Weekly Review — April 13, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: The Wire Master and his puppets, 1875]
The wire master and his puppets, 1875.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and 94 others were killed when their plane crashed in heavy fog en route to a forest near Katyn, Russia, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the massacre of thousands of Polish prisoners by the Soviet secret police during World War II. The Polish delegation included the army chief of staff, the head of the National Security Bureau, the national bank president, and senior members of parliament.Los Angeles TimesThere was speculation that the pilot was coerced to land, despite warnings by air-traffic controllers to find an alternate airport, so that the delegates would not be late for a memorial ceremony.New York TimesKyrgyzstan’s president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was driven into hiding but refused to resign after police killed dozens and wounded hundreds more who were demonstrating against corruption and nepotism in his administration. An interim government emerged and accused Bakiyev of emptying state bank accounts when he fled and leaving just $21 million in the country, where the United States operates an important military air base that supports operations in Afghanistan.News DailyCNNPresident Obama signed a nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia that reduces the nations’ stockpiles by a third, and announced plans to end the development of new nuclear weapons; he also declared that the United States would not use nuclear weapons against any country abiding by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if that country attacks the United States with chemical or biological weapons. Sarah Palin then likened the president to a child in the playground asking for a punch in the face.ABC NewsTiger Woods heckled himself after a mediocre performance at the Masters golf tournament, saying: “Tiger Woods, you suck.”Yahoo! Sports

An explosion at the violation-ridden Upper Big Branch coal mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, killed 29 miners 1,000 feet below ground in the worst U.S. mining disaster since 1984.The WeekABC NewsDays before his ninetieth birthday, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced his intention to retire in June. CNNTwo fighter jets escorted a plane to Denver after a Qatari diplomat tried to cover up his bathroom cigarette smoking by joking that he was setting his shoes on fire, and two women were arrested after attempting to board a plane from Liverpool to Berlin with a dead 91-year-old whom they claimed to believe was sleeping. “He was alive,” protested the dead man’s wife. “He was pale but he wasn’t dead.”Los Angeles TimesBBCPunk impresario Malcolm McLaren died, as did George Nissen, tumbling enthusiast and inventor of the trampoline, and Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Munchkin coroner in “The Wizard of Oz.”New York TimesInternational Gymnast MagazineAPNBC admitted that it engages in “behavior placement,” the practice of incorporating marketers’ messages in television storylines to influence viewers’ habits and help sell ads to companies whose products then get associated with a socially aware program; in order to attract “green” advertisers, for instance, characters in “30 Rock,” “Law & Order,” and “The Office” are shown recycling, driving hybrid cars, and switching to energy-saving light bulbs.Wall Street JournalEarthworms were found to be more social than previously thought, communicating through touch to form herds and travel together.BBC

Governor Robert McDonnell declared April Confederate History Month in Virginia, a move that angered civil rights leaders, in part due to the omission of any reference to slavery in the proclamation, but Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour claimed that the controversy is “just a nit.” “It’s trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn’t matter for diddly.”Washington PostHuffington PostSpanish researchers discovered that the same brain circuits help to control feelings of both empathy and violence.Science DailyHundreds of Carlsberg brewery employees walked off the job in Copenhagen to protest the company’s new policy of allowing beer drinking only at lunchtime, and scientists in Beijing were working to identify an animal that emerged from woodlands in remote central China and came to be known as the “Oriental yeti.” Cryptozoologists worried that media hype surrounding the creature, which looks like a furless bear with the tail of a kangaroo and the voice of a cat, would discredit real yeti research.Daily MailLondon TimesChristian Science MonitorA nine-year-old boy discovered the nearly 2-million-year-old remains of a child in Cradle of Humankind, South Africa; the previously unknown hominid species walked upright with human-shaped hips but still climbed through trees on apelike arms and had a tiny brain.New York TimesSeven months after adopting a seven-year-old from a Russian orphanage, a Tennessee woman put the unaccompanied boy on a flight back to Moscow with candy, magic markers, and a note addressed “To whom it may concern” and declaring that “I no longer wish to parent this child,” which caused Russia to suspend all adoptions of Russian children by Americans.Daily MailNew York TimesScientists suggested that near-death experiences (described as life flashing before the eyes, feelings of peace and joy, and encounters with mystical entities) may be caused by too much carbon dioxide in the blood, and members of a Texas church assembled a one-and-a-half-ton serving of nachos in order to “show that you don’t have to be stiff and starchy to love God.”Science DailyDallas Morning News

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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