Weekly Review — May 18, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

Conservative Party leader David Cameron became the British prime minister after agreeing to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. Cameron and the Tories joined with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats after Clegg began negotiating with Labour Party leaders about ruling through a minority coalition. Clegg’s bluff forced the Conservatives to concede to the Liberal Democrats’ demand that Britain hold a public referendum on electoral reform. London Mayor Boris Johnson called the maneuvering “ludicrous skullduggery” that was “absolutely spectacular and scandalous.” After four out of five Britons said they approved of the coalition government, Johnson praised the arrangement: “I just said it was like a cross between a bulldog and chihuahua, but what I meant is it will have a fantastic hybrid vigor.”NYTNYTBBCNYTThe Philippines held automated elections for the first time in the nation’s history. Although canvassing had not officially ended, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, son of martyred politician Ninoy Aquino and former president Corazon Aquino, who died in August, was expected to win the presidency. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., whose father is believed to have ordered the 1983 assassination of Aquino’s father, seemed likely to win one of twelve open senatorial seats. His mother, Imelda Marcos, was elected to the House of Representatives, along with outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao. Despite vote buying, voter intimidation, and defective ballot-reading machines, officials were relieved that the election hadn’t failed. “We’re smiling again,” said Elections Commissioner Jose Melo. “The machines worked more than we expected.” USA TodayPhilippine Daily InquirerPhilippine Daily InquirerPhilippine Daily InquirerGMA News TVPhilippine Daily InquirerPhilippine Daily Inquirer

Terrorists carried out the deadliest attacks in Iraq so far this year, killing at least 119 people in a series of coordinated car bombings in ten cities and forcing U.S. military commanders to question whether they will be able to withdraw troops as scheduled in August. “Wait for the long gloomy nights and dark days soaked with blood,” insurgent leader Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman wrote on a militant website. “What is happening to you nowadays is just a drizzle.” AP The TimesAP Rogue Thai General Khattiya Sawatdiphol, who had been protecting anti-government protesters in Bangkok from the military, was shot in the head moments after saying, “The government cannot get in here.” He died three days later. Thirty-five people were killed in subsequent clashes, with Thai troops shooting tear gas and bullets at protesters, who defended themselves with homemade rockets, sharpened bamboo poles, and plastic bags filled with spicy fish sauce.NYTNYTNYTA middle-aged landlord in the Chinese city of Hanzhong was overheard complaining about his rent on his way to a kindergarten, where he used a cleaver to hack to death a teacher, her mother, and seven children before returning home and committing suicide;NYTan elderly Illinois man shot and killed a 23-year-old father of two whose dog urinated on his lawn; Chicago Tribuneand a prostitute at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona, punctured a concierge’s scalp with her stiletto heel because he called a yellow taxi for her. The woman later told police that hotel employees “should know I need a sedan.” Smoking Gun

Massive, salad-dressing-like plumes of oil were observed in the Gulf of Mexico, one of which was estimated to be ten miles long, three miles wide, and up to three hundred feet thick. Scientists said oil may be escaping from BP’s damaged well at a rate five to sixteen times the government’s estimate of 5,000 barrels per day. BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward called the spill “relatively tiny” in relation to the “very big ocean” and promised that his company would fix the leak. “The only question,” he said, “is we do not know when.” At congressional hearings, BP’s representative blamed Transocean, the company that owns the Deep Horizon rig where the accident occurred; a Transocean executive blamed Halliburton for building the well’s defective concrete casing; and Halliburton’s representative said his company was only following BP’s orders. President Obama blamed all three for “falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else.” NYTGuardianCNNCNNObama visited Duff’s Famous Wings in Buffalo, New York, where 45-year-old customer Luann Haley told him he was a “hottie with a smokin’ little body”CBSnewsand a billboard outside depicted unemployed college students. “Dear Mr. President,” the billboard said, “we need a freakin’ job.”CBSnewsThe housing market was rebounding in Las Vegas, where contractors were building 1,100 new homes, even as more than 15,000 brand new and foreclosed houses remained empty. “Our customers wouldn’t care if there were 50 homes in an established neighborhood of 1980 or 1990 vintage, all foreclosed, empty and for sale at $10,000 or less,” said real estate executive Brent Anderson. “They want new. And what are we going to do, let someone else build it?” NYT

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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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