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, ??I??m Gumby, dammit.??”WSJNPR

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“One of the peculiar things about economic inequality is that the people who are most articulate about it are not poor, while the poor themselves have said little, at least in print, about their situation.”
Photograph © Reuters/Brendan McDermid
“It would be nice to get through this review without recourse to the term ‘writer’s writer.’ The thing is, in the case of Joy Williams, I have seen the cliché made flesh.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
“Miniatures originated in Persia and were brought to the Indian subcontinent when the Mughals conquered it in the sixteenth century. They could take on almost any subject: landscapes or portraits; stories of love, war, or play.”
Painting by by Imran Qureshi.
“The business of being a country veterinarian is increasingly precarious. The heartland has been emptying of large-animal vets for at least two decades, as agribusiness changed the employment picture and people left the region.”
Photograph by Lance Rosenfield
“Rosie and her husband had burned through their small savings in the first few months after she lost her job. Now their family of five relied on his minimum-wage paychecks, plus Rosie’s unemployment and food stamps, which, combined, brought them to around $2,000 per month, just above the poverty line.”
Illustrations by Taylor Callery

Ratio of children’s emergency-room visits for injuries related to fireworks last year to those related to “desk supplies”:


The ecosystems around Chernobyl, Ukraine, are now healthier than they were before the nuclear disaster, though radiation levels are still too high for human habitation.

The Islamic State opened two new theme parks featuring a Ferris wheel, teacup rides, and bumper cars.

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Subways Are for Sleeping


“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

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