Weekly Review — May 19, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The Sri Lankan government declared an end to their 26-year war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, after a final battle in which Tiger leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran was killed along with hundreds of other rebel fighters. More than 70,000 people died in the course of the conflict. “This battle has reached its bitter end,” said a rebel spokesman. “We have decided to silence our guns.” Observers questioned the methods of Sri Lanka’s military, and foreign ministers of European Union nations said they were “appalled” by reports of high civilian death counts. A spokesman for the U.N.’s refugee agency estimated that 65,000 civilians had been displaced by the conflict in recent days.New York TimesU.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi accused the CIA of lying to her during briefings on interrogation techniques in 2002, and claimed that her briefers expressly denied the use of waterboarding and that she first learned of its use several months later from a congressional aide. Pelosi’s deputy, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he had “no idea” whether Pelosi’s charges were accurate. “It’s outrageous that a member of Congress should call a terror-fighter a liar,” said Republican Senator Kit Bond, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “It seems the playbook is ‘blame terror-fighters.’”ABC NewsFormer Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, who was waterboarded as part of his Navy SEAL training, spoke out against the practice. “I’ll put it to you this way,” Ventura said. “You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney, and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.”Huffington PostPresident Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame despite protests from Catholics. “Let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions,” Obama said. “Let’s provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term.” As he spoke, a plane flew over campus towing a banner that depicted the feet of an aborted fetus.New York TimesTwo Yellowstone National Park concession workers were fired for peeing into Old Faithful.MSNBC

With massive support from the rural poor, the Indian National Congress party obtained enough seats to ensure a majority in India’s parliament. Party leader Sonia Gandhi, whose husband, Rajiv, was assassinated by Tamil Tigers in 1991, is believed to be paving the way for her 38-year-old son Rahul to become prime minister; Rahul Gandhi, said party leader Prithviraj Chavan, could become prime minister “whenever he wished.”New York TimesA candidate for the newly formed Canadian Sex Party received 2 percent of the vote in the Vancouver Point Grey riding,The Registerand pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi went on trial in Burma, charged with breaking the terms of her house arrest because an American man, unbeknownst to her, swam across a lake to spend a night at her house.New York TimesAn armed gang disguised as federal police freed more than 50 convicts from a prison in northern Mexico.BBC NewsA man in London was given a suspended sentence after he was arrested for soliciting a prostitute to take his 14-year-old son’s virginity,Reutersand a Taiwanese man was indicted for stabbing a friend; the man had become angry after watching a DVD called Affairs with Others’ Wives that turned out to feature his wife having sex with his friend.MSNAidan Clifford, named as half of Ireland’s Most Romantic Couple by Irish Wedding Journal, was stripped of his title after being convicted of following women in his car while masturbating. Clifford’s solicitor blamed a stressful lifestyle for the behavior, saying his client had been “working himself to the bone.”The Register

An assistant principal at a New York City public school became the fifth American to die from the recent outbreak of swine flu,New York Timesand a mother in Texas punched her 5-year-old child’s teacher after the teacher admitted to shaking the child.New York TimesScientists in France reported that early humans ate Neanderthals.Live ScienceArkansas state Senator Kim Hendron apologized for calling New York Senator Chuck Schumer “that Jew” at a county Republican meeting. “I was attempting to explain that, unlike Senator Schumer, I believe in traditional values, like we used to see on The Andy Griffith Show,” explained Hendron. “I made the mistake of referring to Senator Schumer as ‘that Jew’ and I should not have put it that way, as this took away from what I was trying to say.”Talking Points MemoVenetia Phair, nee Burney, who as an 11-year-old girl in 1930 named the newly discovered planet Pluto, died at age 90. “In the year 4,000 A.D., when Pluto is hollowed out and millions of people are living inside,” said an amateur astronomer, “the name of Venetia Burney may be the only thing that Great Britain is remembered for.”New York Times

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Arab artists take up — and look past — regional politics
“When everyday life regularly throws up images of terror and drama and the technological sublime, how can a photographer compete?”
“Qalandia 2087, 2009,” by Wafa Hourani
“There was torture by the previous regime and by the current Iraqi regime,” Dr. Amin said. “Torture by our Kurdish government, torture by Syrians, torture by the U.S.”
Visiting His Own Grave © Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The Tale of the Tape·

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“Heroin isn’t the weakness Art Pepper submits to; it’s the passion he revels in.”
Photograph (detail) © Laurie Pepper
The Soft-Kill Solution·

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"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia
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“Almond insists that watching football does more than feed an appetite for violence. It’s a kind of modern-day human sacrifice, and it makes us more likely to go to war.”
Photograph by Harold Edgerton

Chance that a movie script copyrighted in the U.S. before 1925 was written by a woman:

1 in 2

Engineers funded by the United States military were working on electrical brain implants that will enable the creation of remote-controlled sharks.

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In Praise of Idleness


I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

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