Weekly Review — November 29, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

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

The congressional supercommittee assigned to devise a plan for reining in the federal deficit failed to reach an agreement, triggering $1.2 trillion in budget cuts that will take effect in 2013, including cuts to defense spending and Medicare. Senate Democrats planned to follow up the failed talks by introducing $400 billion in new spending legislation over the coming weeks, while Republicans indicated that they would try to reconfigure the automatic cuts in order to spare defense programs. “The knives,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), “are over our heads.”Los Angeles TimesThe HillReuters via NBCPoliticoProtesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement ate donated Thanksgiving dinners in encampments across the country, while occupations in Philadelphia and Los Angeles faced eviction deadlines. “We??ve been sitting around, drinking coffee,” said a Philadelphia occupier. “This is bringing us back together.”CNNRaw StoryNew York TimesIn the course of Black Friday sales across the United States, police knocked a grandfather unconscious at a Walmart in Arizona and tasered a man at a Walmart in Alabama; an off-duty police officer pepper-sprayed unruly shoppers at a Walmart in North Carolina; a woman pepper-sprayed fellow shoppers to get to a discounted Xbox 360 at a Walmart in California; and customers rioted over $2 waffle irons at a Walmart in Arkansas.CNNWAFFBBCCBSWBTVAndrea True, singer of the disco song “More, More, More,” died.BBCI.B.M. noted a downward trend in the height of high-heeled shoes.New York Times

Egypt’s military installed a Mubarak-era prime minister to head the country??s interim government, fueling protests that have seen thousands of people wounded and at least 40 killed.Associated PressCNNCNNNew York TimesYemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, agreed to step down after 33 years in power, and Swazi officials denied that Queen Nothando Dube, the twelfth wife of King Mswati, was kicked out of the royal palace by the Queen Mother for pepper-spraying a guard.Associated PressBBCAn Australian hospital aborted the wrong fetal twin, and a Connecticut town accidentally elected the wrong man because of a ballot typo.BBCCBSThe FBI arrested seven Amish men for a series of beard attacks on other Amish men.Fox NewsThe bodies of 50 men were found in western Mexico, some naked and some marked with the names of drug gangs. Raw StoryThe mayor of a Peruvian coastal town said the drinking water was turning residents gay, and a Pakistani woman attempted to cook and eat her husband. “There could be two factors behind her intention to cook the husband,” explained the local police chief. “One is to destroy the evidence and the other could be her immense hatred against him.”Wisconsin GazetteAFP via Raw StoryScientists discovered a 150,000-year-old skull bearing signs of head trauma from a projectile, which would make it the earliest known evidence of violence between humans.BBC

Psychopaths were found to have uniquely structured brains.Science DailyAn English woman was found guilty of microwaving a kitten.BBCEngineers unveiled plans to create cyborg insects, and South Korean researchers were building a prison-guard robot. “We are now working on refining its details,” explained one of the scientists, “to make it look more friendly to inmates.”BBCBBCA self-proclaimed doctor was under arrest in Florida for injecting a mixture of cement, superglue, and flat-tire sealant into a woman??s buttock as part of an augmentation procedure.Miami HeraldFifteen Indian eunuchs died when a fire broke out at an annual eunuch convention in New Delhi.AFP via Express TribuneAudience members were experiencing seizures during the film “Twilight: Breaking Dawn.”CBSTwo Illinois lawmakers proposed that Chicago become a state, and Scottish students who burned Barack Obama in effigy apologized to the president.WAND TVDaily MailMitt Romney??s barber, Leon de Magistris, revealed that Romney does not use gel or dye in his hair. “I will tell him to mess it up a little bit,” said de Magistris. “He wants a look that is very controlled. He is a very controlled man.”New York TimesThe Vatican’s chief exorcist warned Catholics about the dangers of yoga. “You think you are doing it for stretching,” said Father Gabriele Amorth, “but it leads to Hinduism.”Daily Mail

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The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.

The extinction symbol is a spare graphic that began to appear on London walls and sidewalks a couple of years ago. It has since become popular enough as an emblem of protest that people display it at environmental rallies. Others tattoo it on their arms. The symbol consists of two triangles inscribed within a circle, like so:

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“Now may be the unlikeliest time for us to grow a conscience about how our rapacity is endangering other species, since we’re now aware of how frightfully our rapacity is endangering us.”
Collage (detail) by David McLimans

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