Weekly Review — April 30, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

A Bangladeshi building collapses, George W. Bush’s presidential library opens, and koala chlamydia ravages Australia

Babylonian LionIn Savar, Bangladesh, the eight-story Rana Plaza building collapsed, killing at least 381 of an estimated 3,000 workers, most of them young women, and leaving hundreds more missing. One day earlier, police had ordered the evacuation of the building, which houses five factories that make clothing for Western markets, because of cracks discovered in its foundation, but at least one manager told his employees they could work nevertheless. “We want to live, brother,” said one trapped survivor to rescue workers. “It’s hard to remain alive here. It would have been better to die than endure such pain.” Two women who gave birth in the rubble were rescued along with their newborns; several thousand protesters vandalized cars and set fire to furniture from a police control room; and the building’s owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, was apprehended near the Indian border by Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion. “People are asking for his head,” said an adviser to the prime minister, “which is quite natural.”[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] A psychiatric hospital outside Moscow caught fire, killing 38 patients, most of whom were found still in their beds. “The first car arrived without water,” said a local resident of the responding fire trucks. “Then another came — also empty. It was only the third car that had water.”[10][11] U.S. defense officials claimed that soil samples collected in the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Homs had tested positive for sarin, a nerve agent, the use of which the White House has described as a “red line” that would provoke an armed response from the United States. “Their aim,” said Syria’s minister of information, is to provide “maps, photos of rockets, and other fabricated materials to the UN, which, as we know, opened the way to the occupation of Iraq.”[12][13][14]

World leaders gathered on the campus of Southern Methodist University for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. “I paint two or three hours a day,” Bush said of life as a retiree. “Painting has changed my life in an unbelievably positive way.” The former president explained to Charlie Rose how he would paint the interviewer’s tie. “A little permanent rose, and a touch of white,” he said. “A little raw umber to darken it up.” In Little Rock, the staff at Bill Clinton’s presidential library worried that Clinton would call for extensive upgrades after seeing the multimedia technology at the Bush library. “Everybody is bracing,” said a former Clinton aide, “for when he comes back from Dallas.”[15][16][17][18] The White House released a video in which Obama pretended to be Daniel Day-Lewis rehearsing the title role of an imagined Steven Spielberg movie called Obama. “If I were him, I’d be mad all the time. But I’m not him,” said the real Obama of the character Obama. “I’m Daniel Day-Lewis.”[19] After exonerating an Elvis impersonator of mailing ricin to Obama, the FBI arrested the man’s martial-arts rival, a tae kwon do instructor from Tupelo, Mississippi.[20][21] The Dow Jones momentarily dropped 140 points on Tuesday after hackers tweeting as the Associated Press reported that Obama had been injured in explosions at the White House. “How 12 words on a hacked Twitter account sent stocks tumbling in seconds,” the AP tweeted the following day.[22][23] NASA’s Curiosity rover left tracks resembling an erect penis on the surface of Mars, and searches for the resulting photographs crashed the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website.[24][25] George Jones, the country singer whose 1987 single “The Right Left Hand” was credited by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with persuading his second wife’s mother to condone their marriage, died in Nashville at 81.[26][27]

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In Germany, Margot Woelk revealed herself to have been one of the 15 food tasters employed by Hitler in his Eastern Front military headquarters, known as the Wolf’s Lair. “The food was delicious,” she said. “And always with a side of rice or pasta.”[28] Following a contest in which 52 bakers were disqualified on grounds of length and weight, a Tunisian man was named the best baguette maker in Paris and awarded the job of official baker to President François Hollande.[29] In Stockholm, young women were being approached outside an eating-disorder clinic by model-agency talent scouts, and a high school instituted a gender-neutral locker room.[30][31] Washington Wizards center Jason Collins became the first openly gay player of a major North American team sport, France’s National Assembly decided by a vote of 331–225 to legalize gay marriage, and German parents expressed concern about the explicitness of the sexual-education book Wo kommst du her? (“Where Do You Come From?”). “When it’s so good that it can’t get any better,” the book explains, “Lisa and Lars have an orgasm.”[32][33][34] Hyundai retracted a TV advertisement by the firm Innocean in which a man trying to kill himself with car exhaust is foiled by the ix35 model’s “100% water emissions.”[35] Off the coast of the Australian town of Nhulunbuy, an eight-foot crocodile caught a French swimmer’s head in its mouth but let go after the man repeatedly punched it.[36] On the Australian mainland, where koala chlamydia was causing a spike in the number of orphaned joeys, the captain of the Commerce-Pints Hockey Club was bitten by a poisonous king brown snake that he mistook for a nonvenomous python, then ran 1.2 miles and died. “[The] run,” said a paramedic, “pumped the venom around his system much faster.”[37][38]


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Zoologists speculated that cannibalism among hippos might have led to an anthrax outbreak in Uganda that has killed at least 220 of the beasts. “I knew hippos were nasty,” said one anthrax expert, “but I didn’t know they went around eating each other.”

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