Weekly Review — June 25, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Edward Snowden’s travel itinerary, a Christian ministry’s ex-ex-gay therapy, and the apocalypse gets a golf course.

ALL IN MY EYE.The U.S. Department of Justice charged former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden with espionage and theft of government property for revealing the details of NSA global surveillance programs, and requested Snowden’s extradition from Hong Kong, where he had been in hiding. The government of Hong Kong claimed the request lacked necessary documentation and allowed Snowden to leave the country for Russia. Snowden, who celebrated his 30th birthday with his lawyers in a Hong Kong safe house over a dinner of pizza, fried chicken, sausages, and Pepsi, reportedly had plans to continue from Moscow to Cuba and on to Venezuela or Ecuador. “The freedom trail,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), “is not exactly China–Russia–Cuba–Venezuela.” The Russian government, which claimed not to know of Snowden’s whereabouts, said it did not have a legal responsibility to block his departure. “I am not,” said Dmitri Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, “in charge of tickets.” [1][2][3][4][5][6] Russia’s Emergencies Ministry sent a medically equipped state aircraft to fly Mikhail Kalashnikov, the 93-year-old creator of the AK-47 assault rifle, to Moscow for treatment of a pulmonary embolism, and the South African government admitted that an ambulance carrying 94-year-old former president Nelson Mandela to a Pretoria hospital had broken down, stranding Mandela and his doctors on the highway for 40 minutes. Officials denied that Mandela’s health had been jeopardized by the incident and said he was recovering. The following day South African president Jacob Zuma announced that Mandela had slipped into critical condition, but said his illness would not affect an upcoming meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama. “I don’t think you stop a visit,” said Zuma, “because someone is sick.”[7][8][9][10][11]

Brazilian protests in response to a nine-cent increase in bus fares grew into widespread demonstrations against government corruption, high taxes, and extravagant spending on sports stadiums. “I can live,” chanted protesters, “without the World Cup.”[12] Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, a Christian ministry that claimed it could cure homosexuality, announced the disbanding of the organization. “I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions,” explained Chambers in an apology to the gay community. “Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop.”[13] The Council on American-Islamic Relations requested that a Virginia woman named Jennifer Crabbe, who called 911 to report that her taxi driver was “very Muslim,” be charged with a hate crime, and zoologists theorized that the hairy-chested Hoff crab, named after actor David Hasselhoff, had migrated from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Drake Passage.[14][15] A pet alligator named Gucci visited an Alaskan beach, designers Dolce and Gabbana were each sentenced to a year and eight months in prison for tax evasion, and bovine-bedding specialist Amy Throndsen described the growing popularity of waterbeds for cows. “It takes a lot of trust,” said Throndsen, “to let someone onto your farm to talk to them about your cow comfort issues.”[16][17][18] Porky Hefer, a South African designer who makes high-end nests for humans, was reportedly at work on a Namibian supernest outfitted with a wine cellar, and California company Vivos was constructing an underground doomsday resort in Kansas, with an indoor golf course, a bowling alley, and a swimming pool. “We’re not capitalizing on fears,” said Vivos’s CEO. “We’re resolving them.”[19][20]

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James Vernon McVay, on trial for slitting an elderly South Dakota woman’s throat and stealing her car as part of a plot to assassinate President Obama on a golf course, complained of media misrepresentation. “I’m tired of it being conveyed to the public as if I’m some kind of a monster,” said McVay, who claims to have been under the influence of alcohol, cough syrup, and satanic prayer. “It feels like a joke.” [21] Brian Percy, a paramedic with East of England Ambulance Service, was fired for accusing a patient of faking a seizure. “You again,” Percy had said to the man. “Go and have a fag and a drink.”[22] The solstitial moon reached peak lunar nearness and achieved perigee-syzygy, resulting in an astronomical phenomenon known as a supermoon.[23] James Gandolfini, the actor who played the fictional New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano, died in Italy of a heart attack, and three female judges sentenced former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to seven years in prison for paying for sex with an underage dancer known as “Ruby the Heart-Stealer.”[24][25] Caloundra Christian College in Queensland, Australia, distributed a list of 101 suggested activities for students to enjoy as alternatives to sexual intercourse, including blowing bubbles and playing ball without the ball.[26] In Glastonbury, England, a woman dressed as a vagina attempted to calm a man wearing a penis costume who had gotten into a scuffle with a stranger. “I wasn’t looking for a fight,” said the costumed man, “but he grabbed my hat.” [27]


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Editor's Note

Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.

Because of the present comedy boom, civilians are starting to hear about Doug Stanhope from other comedians like Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK. But Stanhope has been building a devoted fan base for the past two decades, largely by word of mouth. On tour, he prefers the unencumbered arrival and the quick exit: cheap motels where you can pull the van up to the door of the room and park. He’s especially pleased if there’s an on-site bar, which increases the odds of hearing a good story from the sort of person who tends to drink away the afternoon in the depressed cities where he performs. Stanhope’s America isn’t the one still yammering on about its potential or struggling with losing hope. For the most part, hope is gone. On Word of Mouth, his 2002 album, he says, “America may be the best country, but that’s like being the prettiest Denny’s waitress. Just because you’re the best doesn’t make you good.”

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“Bolivia’s gene banks contain far more quinoa varieties than any other country’s, yet the Bolivians are dead set against sharing them.”
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“He explained how sober Doug structured the bits and worked out the material’s logic; drunk Doug found the funny.”
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Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:

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