Weekly Review — August 9, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

Somali government troops killed at least ten famine refugees at the Badbaado camp in Mogadishu after distribution of dry rations by the World Food Program devolved into looting. “They fired on us as if we were their enemy,” said Abidyo Geddi. “We donâ??t get much food, and the rare food they bring causes death and torture.” Thousands of Somalis fled to the United Nationsâ?? Dadaab complex in Kenya, enduring a weeks-long journey through hyena- and bandit-infested desert. “It is peaceful here,” said Ali Hulbale, who lives with his family at the edge of the camp. “There is no gunfire. But we are starving.”The GuardianLos Angeles TimesWhile Syrian tanks bombarded the cities of Hama and Deir Al-Zour to quash what the government called “acts of killing and terrorism,” police shot and killed 29-year-old Mark Duggan in the North London neighborhood of Tottenham, setting off riots throughout the British capital and in Birmingham.AP via Toronto StarChristian Science MonitorNew York TimesThe GuardianThe GuardianPresident Obama wished the worldâ??s Muslims a Ramadan Kareem (“Bountiful Ramadan”), avoiding the more common phrase Ramadan Mubarak (“Blessed Ramadan”), and the trial of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on murder and corruption charges began in Cairo.AFPReuters via New York TimesAl JazeeraThe Atlantic

Despite having overestimated the U.S. federal debt by at least $2 trillion, Standard and Poorâ??s downgraded the Unites Statesâ?? long-term credit rating from AAA to AA-plus, prompting one market analyst to warn, “This crisis will run and run, and could make Lehman look like a Tupperware party.”New York TimesThe GuardianIn session for a total of 59 seconds, a skeleton crew of Senate Democrats ended a partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, putting 4,000 employees back to work and allowing the government to resume collecting $200 million per week in airline-ticket taxes.New York TimesAP via Yahoo!Former New York gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party and Oscar-winning actress Faye Dunaway faced eviction from their rent-regulated apartments. “You donâ??t tell an American how to live,” McMillan said to reporters. “I hope you have a terrible life,” Dunaway said to her landlord.New York PostNew York TimesGovernor Rick Perry, whose April entreaty to his fellow Texans to pray for rain failed to alleviate the stateâ??s devastating drought, led some 30,000 worshippers in the Response, a Christian prayer gathering at Houstonâ??s Reliant Stadium. Though Perry and others urged attendees to fast, concession stands sold nachos and smoothies throughout the seven-hour event. A San Angelo revivalist skipped lunch but bought a hot dog around 4:00 p.m. “Thatâ??s the agreement I made with God earlier,” he said.The Texas TribuneNew York TimesThe Texas TribuneThe Texas TribuneThe Texas Tribune

Graduate students in Texas demonstrated that such materials as grass, chocolate, cockroach legs, and miniature-dachshund feces can be used to create graphene, a form of carbon prized for its conductivity, and estimated that a sheet of graphene derived from a box of Girl Scout shortbread cookies would cover three football fields and be worth $15 billion.Science DailyAustralian researchers persisted in attempting to engineer artificial dingo urine, and Tasmanians testified that local marsupials remain a threat to the islandâ??s opium crop. “We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles,” said attorney general Lara Giddings. “Then they crash.”ReutersGlobal PostWomen in the remote Colombian town of Barbacoas continued to protest inadequate roads and medical care by withholding sex from their partners, and South African scientists found that elephant seal cows, who are sometimes crushed by bulls during lovemaking, use the ocean to their advantage. “Coercing a female is so much more difficult in the water because she has more options,” said one ecologist.The GuardianDiscoverCattle ranchers tested their herds for brisket disease, Ukrainians vowed to stop forcing vodka on bears in roadside hotels, Buddhists freed 534 lobsters in observance of Wheel Turning Day, and journalists in Connecticut investigated the mariachi trio responsible for serenading a beluga whale at the Mystic Aquarium last month. “It seems that you can have interactions with a beluga,” said guitarist Eduardo Rocha. “You cannot do that with a shark.”New York TimesReutersReutersWSHU

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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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