Weekly Review — January 27, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Silver-Spangled Hamburgs, 1890]

David Kay, the outgoing head of the Iraq Survey Group, said that Iraq got rid of its illegal weapons programs years before the United States invaded. New York TimesKay made it clear that the United Nations weapons-inspection process had succeeded in disarming Iraq and said the Iraqis had been reduced to experimenting with ricin, a primitive but deadly poison easily made from fermented castor beans; Kay also said that the CIA had completely misread the situation in Iraq, largely because the agency had no on-the-ground spies after the U.N. inspectors were removed.New York TimesMore than 100,000 Iraqis filled the streets of Baghdad in a march supporting the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in his demand for direct elections;Seattle Timesthousands also marched in Basra, Najaf, and Kerbala demanding that Saddam Hussein be turned over to the Iraqi people to stand trial.ReutersSkepticism was growing that the United States will succeed in handing power over to an Iraqi client regime before the presidential election, and the head of the occupying authority’s Tribal Affairs Bureau admitted that he had been relying on a 1918British report in his attempts to make sense of local politics.New York TimesPresident George W. Bush made his State of the Union address just one day after the Iowa caucuses and appealed to voters to reelect him so that he could continue to wage war on terror.Associated PressArchbishop Desmond Tutu called on the United States and its allies to confess that the conquest of Iraq was wrong.TelegraphVice President Dick Cheney defended Halliburton, which continues to pay him a salary, from what he said were “desperate attacks” by opponents of the Bush Administration. “They’re rendering great service,” he said. “They do it because they’re good at it, because they won the contract to do it. And frankly the company takes a certain amount of pride in rendering this kind of service to U.S. military forces.”CNNHalliburton, which received most of its Iraq contracts by administrative fiat rather than through a competitive bidding process, admitted that its employees in Iraq have accepted $6.3 million in kickbacks.CNNPeople at the Conservative Political Action Conference were grumbling that President Bush’s fiscal policies, which have led to giant budget deficits, have been anything but conservative; they alsoNew York Timesdenounced the USA Patriot Act and complained that “big-government Republicans,” who seem to think government is the solution rather than the problem, have been too busy “baby-sitting the nanny state.”New York Times

Republican staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were still under investigation for improperly infiltratingDemocratic computers and reading strategy memos, which were then leaked to the press. Several computers, including a server from Senator Bill Frist’s office, have been confiscated by the Senate’s Sergeant-at-Arms.Boston GlobeAn expert panel that was asked to review a Pentagon-funded Internet voting system declared that the system was fundamentally flawed. “Using a voting system based on the Internet,” said one of the experts, “poses a serious and unacceptable risk for election fraud.” The Pentagon nonetheless said that it “stands by” the program, which will be used in several primaries this year. “We feel it’s right on,” said a spokesman, “and we’re going to use it.”New York TimesNewly released documents revealed that the U.S. Census Bureau gave information on millions of Americans to NASA for a study on the feasibility of mining such data to look for potential terrorists, and itWashington Timeswas reported that American intelligence officials have compiled a list of five million potential terrorists worldwide.Toronto SunPresident Pervez Musharraf admitted that some of Pakistan’s top nuclear scientists had sold nuclear technology to other countries but denied that the government was involved; Musharraf was accused of scapegoating the scientists to appease the United States.Christian Science MonitorArt Garfunkel got busted with pot.Associated PressRussian soldiers rescued 10 tons of beer kegs that became trapped under the ice of a frozen Siberian river; after divers from the Ministry of Emergency Situations failed to dislodge the kegs, a T-72 tank saved the day.New York TimesSenator John Kerry won the Iowa caucuses.ReutersHoward Dean decided to tone down his campaign persona after the media became alarmed at his “nutty” Iowa concession speech.New York TimesThere was speculation that Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon might soon be indicted for taking bribes.New York TimesA Mexican man reportedly hacked open his father’s head with a machete, drank his blood, and then ate his brains.Agence France-Presse

The European Mars Express mission made the first direct measurement of ice on Mars; aNew Scientistsecond American Mars rover, called Opportunity, landed on the planet; and newNew York Timesresearch suggested that astronauts sent to Mars might be paralyzed by the prolonged lack of gravity.Globe and MailScientists found that the Ebola virus can spread from dead animals such as gorillas to human beings, and genetic analysis suggested that the five recent outbreaks of the disease were caused by five distinct strains of the virus, which is among the most contagious known, rather than one strain that had mutated. “If Ebola is popping up randomly,” said one scientist, “then things are pretty hopeless.”Nature.comAvian influenza was spreading across Asia; the World Health Organization said it was the largest outbreak in history.New ScientistIndonesia said that millions of chickens had died of the flu in recent weeks, and workers in Thailand were bagging live chickens and burying them in pits.New York TimesIndonesia’s agriculture minister said that his government can’t afford to dispose of the dead chickens.Laksamana.netWomen who have used dark hair dye for at least 24 years have a greater chance of developing cancer, a study found, andReutersfrequent underarm shaving together with deodorant use could increase the risk of breast cancer.New ScientistSaudi Arabia’s highest-ranking cleric said that women’s rights are anti-Islamic, and anNew York TimesAmerican diplomat in London declared that referring to the American Jewish lobby is anti-Semitic.IndependentThe Salvation Army received a $1.5 billion donation, and anNew York TimesIndian diamond seller who had hidden $900 worth of small diamonds in a pile of hay was busy feeding laxatives to his cow.ReutersThere were new massacres in Congo,ReutersRwanda’s former minister for higher education was given a life sentence for genocide, and aAl-Jazeerasniper was still shooting cars in Ohio.Associated PressCaptain Kangaroo died.Washington PostBritain’s naked rambler completed his 900-mile journey and put on some clothes.GuardianA Japanese scientist created a belly-dancing robot.Nature.com

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“You’re being reborn,” the voice says. “Exiting the womb of your mother. Coming into the earth as a small baby. Everything is new.” It is a Saturday morning in mid-March, and right now I’m lying on a yoga mat in a lodge in Ohio, surrounded by fifty other men who’ve come to the Midwest for a weekend of manhood-confirming adventures. The voice in question belongs to Aaron Blaine, a facilitator for Evryman, the men’s group orchestrating this three-day retreat. All around me, men are shedding tears as Blaine leads us on a guided meditation, a kind of archetypal montage of Norman Rockwell boyhood. “You’re starting to figure things out,” he says, in somniferous baritone. “Snow, for the first time. Sunshine. Start to notice the smells, the tastes, the confusion. The fear. And you’re growing. You’re about ten years old. The world’s huge and scary.”

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The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding the postwar boom. Those sockless people in Top-Siders, whose ancestors’ names and portraits adorned the walls, were entirely new to me. I made friends with some, but I was not free of a corrosive envy of their habitus of ease and entitlement.

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Last May, the families of students at Cypress Academy, an independent charter school in New Orleans, received an email announcing that the school would close when classes ended the following week and that all its students would be transferred to another nearby charter for the upcoming year. Parents would have the option of entering their children in the city’s charter-enrollment lottery, but the lottery’s first round had already taken place, and the most desirable spots for the fall were filled.

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how high? that high

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At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

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