Weekly Review — June 30, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Babylonian lion, 1875]

Iraq held its first National Sovereignty Day in honor of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraqi cities. A celebration was held with poets and singers in Baghdad’s al-Zawraa park and former Vice President Dick Cheney said that he was worried that the withdrawal would “waste all the tremendous sacrifice that has gotten us to this point.” Two hundred Iraqis were killed or wounded in the last ten days of June.CNNThe Washington TimesA federal court judge in New York City sentenced Bernard Madoff to 150 years in prison, calling Madoff “extraordinarily evil” and noting that none of the financier’s family members, friends, or associates had pleaded for leniency on his behalf. NY TimesHonduran President Manuel Zelaya was exiled to Costa Rica by the military as part of a coup d’etat under the direction of the Honduran Supreme Court; he was replaced by Roberto Michelletti, who took power in what he called “an absolutely legal transition process.”BBC NewsSteve Jobs returned to Apple with a new liver.NY TimesGoogle CEO Eric Schmidt said that attempts by governments to censor the Internet were futile, and that governments censored “at their own peril.”TelegraphThe New York Times revealed that, for seven months, it had sought to keep news of the kidnapping of one of its reporters by the Taliban out of the media, and had worked closely with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to suppress news of the kidnapping.The New York TimesSpanish fertility researchers advised professional cyclists to freeze their sperm,BBC Newsand the sheriff of Los Angeles County was considering whether to distribute condoms to all L.A. jail inmates, rather than just the gay ones. LA Times

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, after going missing for a week, returned home and announced that, instead of hiking the Appalachian Trail, he had actually been in Buenos Aires, where he had a girlfriend, to whom he once wrote in an email: “Sleep soundly knowing that despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips.” Sanford justified his continuing role as the state’s executive by noting that Biblical philanderer King David didn’t resign.TPM MuckrakerThe StatePapal archaeologists in Rome authenticated the bones of Saint Paul the Apostle,NY Timesand a new cell-phone ring tone that features Philip Roth’s “Jewish shouting” was growing popular among the literary-minded.Guardian via GawkerBorn-again Christians, dispensing Bibles, were arrested at a Gay Pride festival in Minneapolis;WCCO via Scannera parishioner at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Carle Place, New York, was arrested for stealing cash from another worshipper during a Sunday service;NBC New York via Drudgeand an Australian ewe gave birth to a five-legged, six-footed baby lamb. The Inquistr via ScannerThe U.S. government was working to protect ugly animals from extinction.Washintgon PostColorado officials legalized rainwater.NY TimesToyota unveiled a wheelchair steering system that can be directly controlled by a human brain.Yahoo via Drudge

The Guardian Council of Iran announced that its partial recount of the recent presidential election showed “no major irregularities.” A spokesman for the Council stated that the “results were positive.”Al-JazeeraTasmanian wallabies were eating opium poppies, getting high, and running around, causing crop circles.Guardian via GawkerScientists at Stanford University succeeded in “infecting” mice with a virus that made them highly sensitive to light,Walll Street Journaland actress Farrah Fawcett died, as did entertainer Michael Jackson and noted TV pitchman Billy Mays, spokesman for OxiClean and Kaboom, a cleaner that “put the power back in your shower.”Farrah FawcettTMZThe New York TimesRussia refused to cooperate in a lawsuit brought by Hasidic Jews claiming rights over sacred documents that were seized by the Nazis and are currently held in the Russian State Library.AP via GoogleA new “Indiana Jones” movie was in development.E! OnlineThe U.S. Supreme Court determined “reverse discrimination” to be unconstitutional, thereby permitting the fire department of the city of New Haven, Connecticut, to promote more white men to positions of authority.NY TimesA Tennessee man was charged with sexual exploitation for Photoshopping the faces of little girls (two local girls, and Miley Cyrus) onto the bodies of nude adult women,CNNand a child porn stash was found in the sewer drain of a public bathroom in Saginaw, Michigan, but the images were too damaged by fecal matter for authorities to use in an investigation.WNEM.comCosmetic nipple surgery was on the rise in England,Daily Mailseagulls off Argentina were attacking whales and eating their skin,BBC Newsand Latvians, asked to provide collateral for loans of up to 500 lats, were offering their eternal souls (must be previously unmortgaged).Mosnews

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Editor's Note

Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.

Because of the present comedy boom, civilians are starting to hear about Doug Stanhope from other comedians like Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK. But Stanhope has been building a devoted fan base for the past two decades, largely by word of mouth. On tour, he prefers the unencumbered arrival and the quick exit: cheap motels where you can pull the van up to the door of the room and park. He’s especially pleased if there’s an on-site bar, which increases the odds of hearing a good story from the sort of person who tends to drink away the afternoon in the depressed cities where he performs. Stanhope’s America isn’t the one still yammering on about its potential or struggling with losing hope. For the most part, hope is gone. On Word of Mouth, his 2002 album, he says, “America may be the best country, but that’s like being the prettiest Denny’s waitress. Just because you’re the best doesn’t make you good.”

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“Bolivia’s gene banks contain far more quinoa varieties than any other country’s, yet the Bolivians are dead set against sharing them.”
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“He explained how sober Doug structured the bits and worked out the material’s logic; drunk Doug found the funny.”
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Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:

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Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.

Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.

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