Weekly Review — December 20, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Saluting the Town, March 1854]

U.S. military officials declared the end of the Iraq War during a 45-minute ceremony in a fortified compound at Baghdad International Airport. Iraqâ??s president and prime minister did not attend, and local reporters were not invited. “To be sure, the cost was high,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, “in blood and treasure of the United States and also the Iraqi people.” In Fallujah, Iraqis celebrated by burning American flags. “I lost brothers and many relatives because of American bombs,” said a resident of Ramadi. “I benefited by having a good job and a salary with which I can get whatever I need.” Eighty Iraqi civilians were killed during the final week of the war, and David Hickman, a 23-year-old Army paratrooper, was declared the 4,474th and last U.S. soldier to die in the conflict.APNY Times At War BlogAFPNY Times At War Blogiraqbodycount.orgAPWashington PostIn Homs, demonstrators hung Syrian political figures in effigy, and security forces killed at least six protesters; in Cairo, troops attacked demonstrators in Tahrir Square, killing at least nine, and firebombed the state geographical society; and in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisians gathered around a statue of a fruit cart to celebrate the one-year anniversary of vendor Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation, which helped inspire the Arab Spring.Reuters AfricaBBCChicago Sun-TimesBBCNPRWriter, human-rights activist, and former Czech president Vaclav Havel died at age 75, and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-Il died at age 69. “His legacy will be that â??truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred,â??” said Havelâ??s former adviser Tomas Sedlacek, quoting Havel.CNNBBCAP“The whole life of Kim Jong Il,” read a statement from the official Korean Central News Agency, “was the most brilliant life of a great revolutionary who covered an untrodden thorny path with his iron will and superhuman energy, holding aloft the red flag of revolution.” Kimâ??s 29-year-old son, Kim Jong-Un, was named his “great successor.”APScientists in Switzerland said theyâ??d found “tantalizing hints” of the so-called “God particle,” and writer Christopher Hitchens died at age 62. GuardianNY TimesAP via Boston Globe

Canada became the first country to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, provoking objections from China and India, two of the worldâ??s largest greenhouse gas emitters.Montreal GazetteGlobe and MailChicago TribuneOfficials in Los Angeles disclosed that they had infiltrated Occupy LA on suspicions that protesters were stockpiling bamboo spears and buckets of human feces.ReutersCongress passed a $662 billion defense spending bill that allows for indefinite detention of terror suspects. “And when they say, â??I want my lawyer,â??” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), “you tell them, â??Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.â??”APLA TimesGuardianThe Pentagon launched an investigation into a photo showing 15 airmen at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas gathered around an open casket carrying a fellow soldier playing dead with a noose around his neck and chains draped across his body. “Da Dumpt, Da Dumptâ?¦ Sucks 2 Be U,” read the photoâ??s caption.AFPAir Force TimesFormer French president Jacques Chirac was convicted of corruption for employing nineteen “ghost workers” while he was mayor of Paris, and Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin addressed allegations of fraud in his country’s parliamentary elections, claiming that antigovernment protesters had been paid to march. “Fine, let them earn a little money,” he said, adding that the white ribbons they wore looked like condoms.APAFPThe NationalGuardianForeign PolicyAt the final G.O.P. presidential debate before the Iowa Caucuses in January, Michele Bachmann criticized Newt Gingrich for failing to take a strong enough stance against abortion. “The Republican Party canâ??t get the issue of life wrong,” Bachmann said. “This is a seminal issue.”Washington Post

A church in New Zealand erected a billboard depicting a distressed Virgin Mary glancing down at a pregnancy test, and the Southern Baptist Conventionâ??s publishing division began recalling pink Bibles sold to support breast cancer research after it received complaints that some of the proceeds were funding screenings at Planned Parenthood.New York Daily News3news.co.nzAP via FoxThe TennesseanDoctors reported that a cancer survivor in Baltimore had to have her breast implant surgically extracted after it slipped behind her ribcage during a Pilates breathing exercise. “My body swallowed my boob,” the woman reportedly told her doctor.New England Journal of MedicineABC NewsHundreds of apples fell from the sky over Coventry, England.BBCThousands of Eared Grebes crashed into a Utah Wal-Mart parking lot theyâ??d mistaken for a pond during their migration to Mexico.CBS NewsThe lawyer for former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky counseled anyone who believed the child-molestation accusations against his client to “dial 1-800-REALITY,” a sex line for gay and bi-curious men.Christian Science MonitorHuffington PostAP via Chicago Sun-TimesA woman in Zephyrhills, Florida, was arrested for attacking her ex-boyfriend with the antlers of a mounted deer head; a crucified Santa Claus skeleton was decapitated outside of a county courthouse in Leesburg, Virginia; and a mall Santa at the Logan Hyperdome in Queensland, Australia, was fired after offering to give autistic brothers Cameron and Liam Sleeth a jail cell for Christmas. “Even after Santa said it,” said the boysâ?? mother, “Cameron was still giving him hugs.”St. Petersburg TimesMSNBCnews.com.au

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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.

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