Weekly Review — March 5, 2012, 7:15 pm

Weekly Review

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Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won the Arizona and Michigan Republican primaries, as well as the Washington State Republican caucus. Newt Gingrich, who placed last in Michigan and Washington, said that Romney was not a “convincing” front-runner and that the campaign for the G.O.P. nomination would “go on for a good while.”[1][2] President Barack Obama’s approval rating rose above 50 percent for the first time in nearly a year, and Senator Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) accused Obama of disregarding blue-collar workers in his energy policy. “President Obama has traded in the hard-hat and lunch-bucket category of the Democratic Party,” said Hatch, “for a hipster fedora and a double-skim latte.”[3][4] The American Mustache Institute criticized Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R., Md.) for the “shameful reversal” of his support for a $250 tax credit for mustachioed Americans, and Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, presenting a literacy initiative to Denver elementary-school students, botched his introduction of Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia. “Now I get to introduce that rising sex star,” Hickenlooper said of Garcia. “Symbol. I mean symbol. Not star.”[5][6] Rush Limbaugh apologized for describing Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she spoke in favor of health-care provisions for free contraceptives at a Democratic Party steering-committee hearing.[7][8] Senator Olympia Snowe (R., Maine) announced that she would not seek re-election this fall, citing a lack of bipartisan cooperation in Congress. “Simply put,” Snowe wrote in an editorial, “the Senate is not living up to what the Founding Fathers envisioned.”[9][10]

President Obama affirmed his commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. “When the chips are down,” he said “I have Israel’s back.”[11] North Korea permitted the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the country’s largest nuclear reactor in exchange for a quarter million tons of U.S. food aid.[12] After the United States posted more than $5 million in bail, Egyptian officials lifted a travel ban imposed on seven Americans charged with operating unlicensed NGOs, leading the country’s parliament to open a probe. “We cannot accept any type of foreign intervention in Egypt’s affairs,” said house speaker Saad al-Katatni. The same day, the U.S. State Department publicly endorsed Egypt’s efforts to secure a $3.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.[13][14] Al Qaeda gunmen killed 25 Iraqi policemen in Haditha, and 140 people died in clashes following an Al Qaeda attack on army bases in southern Yemen.[15][16] More than 200 Congolese died and at least 1,500 were wounded following a series of explosions at a munitions depot in Brazzaville.[17] Vladimir Putin was elected president of Russia for the third time, thousands of opposition protesters rallied outside the Kremlin amid reports by international observers that the election was unfair, and a Moscow museum began staging a puppet show in which Putin comes to terms with the loss of his penis.[18][19][20][21] Researchers determined that sperm cells lack a sense of smell, that American immigrants who speak English are healthier than those who do not, that the wealthy are more likely to take candy from children, and that Ötzi the Iceman was lactose intolerant.[22][23][24][25] A section of the Great Wall of China was discovered in Mongolia.[26]

Jan Berenstain, who co-wrote and co-illustrated the Berenstain Bears books, died, as did 43-year-old conservative media entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart, who helped popularize the Drudge Report and was, on his own websites, the first to break such stories as the Anthony Weiner Twitter scandal. “RIP 'O Mighty Warrior!” tweeted Texas governor Rick Perry.[27][28] A suspicious item that caused Disneyland to be locked down was found to be a scroll bearing a “spiritual message of goodwill,” and two Georgia schools were locked down after a student’s cell phone autocorrected the word “gunna” to “gunman,” resulting in the text message “Gunman be at West Hall Today.”[29][30] In Texas, a group of Girl Scouts robbed of their cookie-sale proceeds traded blows with the male thieves as they tried to get away. “I hope your face hurts from when Iravia punched you, jerk,” said scout Rachel Johnson in an interview.[31] Whitney Purvis, who was profiled on the reality-television series 16 and Pregnant, was arrested in Georgia for attempting to steal a pregnancy test from Walmart.[32] A carpenter was arrested in Zimbabwe for speculating that President Robert Mugabe may not himself have inflated all the balloons at his eighty-eighth birthday party.[33] Montana district judge Richard Cebull admitted he was wrong to send an email insinuating that President Obama was born of an affair between his mother and a dog, the Pentagon disclosed that some remains of 9/11 victims ended up in a Delaware landfill, and Groupon withdrew a discount deal for a walking tour of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s stalking grounds in Milwaukee. “Guides march guests through the grisly corridors of Jeffrey Dahmer’s life and killing spree as they narrate the triggers of his psychosis and the heinous crimes he committed,” read the description of the tour, which 15 people had signed up for. “We’re providing information, much like if you would pick up a book or watch a documentary,” said organizer Amanda Morden. “It’s just in a different format than I guess people are used to.”[34][35][36][37]

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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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