Weekly Review — May 15, 2012, 12:13 am

Weekly Review

eye_350x382 One day after North Carolina approved a state-constitution amendment banning same-sex marriages, and three days after Vice President Joe Biden claimed he was “absolutely comfortable” with gay marriage, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to announce that he believes gay couples should be able to wed. During an interview on ABC News, the president, who has long described his views on same-sex marriage as “evolving,” said he had “concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” He added that a progressive stance on marriage equity was important for reaching younger voters. “They are much more comfortable with it,” he said.[1][2][3] Newsweek declared Obama the first gay president, Betty White endorsed Obama’s reelection bid, and George Clooney hosted a $40,000-a-seat celebrity fundraiser for the campaign on his personal basketball court. “We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George,” said the president. “They like me; they love him. And rightfully so.”[4][5][6] A crowd of 34,000 at evangelical Liberty University cheered presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney when he reiterated his definition of marriage as “a relationship between one man and one woman.” “There is no greater force for good in the nation,” Romney told the audience, “than Christian conscience in action.”[7][8] High school friends of Romney’s recalled a 1965 incident in which they attacked a boy they presumed to be gay and held him down while Romney cut his hair. “It was a hack job,” said one witness.[9][10] Vidal Sassoon, inventor of the five-point cut and the Kwan bob, died at 84; children’s-book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak died at 83; an autopsy revealed that “Painter of Light” Thomas Kinkade died of an alcohol and Valium overdose; and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said he was “dead wrong” last month when he dismissed concerns about trading by his bank, which disclosed a loss of $2 billion in botched trades over the past six weeks, as a “tempest in a teapot.” “We made a terrible, egregious mistake,” Dimon said. ‘‘There’s almost no excuse for it.”[11][12][13][14][15]

Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson stepped down in response to allegations that his official biography included a degree in computer science that he never earned.[16] Details emerged about a recently canceled course at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, called “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism,” in which the instructor, Army Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dooley, advocated “a direct ideological and philosophical confrontation with Islam” and outlined a plan in which the Geneva Conventions were “no longer relevant” and the United States took war to “a civilian population wherever necessary.” “They hate everything you stand for,” said Dooley during one presentation, “and will never coexist with you, unless you submit.”[17][18] An 18-month-old and her parents were pulled off a JetBlue flight when the child was mistakenly identified as being on the U.S. government’s no-fly list, and it was reported that an agent working for Saudi Arabian intelligence and the CIA had thwarted a planned Al Qaeda bomb attack on a U.S. airliner by infiltrating a Yemeni Al Qaeda cell, volunteering for the suicide mission, and giving U.S. officials the bomb, which had been sewn into “custom fit” underwear that would make it difficult to detect during a pat-down.[19][20] A court-security officer at the arraignment of the five Guantánamo prisoners accused of planning the 9/11 attacks censored the phrase “big-boy pants” from the audio feed heard by spectators, and authorities in Martin County, Florida, were searching for a man who walked out of a grocery store with $56 worth of flounder and rock shrimp in his shorts.[21][22] Iraqi festival-goers complained after officials revived an annual cultural festival in Babylon but replaced the lavish music and dance performances of the Saddam Hussein era with poetry readings and educational activities. “Ordinary people like me tried to seek joy and happiness in the festival activities, but we found only artists and intellectuals,” said one attendee. “It’s a total failure.”[23]

The U.S. Government Accountability Office found that a study it had conducted on the efficacy of a study evaluating the cost to the Pentagon of producing studies was “not fully consistent” with “best practices.”[24] A Chicago man named Michael Younger broke into a Family Dollar store with a Bobcat front loader stolen from the construction site of a community center for young mothers, and the rate of international adoption in the United States was reported to have plummeted due to a global crackdown on the sale of babies.[25][26] The English town of Sandwich celebrated the 250th anniversary of the Fourth Earl of Sandwich’s request that his meat be wrapped in bread so he could eat it while playing cards. “He’s First Lord of the Admiralty three times,” said a Sandwich Celebration Festival organizer, “but he was a bit of a lad.”[27] The British Cheese Board asked songwriters to compose a national cheddar anthem, and parents complained after chocolates shaped like penises, breasts, and copulating couples were distributed at a Mother’s Day event at a primary school in Woodberry, Australia. “My nine-year-old grandson gave this ziplock bag to me,” reported one attendee, “and said to me, ‘You’ve got a willy in there Nanny.’”[28][29]

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“One of the peculiar things about economic inequality is that the people who are most articulate about it are not poor, while the poor themselves have said little, at least in print, about their situation.”
Photograph © Reuters/Brendan McDermid
“It would be nice to get through this review without recourse to the term ‘writer’s writer.’ The thing is, in the case of Joy Williams, I have seen the cliché made flesh.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
“Miniatures originated in Persia and were brought to the Indian subcontinent when the Mughals conquered it in the sixteenth century. They could take on almost any subject: landscapes or portraits; stories of love, war, or play.”
Painting by by Imran Qureshi.
“The business of being a country veterinarian is increasingly precarious. The heartland has been emptying of large-animal vets for at least two decades, as agribusiness changed the employment picture and people left the region.”
Photograph by Lance Rosenfield
“Rosie and her husband had burned through their small savings in the first few months after she lost her job. Now their family of five relied on his minimum-wage paychecks, plus Rosie’s unemployment and food stamps, which, combined, brought them to around $2,000 per month, just above the poverty line.”
Illustrations by Taylor Callery

Average amount an American earning at least $250,000 would pay to find “true love”:


A mother hen’s screeching was found to wake chicks unhatched in their eggs.

In New Jersey, an eight-year-old girl was suspended for violating her school’s dress code by wearing a shirt that was the wrong shade of green.

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Subways Are for Sleeping


“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

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