless coffeeshop in Vassalboro, Maine. “People like nudity,” said owner Donald Crabtree, “and coffee is profitable.”CNN

Thieves stole up to 7 million euros from the Bank of Ireland in Dublin,Irish Timesand Irish protesters demonstrated at the ministry of finance against U2, which has relocated to the Netherlands to avoid taxes on royalties. “I don’t need to pay like you/No, I won’t pay like you/Because I still haven’t learned about democracy,” sang one Bono impersonator to the tune of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”Irish TimesBritish researchers identified the oldest words in English as “I,” “we,” “two,” and “three,” and predicted the death of “bad.”BBC NewsThree people in Louisiana were arrested for attempting to swap two small children for $175 and a cockatoo,The Smoking Gunand the principal of a London school, charged with downloading child pornography, skipped bail after undergoing treatment for a thyroid condition. “Please warn officers that when he is arrested he might be radioactive,” said a judge. “This is not a joke.”Daily MailA study of 1.3 million British women found that a single drink per day increases the risk of cancer of the breast, liver, and rectum.The Washington PostA fireman in Oklahoma was arrested for starting small grass fires near his firehouse,KTULand a man in Boston was treated for burns after he started a fire inside his car in an attempt to keep warm.WCVBTVThree people with “personal grievances” set themselves on fire in a car just outside of Tiananmen Square (where soldiers stand next to fire extinguishers to extinguish protesters), and in Sichuan province a Tibetan monk named Tapey was shot by police after he set himself ablaze.BBC NewsBBC NewsTen people in Bloomingdale, Indiana, watched as a 58-year-old Wal-Mart employee, described by management as “fun to be around,” set himself alight in a parking lot near the store where he worked. People threw their coats on the man, but he tossed the coats away; before succumbing to burns he told police, “I just couldn’t take it anymore.” The man’s son said that his father had enjoyed living in the suburbs. “This had nothing to do with the economy,” said the son. “We were getting ready to redo the front lawn.” CLTV

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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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