Weekly Review — February 21, 2012, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

An angry-looking, monkey-like creature showing its teeth.

A prison fire in Honduras killed 359 people, making it the deadliest such fire on record. An inmate was reported to have started the fire after phoning the state governor’s office and saying he was going to burn down the prison, then lighting his bedding on fire. The facility officially housed 857 prisoners, more than double its intended capacity, and was being supervised by 12 guards, who prevented firefighters from entering while the fire spread. “The guards first thought they had a prison break,” said the director of Honduras’s prison system, “so they followed the law saying no one could enter to prevent unnecessary deaths.” The U.S. military’s Joint Task Force Bravo, which was stationed near the prison, sent masks, flashlights, and glow sticks.Boston.comUSA TodayWikipediaAPAPForty-four people died in a prison riot in Mexico, Islamist gunmen freed 119 people from a jail in Nigeria, and three people were killed in Manila during a failed attempt by Islamist guerrillas to free an imprisoned comrade.NY TimesAFP via Yahoo! NewsAP via NPRIsrael’s ambassador to Thailand accused Iran of involvement in bombing attempts against Israeli diplomats in Bangkok, New Delhi, and Tbilisi.NY TimesChristian Science MonitorSean Stone, son of filmmaker Oliver Stone, converted to Islam in Tehran, and in Buenos Aires actor Sean Penn criticized the United Kingdom for its “colonialist” rule over the Falkland Islands.Tehran TimesGuardianResidents of Nogent-sur-Marne, France, challenged their town’s decision to depict the face of Italian-born first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy on a bronze statue of a worker rather than that of a male mason, and Icelandic musicians protested the State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland’s ban on Motörhead-brand shiraz, named after the English heavy metal band. “It is a violation of human rights,” said SĂłlstafir lead singer AĂ°albjörn Tryggvason, “to not be able to buy yourself red wine.”AFP via TelegraphAPReykjavĂ­k GrapevineReykjavĂ­k Grapevine

 

Dave Mustaine, lead singer of the heavy metal band Megadeth, announced, then denied, his endorsement of G.O.P. presidential candidate Rick Santorum, and Santorum’s main financial backer, billionaire investor Foster Friess, apologized for comments he made about contraception. “Back in my days they used Bayer aspirin,” said Friess. “The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”Music RadarCNN via Raw StoryReutersThree House Democrats walked out of a committee hearing on contraception, in protest of a witness panel consisting entirely of male religious leaders.Atlantic WireThe Virginia House of Delegates passed a “personhood” bill conferring the rights of a human being upon an embryo at the moment of fertilization, the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.AP via CBS NewsWashington PostAFP via Raw StoryTwo F-16s intercepted a Cessna carrying 40 pounds of marijuana over Los Angeles after it entered the airspace of Marine One, which was transporting President Barack Obama on a fundraising trip.AFP via Raw StorySix weeks after signing the Shark Conservation Act into law, Obama ate lunch at one of the few California restaurants still serving shark-fin soup. The president “ordered a lot of dim sum takeout,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “No soup.”San Francisco ChronicleAFPAn ESPN employee was fired after posting the headline “Chink in the Armor” for an article about the end of a New York Knicks winning streak led by Taiwanese-American point guard Jeremy Lin.ESPNDeadspinGame theorists in Switzerland determined that prejudice is a sound, if error-prone, strategy for short-term interactions in high-migration populations, and Canadian doctors found that the babies of South and East Asian immigrants are often incorrectly deemed underweight.PLoSoneCBC.caThe Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University declared the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, which burned through the latex gloves of the researchers assigned to pick it, to be the hottest pepper on earth. “There will be a run on seeds and plants,” predicted grower Jim Duffy. “Like Cabbage Patch dolls right before Christmas.”AP via NOLA.com

Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter died at 57 of brain cancer, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Shadid died at 43 following an asthma attack while reporting in Syria, and adventurer John Fairfax, who lived as a trapper in the Argentine jungle as a teenager and as a pirate-ship captain in his twenties, and who crossed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in a rowboat, died at 74.NY TimesNY TimesNY TimesA man reportedly suffered a heart attack while eating a Triple Bypass burger at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas.Fox 5 VegasLas Vegas Review-JournalA Scottish musician was bitten in the testicle by a venomous tiger snake while urinating in a Tasmanian garden.Sun (U.K.)Calcutta prepared to be painted blue.BBCGerman academics voted “shitstorm” the most useful English loanword in the German language, a BBC weatherman forecasted “bucket loads of cunt” for central and eastern England, and a British Airways flight attendant was arrested for writing “The bomb on board will explode at 16.00 GMT unless our demands are met” on a bathroom door during a flight from Tokyo to London.Global PostDaily MailTelegraphJournalists documented the rise of rabbit-petting cafĂ©s in Tokyo and the spread of decaf “babyccino” coffees from Australia to Brooklyn. “My child has been going to cafĂ©s since he was a newborn,” said one Brooklyn mother. Babyccinos, said the Australian inventor of the instant babyccino, “interrupt workflow, create milk wastage, and can be served at a dangerous temperature to a vulnerable consumer.”Japan TimesBrooklyn Paper

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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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