Weekly Review — August 10, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]
A Christian martyr.

Federal judge Vaughn Walker ruled that California’s Proposition 8, which sought to ban gay marriage, violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. “Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians,” the judge said in his opinion. “The evidence shows that, by every available metric, opposite-sex couples are not better than their same-sex counterparts.” Conservative groups opposed to the ruling claimed Walkerâ??s own sexual orientation influenced his decision. “Here we have an openly gay federal judge,” explained chairwoman of The National Organization for Marriage, Maggie Gallagher, “substituting his views for those of the American people and of our Founding Fathers who, I promise you, would be shocked by courts that imagine they have the right to put gay marriage in our Constitution.” “I feel,” said one protestor of the ruling, “like I don’t live in America.” ReutersRaw StoryMSNBCMexico‘s Supreme Court upheld a Mexico City law allowing gay people to marry, the mayor of ReykjavĂ­k marched in drag in the city’s gay pride parade, and a group of men in Sudan were publicly flogged for dancing in a “womanly fashion.” LA TimesIceland ReviewBBCA veterinarian in San Bernardino, California, performed sex reassignment surgery on a hermaphroditic Pomeranian, and the Milwaukee teachers union demanded that its health insurance cover Viagra, alleging that failing to do so discriminates against male employees. Press-EnterpriseRaw Story

Elena Kagan became the 112th justice of the Supreme Court and the fourth female justice. Washington PostThe Senate passed a $26 billion spending bill to aid state budget shortfalls, and BP successfully deployed its “static kill” strategy, plugging the blown-out Deepwater Horizon well with mud and cement. “You want to make sure it’s really dead dead dead,” explained Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Don’t want anything to rise out of the grave.” “Clearly there’s lots of oil and gas here,” said BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles, “and we’ll have to think about what to do with that at some point.” Raw StoryNew York TimesWashington PostCNNA piece of ice measuring 100 square miles broke off of Greenland, and wildfires burned across Russia, while world leaders met in Bonn, Germany, to continue the climate change talks that stalled last winter in Copenhagen, but again failed to produce a binding resolution. “It’s like a flashback,” said one environmental activist. “At this point,” said U.S. delegate Jonathan Pershing, “I am very concerned.” BBCBBCRaw StoryEngineers in Bristol developed a “poo-powered” Volkswagen Beetle, the Cadillac Escalade was the most stolen vehicle for the eighth straight year, and Caroline Giuliani, the daughter of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, was arrested for shoplifting at a Sephora. BBCCNNNew York TimesDermatologists at the University of Edinburgh reported that the genuine allover tan was an impossibility.BBC

A woman in Atlanta used her toes to type for help after burglars left her tied up in her home, and a man in Michigan discovered he had Type 2 Diabetes after his dog bit off his big toe while he was passed out drunk. “He ate it,” said the man. “I mean, he must have eaten it, because we couldn’t find it anywhere else in the house.” AOL NewsGrand Rapids NewsSnooker world champion Alex Higgins, once described by Daily Mail as “a belligerent narcissist, filled with self-pity and towering anger,” who “never allowed concern for others to put any restraint on his appetites, whether it be for drink or drugs or sex,” died at 61. NYTimesBill Cosby denied being dead, and Florida’s health department reported an outbreak of Dengue Fever in Key West. Vanity FairCNNA carnival in Pennsylvania took down its “shoot a dart at Obama” game. Raw StoryMichelle and Sasha Obama vacationed in southern Spain, spending time on a hundred-yard stretch of beach cleared by the Spanish police, while President Obama celebrated his 49th birthday at a “finance dinner,” which guests paid $30,400 to attend.Christian Science MonitorChristian Science MonitorFormer Fugee Wyclef Jean, whose hits include “Ready or Not,” “Gone Till November,” and “We Trying to Stay Alive,” announced his intention to run for the Haitian presidency. “If not for the earthquake,” said Jean, “I probably would have waited another 10 years before doing this.”BBC

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

Photograph (detail) by Karine Laval

Age at death last March of the sturgeon Nikita, Khrushchev’s gift to Norway, after an accidental immersion in salt water:

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