Weekly Review — July 23, 2012, 10:27 pm

Weekly Review

saluting_the_town_350x278 In Aurora, Colorado, a man wearing a gas mask and other tactical gear entered a midnight screening of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, set off a tear-gas canister, and fired hundreds of bullets at the audience, killing 12 people and injuring more than 50. The suspected shooter, 24-year-old former neuroscience Ph.D. candidate James Eagan Holmes, was believed to have posted a profile on the website Adult Friend Finder in which he described himself as a “nice guy.” “Well,” he wrote, “as nice enough of a guy who does these sort of shenanigans.” Holmes reportedly had with him at the theater a shotgun, two semi-automatic pistols, and a semi-automatic rifle outfitted with a high-capacity ammunition clip, all loaded from a 6,350-bullet stockpile he had purchased online. After he was apprehended in the parking lot, Holmes identified himself as the Joker and directed police to his apartment, which had been booby-trapped with trip wires, chemicals, and improvised grenades, and where techno music may have been rigged to play while the shooting was taking place. “Make no mistake,” said Aurora’s police chief, “this apartment was designed . . . to kill.”[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] Insurgents launched at least 40 simultaneous attacks in 15 cities across Iraq, detonating car bombs and storming marketplaces, government offices, and military and law-enforcement targets. At least 106 people were killed in one day, making it the deadliest in Iraq in over two years.[10][11] Syrian rebels bombed a crisis meeting at the National Security headquarters in Damascus, killing the country’s national-security chief, defense minister, and deputy defense minister, who is also the brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad. Obama Administration officials said the United States would “accelerate” the strengthening of groups seeking to overthrow Assad, and a Syrian foreign-ministry spokesman said his country would use its chemical and biological weapons only against foreign aggression. “If they exist,” he later added.[12][13][14][15][16]

Mitt Romney insisted he would not make public the income-tax returns he filed for years prior to 2010. “You know, you should really look at where Mitt has led his life and where he’s been financially,” said his wife, Ann, in a TV interview. “He’s a very generous person.”[17][18][19] The American Saddlebred Museum in Lexington, Kentucky, put up for auction Chevaux, a signed painting by a nine-year-old Friesian horse named Justin.[20][21] In an interview with the Hoover Institute, George W. Bush explained his decision to retire from politics. “Eight years was awesome and I was famous and I was powerful,” he said. “But . . . I crawled out of the swamp and I’m not crawling back in.”[22] The town council of Royston, England, voted unanimously to begin culling local pigeons, which have been coating the town in excrement, rather than feeding them contraceptives or using fire gel to fool them into believing their roosts were ablaze. “There is an advantage to this method,” said a retired councilor. “Shot pigeons give us a food source.”[23] A bobcat broke into a Washington State prison.[24] A teenaged bear roamed from a Walmart to a J.C. Penney to a Sears store at a mall in Pittsburgh.[25] Kent Couch and Fareed Lafta abandoned a tandem flight from Oregon to Montana in lawn chairs lofted by helium-filled party balloons when a thunderstorm forced them to make an emergency crash landing. The pair—who met after Lafta sent Couch, a longtime lawn-chair balloonist, a letter saying he hoped to fulfill a childhood dream inspired by the 1980s cartoon show Care Bears—said they were training for a joint flight over Iraq to cheer orphans. “I made a commitment to Fareed and the orphans of Iraq,” said Couch. “Otherwise I’m on the ground for good.”[26]

Microsoft, which posted a quarterly loss for the first time ever, apologized for including the code “B16B00B5” (BIGBOOBS) in one of its programs.[27][28] The manager of the Damson Dene hotel in Crosthwaite, England, replaced his rooms’ bedside Gideon bibles with copies of the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. “The Bible remains a source of comfort and inspiration that many people do find helpful,” said local vicar Michael Woodcock.[29] Medieval bras discovered in an Austrian castle were described as a “missing link” in the history of women’s undergarments.[30] Coastal waters near Cape Lookout and Florence, Oregon, were found to be unusually caffeinated.[31] Sewing needles were discovered in turkey sandwiches served to passengers on four Delta flights from Amsterdam.[32] A blind Native American man sued a hospital in South Dakota for leaving him with surgical scars spelling out “KKK” on his abdomen.[33] As Ramadan began, Muslim Olympians debated whether to continue their fasts during the 2012 Games. “I can do it after Ramadan and Allah will accept it because there was an important reason,” said an Egyptian kayaker.[34] Representatives from the gay-hookup app Grindr denied that the influx of Olympic athletes was responsible for a system crash affecting users in East London. “We’d love to believe,” said a spokesperson, “that the best-built men in the world all dressed up in Lycra and congregating in one place can generate a huge increase in Grindr traffic.”[35][36]

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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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