Weekly Review — July 27, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Wikileaks released thousands of military field reports from six years of the war in Afghanistan, including several asserting that representatives of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence met with Taliban leaders to coordinate attacks against American troops and plan assassinations of Afghan leaders, and that the Taliban has been using heat-seeking missiles provided to the mujahideen by the United States during Afghanistan’s Soviet occupation. The reports also describe widespread corruption among Afghanistan’s military and police. “I asked the seven patrolmen we detained to sit and relax while we sorted through a problem without ever mentioning why they were being detained,” one report reads. “Three of the patrolmen responded by saying that they had only taken money from the truck drivers to buy fuel for their generator.” Another report describes what happened after an Afghan civilian protested the rape by a police commander of a 16-year-old girl. “The district commander ordered his bodyguard to open fire on the AC [Afghan civilian],” it says. “The bodyguard refused, at which time the district commander shot [the bodyguard] in front of the AC.” “The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information,” said National Security Adviser General James Jones. “Look,” said a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai about the reports, “this is nothing new.”New York TimesNew York TimesNew York TimesAt least 45 Afghan civilians were killed in Helmand province when a NATO rocket hit a mud house in which they had taken shelter from fighting between NATO and Taliban forces.New York TimesA stampede during the Love Parade, an electronic music festival in Germany, killed eighteen people, and an Arab Israeli was sentenced to 18 months for rape after he slept with a woman under the pretense that he was an eligible Jewish bachelor. New York TimesHaaretz Daily

President Barack Obama signed into law the Restoring American Financial Stability Act, which expands federal regulation to derivatives markets and other previously unregulated areas of the financial system and creates a panel to monitor risks to the financial system. “These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history,” Obama said. Analysts estimated that three quarters of the bill’s substance would be determined later, and congressional Democrats and labor leaders pushed for Elizabeth Warren, the architect of the consumer financial protection bureau created by the bill, to be named its first head. “Symbolically, it does seem incredibly important to pick somebody who not only invented the idea,” said Stephen Lerner of the Service Employees International Union, “but someone who doesn??t claim to be a neutral.”New York TimesNew York TimesForbesNew York TimesThe Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13 to 6 to approve Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, sending her candidacy to the full Senate for confirmation. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was the lone Republican to vote in favor of Kagan. “No one spent more time trying to beat President Obama than I did,” said Graham, who was also the only Republican committee member to vote for Sonia Sotomayor. “But President Obama won.”Washington PostWashington PostBP’s board met to decide the future of CEO Tony Hayward, and the rock band Kings of Leon abandoned the stage three songs into a concert in St. Louis after a pigeon shat in their bass player’s mouth.MSNBCBBC

Forensic scientists in Romania dug up the official graves of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu to determine whether the bodies of the former dictator and his wife are really buried there.New York TimesAmazon.com announced that it was selling more ebooks than hardcovers for the first time, and the Library of Congress, which oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, ruled that iPhone owners can legally “jailbreak” their phones to download software that is not approved by Apple.GuardianNew York TimesOfficials revealed that prisoners in a northern Mexican prison had been allowed out at night to moonlight as hitmen using vehicles and weapons provided by prison guards.New York TimesA British hedge-fund manager spent roughly $1 billion on 240,000 tons of cocoa beans in an effort to corner the world cocoa market, and scientists in England were developing Ecobot III, a self-sustaining robot that feeds on biomass, digesting it in an artificial gut and excreting waste into a litter tray. “Diarrhea-bot would be more appropriate,” said the director of the lab working on the project. “It’s not exactly knocking out rabbit pellets.” BBCMSNBC

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Lives by Omission

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Cattle Calls

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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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