Weekly Review — March 15, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

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

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake in northeast Japan triggered a massive tsunami, killing at least 10,000 people in what Prime Minister Naoto Kan called the country’s worst crisis since World War II. Hundreds of miles of coastline remained unreachable as hundreds of thousands of survivors struggled to find food and water, and nearly 2 million were without electricity in near-freezing temperatures. In the town of Minamisanrikucho, nearly two thirds of the population of 17,000 were missing and most of the buildings had washed away. Two nuclear power plants experienced partial meltdowns. Workers struggled to cool reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, dumping seawater in them and periodically releasing radioactive steam in an attempt to avoid full meltdowns. The earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Japan, moved the country’s main island by eight feet and shifted the Earth on its axis. Japan’s stringent building codes, which require hydraulic shock absorbers and giant rubber pads at the foundations of skyscrapers, were credited with saving countless lives; in Sendai, a city of a million people near the epicenter, no buildings had collapsed during the earthquake.AP via YahooNew York TimesCNNNew York TimesNew York TimesCBS NewsIn Crescent City, California, a 25-year-old man was swept out to sea and killed while he photographed the tsunami waves that had traveled across the Pacific Ocean.Los Angeles Times

After Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill that strips public employees of their collective-bargaining rights, the 14 Democratic state senators who fled in an effort to obstruct the bill returned. They were met by 100,000 supporters, marking the biggest protest since the crisis began a month ago, with many chanting “This is what democracy looks like!”Los Angeles TimesHundreds of antigovernment protesters were injured by police in both Bahrain and Yemen, and France became the first country to recognize Libya’s opposition leadership as the country’s official government.Washington PostBBCAn Al Jazeera cameraman was killed in an ambush near Benghazi, the rebel headquarters, and Muammar Qaddafi’s forces tortured three BBC correspondents reporting on the three-week-old revolt.CBS NewsNew York TimesMohammed ElBaradei, the former head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, said that he intends to run for president of Egypt later this year.Al JazeeraIn a room once used by the House Un-American Activities Committee, Representative Peter King (R., N.Y.), a supporter of the Irish RepublicanArmy, began hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims; one speaker, Representative Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), wept as he testified about a fellow Muslim American who died as a first responder on September 11, 2001.New York TimesWashington PostTwo years after promising to close Guantánamo Bay, President Obama ordered military trials for terror suspects to resume there, citing Congress’s opposition to trials on U.S. soil.Washington PostMillions of fish, many of them sardines, died in Redondo Beach, California, after oxygen levels in the water plummeted for unknown reasons.Los Angeles TimesThe Dalai Lama announced his retirement.The Guardian

P. J. Crowley resigned as State Department spokesman after calling the prison treatment of suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”CNNThe 20-year-old police chief of a border town in Juarez Valley, Mexico, who took the job last fall when no one else would, escaped to Texas after receiving death threats from drug cartels.BBCStanford University discontinued a list of easy classes, such as “Social Dances of North America III,” that was routinely distributed to student athletes.California WatchScientists identified some of the hundreds of genetic changes that have occurred since humans diverged from chimpanzees 7 million years ago; two pieces of DNA that have been lost relate to the suppression of brain cells, and also spiny penises.The GuardianNewly unearthed photos show Eva Braun in bikinis, practicing yoga, and in blackface, impersonating Jewish actor Al Jolson impersonating a black man.New York Daily NewsAdjusting for inflation, labor researchers determined that the cost of a slave is at an historic low, at $90 today as compared with $40,000 200 years ago.CNNUsing quality-of-life indicators such as eating habits, stress levels, and work satisfaction, Gallup identified the happiest man in America as Alvin Wong, a tall, 69-year-old, Chinese-American observant Jew who is married with children and lives in Honolulu.New York TimesDuring a hearing on energy-efficiency standards for appliances, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) accused a Department of Energy official of oppression: “Frankly, my toilets donâ??t work in my house,” he said. “And I blame you and people like you who want to tell me what I can install in my house, what I can do.” The official, Kathleen Hogan, the deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency, replied, “I can help you find a toilet that works.”ABC News

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The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.

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With its lens shifting from the courtroom to the newsroom to people’s back yards, the series evokes the way in which, for a brief, delusory moment, the O. J. verdict seemed to deliver justice for all black men.
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