Weekly Review — May 17, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

In Shabqadar, Pakistan, two men approached a group of paramilitary cadets and blew themselves up, riddling the crowd with ball bearings and killing sixty-six members of the Frontier Constabulary, many of whom had recently graduated. The Taliban took responsibility for the attack, calling it retribution for the assassination of Osama bin Laden.GuardianFive days after Israelis celebrated their independence day, Palestinian protesters in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and the West Bank commemorated the Nakba, or catastrophe, the displacement of Palestians from their land. In Syria, the Nakba protests briefly overshadowed uprisings against the Assad regime, which continued its campaign of violent crackdowns and mass arrests. “We donâ??t know where weâ??re going,” said one Syrian dissident. “We donâ??t know whatâ??s next.”WPNYTGuardianNYTFor the first time in nearly four decades, officials in Louisiana opened the Morganza Spillway, a network of locks and levees, hoping to prevent flooding in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and other cities farther down the swollen Mississippi River. It was estimated that more than four-fifths of the land in Yazoo County, Mississippi, would be inundated at a time when the regionâ??s cash cropsâ??soy, cotton, corn, and riceâ??are already in the ground. “Iâ??m staying here until water comes up the driveway,” said Bob Cato, a retired civil engineer. “Iâ??m too old to start over.”AP via LATChristian Science Monitor

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund and a prominent member of the French Socialist Party, was pulled off an Air France flight minutes before departure and taken to Harlem, where he was booked by the Manhattan Special Victims Unit for allegedly forcing a hotel maid to perform fellatio on him. “Iâ??m convinced of an international plot,” said Michelle Sabban, a political ally of Strauss-Kahn. “Everyone knows his weakness is seduction, women. Thatâ??s how they got him.”New YorkerNYTLe MondeAFP via Le FigaroThe Senate Ethics Committee released a report on its investigation of John Ensign, describing one case in which the former Nevada senator had to be talked out of adultery by his “spiritual advisor,” Tim Coe. “I know exactly where you are. I know exactly what you are doing,” Coe reportedly told Ensign over the phone. “Put your pants on and go home.”Las Vegas Review-JournalU.S. SenateRaj Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon Group hedge fund, was found guilty on fourteen counts of securities fraud. The three male prosecutors, according to juror Leila Gonzalez Gorman, were “all hot,” and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who testified in the case, wore a “cute little smirk” and a “painted-on smile.”NYTNYTIt was reported that Iceland had entered a period of national soul-searching in the aftermath of its financial collapse. “Knitting is the opposite of idolizing money,” said Ragga Eiriksdottir, a former sex columnist who now knits professionally. “People are also making jam,” said another Icelander. NYT

The Taurus constellation experienced an intense flareup in its Crab Nebula, New Jersey scientists observed women masturbating inside MRI machines, Werner Herzog called for a holy war against yoga, and officials in Orlando made power from feces.Science DailyNew ScientistGQOrlando Sentinel via Palm Beach PostEnglish birders waited anxiously for the results of the latest bird census, hoping it would explain a baffling explosion in the number of rose-ringed parakeets, which they fear may displace native species. “I saw one have it in with a jackdaw,” said graduate student Hannah Peck. “The jackdaw lost.”NYTA pallid harrier named Victoria was one of twenty-two protected birds injured during Maltaâ??s hunting season, an annual fifteen-day spree that takes place in contravention of the European Union Birds Directive. The bird was flown to Berlin for emergency medical care.Der SpiegelIn Cologne, a seal named Henry was able to detect fish over three hundred feet away using just his whiskers, a skill scientists tested by fitting him with an eye mask and noise-canceling headphones.BBCLive ScienceIn DĂĽsseldorf, Azeri musicians Ell and Nikki won the annual Eurovision Song Contest, handily beating Finnish singer-songwriter Paradise Oskar, transsexual Israeli diva Dana International, and a gnome-hatted, unicycling Moldovan ska band called Zdob si Zdub. “The result was a little bit unfair, but it’s okay,” said the Moldovans. “The most important thing is to show everyone that we exist.”GuardianEurovision

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For the past three years my dosimeter had sat silently on a narrow shelf just inside the door of a house in Tokyo, upticking its final digit every twenty-four hours by one or two, the increase never failing — for radiation is the ruthless companion of time. Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly. During those three years, my American neighbors had lost sight of the accident at Fukushima. In March 2011, a tsunami had killed hundreds, or thousands; yes, they remembered that. Several also recollected the earthquake that caused it, but as for the hydrogen explosion and containment breach at Nuclear Plant No. 1, that must have been fixed by now — for its effluents no longer shone forth from our national news. Meanwhile, my dosimeter increased its figure, one or two digits per day, more or less as it would have in San Francisco — well, a trifle more, actually. And in Tokyo, as in San Francisco, people went about their business, except on Friday nights, when the stretch between the Kasumigaseki and Kokkai-Gijido-mae subway stations — half a dozen blocks of sidewalk, which commenced at an antinuclear tent that had already been on this spot for more than 900 days and ended at the prime minister’s lair — became a dim and feeble carnival of pamphleteers and Fukushima refugees peddling handicrafts.

One Friday evening, the refugees’ half of the sidewalk was demarcated by police barriers, and a line of officers slouched at ease in the street, some with yellow bullhorns hanging from their necks. At the very end of the street, where the National Diet glowed white and strange behind other buildings, a policeman set up a microphone, then deployed a small video camera in the direction of the muscular young people in drums against fascists jackets who now, at six-thirty sharp, began chanting: “We don’t need nuclear energy! Stop nuclear power plants! Stop them, stop them, stop them! No restart! No restart!” The police assumed a stiffer stance; the drumming and chanting were almost uncomfortably loud. Commuters hurried past along the open space between the police and the protesters, staring straight ahead, covering their ears. Finally, a fellow in a shabby sweater appeared, and murmured along with the chants as he rounded the corner. He was the only one who seemed to sympathize; few others reacted at all.

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