Weekly Review — March 9, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Amid hundreds of rocket and mortar explosions that killed dozens of people throughout the country, Iraq held parliamentary elections. Large numbers of Sunnis, who had boycotted previous elections, voted. “We have experienced three wars before,” quipped one voter, “so it was just the play of children that we heard.” Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s coalition failed to secure a majority of seats, leaving his political future uncertain; the U.S. military said its plans for withdrawal remained “on track.”New York TimesA memoir by Karl Rove said that the Bush Administration would not have started the Iraq war without the threat of weapons of mass destruction.New York TimesRampaging Nigerian Muslims slaughtered 500 Christians with machetes,New York Timesand a Nigerian member of the Vatican choir admitted to having procured male prostitutes for an Italian government official working as a papal usher. CNNDefense Secretary Robert Gates traveled to Afghanistan to meet with President Hamid Karzai as U.S.-led forces prepared for an offensive in Kandahar. “There won’t be a D-Day that is climactic,” Gates said. “It will be a rising tide of security as it comes.”New York TimesHamas banned male hairdressers from styling women’s hair in Gaza.BBC News

Representative Charlie Rangel (D., N.Y.) stepped down as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee amid multiple ethics investigations,Roll CallNew York Governor David Paterson insisted that he would stay in office despite charges that he intervened in an aide’s domestic-abuse case,Buffalo Newsand House Democrat Eric Massa resigned over his treatment of a staffer at a recent wedding, admitting that he grabbed the man and said, “‘Well, what I really ought to be doing is fracking you.’” He then “tousled the guy??s hair and left, went to my room, because I knew the party was getting to a point where it wasn’t right for me to be there.”CNNA crowd in Cleveland set a world record for the most people wearing Snuggie blankets in the same place at the same time.Yahoo! SportsDoctors in Fallujah were reporting an increase in birth defects, which some blamed on sophisticated U.S. weaponry used during the siege of the city six years ago. “I’ve seen footage of babies born with an eye in the middle of the forehead,” said an Iraqi researcher. “The nose on the forehead.” BBC NewsA three-year-old girl in South Korea died of starvation while her parents played a child-rearing game online,The Guardian25 people were hospitalized in Vietnam after a box of rat poisyon was mistaken for curry,The Hinduand Sandra Bullock won an Oscar.The LA Times

Scientists at NASA theorized that the recent earthquake in Chile had shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 millionths of a second.NASADemocratic fundraiser Julianna Smoot, known as “The $75 million woman,” replaced Desiree Rogers as White House social secretary.New York TimesLawmakers in South Carolina sought to repeal a 1951 law requiring “subversive agents” to register with the state government by paying a $5 fee and filling out a form and checking “yes” or “no” to answer the question “Do you or your organization directly or indirectly advocate, advise, teach or practice the duty or necessity of controlling, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States?”CBS NewsThe sentencing of rapper Lil Wayne for a weapons conviction was postponed after a fire in the courthouse,BBC Newsand a German man was arrested after snorting methamphetamine off the hood of a police car in Nuremberg. ReutersThe Pentagon said it would reconsider the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibitions against sodomy and oral sex as part of the reconsideration of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.CBS NewsPolice in New Jersey forced a woman to put clothes on a Venus de Milo snow sculpture,BBCand Topeka, Kansas, officially changed its name to Google, Kansas, for the next month. “Oh, heavens no,” said mayor Bill Bunten when asked about making the change permanent. “Topeka is an Indian word which means ‘a good place to grow potatoes.’ We’re not going to change that.”CNN

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On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.

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“Defining 'native' and 'invasive' in an ever-shifting natural world poses some problems. The camel, after all, is native to North America, though it went extinct here 8,000 years ago, while the sacrosanct redwood tree is invasive, having snuck in at some point in the past 65 million years.”
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Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:

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