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

Weekly Review

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

After much bargaining with the largest banks in the United States,Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced the results of the Treasury’s “stress tests,” studies that estimate how the banks will fare if the economic crisis deepens. Ten banks, said Geithner, including Bank of America, Citibank, and Wells Fargo, must collectively raise $75 billion in extra capital by November; the rest, however, are fine. Analysts questioned Geithner’s conclusions, which assume a worst-case unemployment rate of 10.3 percent when the current rate is 8.9 percent, and which, after banks complained, ended up measuring bank-capital levels with standards more forgiving than expected; Bank of America’s potential capital deficit, for example, was finally pegged at merely $33.9 billion instead of the $50 billion initially projected.The Wall Street JournalNew York TimesNew York TimesPresident Barack Obama said that his staff went “line by line” through the $3.4 trillion federal budget and found 121 programs that could be cut to save taxpayers $17 billion, or half a percent of the budget’s total. Democratic lawmakers immediately protested the cuts, and Representative Maurice Hinchey (D., N.Y.) vowed to force the White House to accept delivery of a new presidential helicopter even though Obama says he doesn’t need or want it.Washington PostWashington PostThe U.S. Navy reported that 12 crewmembers aboard the amphibious transport ship USS Dubuque had been diagnosed with influenza A (H1N1), bringing the total number of U.S. cases of the flu to 1,600, with 2,500 cases reported worldwide in 25 countries. Afghanistan, despite having no cases of swine flu, took its only known pig, a gift from China named Khanzir (which means “pig”), away from the friendly goats and deer with which it grazed at Kabul Zoo and placed it in solitary confinement.CNNBBC

Maine recognized same-sex marriage, as did Washington, D.C., where the city council approved a bill by a 12 to 1 vote, with only former mayor Marion Barry dissenting. “All hell is going to break loose,” said Barry, who was once arrested for using crack cocaine. “We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this.”Fox NewsWashington PostThe Simon Wiesenthal Center presented its 2009 Humanitarian Award to actor Will Smith,Haaretzand President Obama appeared at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. “I must confess,” he told the crowd, which included Robert De Niro, Natalie Portman, Sting, and Ludacris, “I really didn’t want to be here tonight. But I had to come. That’s one more problem I inherited from George Bush.” Obama also pointed out that Michelle Obama, by wearing a sleeveless dress, supported the “right to bare arms.”Washington PostSenator John Kerry attended a Senate subcommittee hearing on the future of journalism. “I see cacophony without standards,” he said. “I see more and more people operating in public life with snippets.”Washington PostPete Seeger turned 90.Open LeftPope Benedict XVI visited Israel, where he spoke of his support for a Palestinian state and Israeli president Shimon Peres presented him with an Old Testament that fits on the head of a pin.New York TimesNanowerkThe wife of Kenyan Prime Minister Ralia Odinga agreed to forgo sex with her husband as part of a national sex boycott intended to force government leaders to stop feuding, and Kenyan James Kimondo, denied conjugal rights by his boycotting wife, sued women’s rights groups for “stress, mental anguish, backaches, and lack of sleep.”Foreign PolicyCNN

Congolese government soldiers sodomized pygmies to gain supernatural powers,The Herald Sunand Marilyn French, author of the novel The Women’s Room, died. “All men are rapists,” she wrote, “and that’s all they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws, and their codes.”The New York TimesThe price of oral sex from a prostitute in Russia had fallen to that of a sandwich and soda, and many Russian men were hiring hookers just for conversation.Washington PostMoscow schoolgirl Katya Kazakova, struck by stage fright, was unable to sing a patriotic song, “The Dug Out,” for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, until Putin joined in. “The fire is pulsing in a cramped stove,” they sang together, Putin’s voice soft and melodious. “The resin on the firewood is like a tear.”BreitbartScientists in North Carolina announced a tiny medieval “rack,” or robotic bioreactor, that can stretch slivers of foreskin to twice their original size and may some day be used for skin grafts.The New ScientistJeff Kepner, a 57-year-old Georgian man who lost both his hands to a bacterial infection ten years ago, received the nation’s first double hand transplant,New York Timesand five months after her operation, Connie Culp, who was the first American to receive a full facial transplant, unveiled her new face, which–while squarish and floppy–is a drastic improvement over the old one after her husband blew it off with a shotgun in 2004.Washington PostA two-nosed Wisconsin cow named Lucy gave birth to a normal calf,WSAW.comand a New York Citycow named Molly broke free of her handlers on the way to the slaughterhouse and ran free through the streets of Queens. Molly’s owners, responding to public outcry, agreed to spare her and move her to Long Island, where she will live with a steer named Wexley. “He’s been neutered,” said Wexley’s owner, “so they are just going to have to be good friends.”New York Post

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

At the time, Chomsky was still finishing his doctoral dissertation for Penn, where he had completed his graduate-school course work. But at bedtime and in his heart of hearts he was living in Boston as a junior member of Harvard’s Society of Fellows, and creating a Harvard-level name for himself.

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