Weekly Review — January 19, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]
Caught in the Web, 1860.

An earthquake registering 7.0 on the Richter scale hit Haiti, with an epicenter about 10 miles from Port-au-Prince. Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said that 70,000 bodies had been found so far, and Lt. Gen. P. K. Keen, a top commander of the U.S. military effort to bring aid and maintain order on the island, said that estimates of 150,000 to 200,000 dead were “a start point”; those estimates would make the toll four to five times that of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake that inspired Voltaire’s Candide. The body of Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot, archbishop of Haiti, was discovered in the ruins of the archdiocesan offices. Pat Robertson blamed the earthquake on a pact that Haitians allegedly made with Satan during their 1791 revolt against “you know, Napoleon the Third and whatever”; David Brooks cited poverty as the deeper problem, linking it to voodoo. Miami’s Royal Caribbean cruise line, which had been “optimistic” about 2010 profits, continued service to its beach resort at Labadee, on the island’s unaffected north shore. “We welcome the continuation of the positive economic benefits that the cruise ship calls to Labadee contribute to our country,” said Haiti’s special envoy to the United Nations, Leslie Voltaire.Miami HeraldNYTNYTWSJBBCWPNYTBBCWSJDer SpiegelCNNNYTTravel Daily NewsMiami Herald

Congress’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission began hearing testimony from leaders of surviving American banks. “The irony here is that it’s as if there was an earthquake,” said commission chair Phil Angelides, “and the only buildings standing today are the buildings that were at the epicenter of the earthquake.” Angelides compared the hearings with the Pecora hearings of the 1930s, at which J. P. Morgan, Jr., appeared with a female midget in his lap. “Not to be funny about it,” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told the FCIC, “but my daughter asked me… ‘What’s the financial crisis,’ and I said, ‘Well, it’s something that happens every five to seven years.’”CBSUSA TodayWSJThe deputy finance minister of Yemen announced plans to open a stock market; it was unclear how the failing state would enforce investment laws. “Before you build a state,” observed one Yemeni analyst, “you cannot organize a regulator.” ReutersYemeni officials claimed to have killed six suspected Al Qaeda militants in airstrikes near the Saudi Arabian border; Al Qaeda said that the victims were “brothers” rather than “holy warriors” and were only injured in the attack. WPA motorcycle bomb killed Iranian physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi in Tehran; an opposition group blamed Hezbollah, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the method used as “Zionist.” NYTReuters via NYTAFP via YahooPoliticoNYTScott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, was charged with masturbating in front of a webcam for a police officer posing as a 15-year-old girl. LAT

One-hundred-four-year-old former Coney Island strongman Joseph Rollino, who reportedly bent a quarter with his fingers on his last birthday, was hit by a minivan with a defective horn in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and died. NY PostAn airplane flying a banner to celebrate the one-year anniversary of US Airways Flight 1549′s successful emergency landing on the Hudson River made an emergency landing on Staten Island’s Fresh Kills landfill. Atlanta Journal-CourierA sheep in Turkey gave birth to a lamb with a human face,AFP via Daily Telegraphand the remains of five Native Americans from Tierra del Fuego, Chile, kidnapped in 1881 by a German animal trader and exhibited in zoos as “Savages from the Land of Fire,” were returned to Chile. Der SpiegelAustrian scientists stopped burying live pigs in snow and monitoring their deaths. NYTFrench New Wave filmmaker Eric Rohmer died, GuardianNYTand scientists found that watching four hours of television a day raises the risk of fatal heart disease by 80 percent. BloombergArt Clokey, the creator of Gumby, died. “Gumby is a symbol of the spark of divinity in each of us,” wrote Clokey, a seminary dropout who studied with Serbian avant-garde filmmaker Slavko Vorkapić. “Eddie Murphy instinctively picked up on this when he asserted, â??Iâ??m Gumby, dammit.â??”WSJNPR

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He made them groom and feed the half-dozen horses used to transport the raw bricks to the furnace. Like the horses, the children were beaten with whips.
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The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.

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With its lens shifting from the courtroom to the newsroom to people’s back yards, the series evokes the way in which, for a brief, delusory moment, the O. J. verdict seemed to deliver justice for all black men.
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