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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a preliminary finding that virtually every American living in the United States since 1951 has been exposed to nuclear fallout: “All organs and tissues of the body have received some radiation exposure,” the report said. The fallout, which resulted from both American and Soviet tests, could be responsible for more than 11,000 cancer deaths. The Texas veterinarian who first isolated the Ames strain of anthrax was fighting $9,000 in fines for burning the carcasses of anthrax-infected cattle, in violation of Texas air pollution rules. At the time of the offense, Texas preferred that the anthrax be buried in a landfill, leaving open the possibility that the bacteria could be harvested by terrorists. The F.B.I. claimed to have a “short list” of suspects in last year’s anthrax attacks. President Bush approved plans to send troops to Yemen as anti-terrorism advisers. The sheriff of Flathead County, Montana, described a foiled plot by a right-wing militia to assassinate local authorities, including the dog catcher; the killings would have resulted, according to the plan, in the deployment of National Guard troops, whose deaths were to have sparked a revolution. After Afghan prisoners at Guantánamo Naval Base, protesting the removal of a towel from the head of a praying prisoner, refused to eat, military authorities decided to let them wear turbans during prayer. Colombian rebels went on a killing spree, and Colombia’s military, as part of a public-relations campaign, deployed a ten-foot inflatable soldier as a mascot near Bogotá. Secret Service agents accidentally left a security plan for Vice President Dick Cheney on the counter of a skateboard store in Salt Lake City; the agents had purchased nine Olympic hats as souvenirs. White House speechwriter David Frum, whose wife circulated an email recently boasting that her husband had coined the phrase “axis of evil,” resigned; Frum now claims that he wrote “axis of hate” and that someone, possibly the President, replaced hate with evil.

Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters that he approved of President Bush’saxis of evil” doctrine. “In my judgment,” he said, “any country right now that has a despotic leadership, that is unrepresentative of its people, that is not putting in place market economic systems, that is rife with corruption, a lack of transparency and no rule of law, that thinks it can achieve a position on the world stage through development of weapons of mass destruction that will turn out to be fool’s gold for them, is a loser.” Palestinians and Israelis continued to butcher one another: children and pregnant women figured prominently among the casualties. A Muslim mob set a train on fire that was carrying Hindu pilgrims, killing 58, mostly women and children. The next day, Hindu mobs ran amok and killed more than 60 Muslims, burning several families alive in their homes. By the end of the week, about 400 people were dead. Controversy was raging in Michigan over plans by the founder of Domino’s Pizza to nail a 40-foot Jesus to a 250-foot crucifix in a suburb of Ann Arbor. An appeals court threw out the conviction of a former New York cop for helping to stick a broken plunger up the rectum of Abner Louima in 1997; two other convictions, for obstructing justice, were also overturned. The case against Justin Volpe, the ringleader, who pleaded guilty, was left intact.

Catholic pedophilia scandals were popping up all over Christendom. In Brazil, dengue fever was spreading throughout the state of Rio de Janeiro. Federal health officials said that half of the almost 1 million Americans infected with HIV are unaware of their condition. A new study of the anatomy of Tyrannosaurus rex found that the dinosaur could not have been very fast; the beast might have reached a top speed of 10 mph in short sprints, if it was able to run at all. Prince Philip of Great Britain asked some Australian aborigines whether they “still throw spears at each other.” President Bush was still trying to privatize Social Security. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer tried to blame the current violence in Israel on the Clinton Administration and then was told by his superiors to take it back. The Rev. Billy Graham apologized for a conversation with President Richard Nixon, which turned up in recently released tapes, in which the two agreed that the Jews’ “stranglehold has got to be broken or this country’s going down the drain.” A lion ate a man in South Africa. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History announced that it was in the market for Enron collectibles and that it had already purchased a copy of the company’s famous code of ethics. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was said to be thinking about selling the Brooklyn Bridge. A Las Vegas man was sentenced to three years in jail for stealing an African spot-nosed guenon monkey and trading it for crack cocaine. Bubba the Love Sponge, a radio announcer in Tampa, Florida, was found not guilty of animal cruelty for having a wild boar killed on his program. The New York Times revealed, in an article about mistranslations of the Koran, that the seventy-two virgins purported to await martyrs in heaven are really “white raisins.”

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November 2008

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