Weekly Review — March 30, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism official who has criticized the Bush Administration for its poor efforts at fighting terrorism and its misguided invasion of Iraq, appeared before the commission investigating September 11 and apologized for the government’s and his own failure to prevent the attacks. President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice have all refused to testify publicly before the commission.ReutersBush Administration operatives were working very hard to discredit Clarke, and Condoleezza Rice agreed to speak with the 9/11 panel once again but not publicly and not under oath.ReutersRice did appear publicly on 60 Minutes and confirmed Clarke’s claim, originally denied by the White House, that on September 12, 2001, President Bush ordered Clarke to focus on possible Iraqi involvement in the 9/11 attacks, which the CIA had already concluded were carried out by Al Qaeda.New York TimesDefense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, speaking of Pakistan’snuclear-weapons trafficking, said, “I do not believe that there’s any evidence or any suggestion that President Musharraf was involved.” Musharraf, for his part, denied that he had made a deal with the Americans to crack down on Al Qaeda in return for lenient treatment for selling nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya, Iran, and others; he also denied that his country’s proliferation had done much harm. “If I hand over a missile or a bomb to any extremist, believe me, he can do nothing about it,” Musharraf said. “He cannot explode it.”ReutersIndia defeated Pakistan in a cricket tournament.ReutersUkraine’s minister of defense announced that quite a few missiles that were supposed to have been decommissioned after the fall of the Soviet Union were in fact lost. “Unfortunately strange things happen,” he said. “We are currently looking for several hundred missiles.”BBCThe Transportation Security Administration searched an American Airlines flight to Dallas after a psychic called in a warning that a bomb might be aboard the plane.Associated PressPeople all over the world were astonished when President Bush, during a speech, showed a slide of himself looking under his desk and then joked: “Those weapons of mass destruction got to be here somewhere.”Herald SunGeneticists suggested that a mutation that weakened the jaw muscles of early humans 2.4 million years ago might have enabled the skull to grow larger to provide more space for the brain.ReutersVampire bats attacked 20 people in Mansiche, Peru.Herald Sun

Forty-nine retired U.S. generals and admirals signed a letter begging President Bush to delay spending billions of dollars on his untested and unnecessary missile defense shield and to spend the money instead to protect likely targets of terrorism such as U.S. ports and nuclear-weapons depots.ReutersThe Caribbean Community refused to recognize the new U.S.-backed government in Haiti because of questions about the circumstances under which Jean-Bertrand Aristide left office; the 15-nation group called for the United Nations to investigate Aristide’s charges that he was abducted by the United States and forced to leave Haiti.Associated PressGrand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani warned the United Nations not to endorse the interim Iraqi constitution; the ayatollahNew York Timeswas also said to be considering a fatwa declaring the new government illegitimate and condemning all Iraqis who take part in it.New York TimesPoor people in Venezuela were said to be eatingflamingos.CNNPolitical violence continued in Kosovo, Gaza,New York TimesIvory Coast,New York TimesIraq, Sudan, Pakistan, Taiwan, Afghanistan,New York TimesThailand, andNew York TimesSyria;New York Timesthere was unrest in Haiti, where armed gangs continued to terrorize the people;New York Timesin Congo, where the government put down a coup attempt;Guardianand in France, where firefighters battled police during a strike over retirement benefits. The firefighters threw garbage cans, firecrackers, and smoke bombs; the police fired tear gas.New York TimesIsrael’s state prosecutor recommended that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon be indicted for taking bribes from a real-estate developer and submitted a draft indictment to the attorney general.ReutersPolice no longer need search warrants in Louisiana, an appeals court said, though the judgment was supposedly limited to “brief searches”; two dissenting judges denounced the ruling as the “road to Hell.”New Orleans ChannelAn elementary school in Oklahoma City suspended 125 of its 136 sixth graders for raising hell during lunch.New York Times

British researchers found that strange murders have increased in recent decades and that, contrary to expectations, the murders are not being committed by crazy people; most strange homicides, it was discovered, are committed by young men on drugs.British Medical JournalIt was found that health-carelobbyists spent $237 million lobbying Congress in 2000, more than every other industry combined; drug companies spent $96 million, quite a bit more than other medical sectors.Case Western Reserve UniversityThe European Union fined Microsoft $613 million for abusing its “near monopoly” on personal computers.Washington PostAstrophysicists suggested that a highway of dark matter ripped from the dwarf galaxy Sagittarius, which is being consumed by the Milky Way, is streaming right through Earth.Science DailyA lamb was born in Hebron with “Allah” spelled out in Arabic on its flank; the lamb’s owner said the animal was born on the day Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was assassinated. Some people claimed they could see the word “Muhammad” spelled out on the lamb’s other side.BBCPeople in Angola were beating and torturing their own children because they believe them to be sorcerers.Chicago TribuneFederal regulators issued a warning that antidepressant medication can drive some patients to suicide, and theNew York TimesArmy confirmed that the suicide rate has been higher among soldiers stationed in Iraq.New York TimesThe FDA approved a quick saliva test for HIV, and researchersNew York Timesannounced that circumcised men are six to eight times less likely to contract the virus.ReutersThe Senate passed a bill making it a crime to harm a fetus while committing a violent crime.Associated PressA new study found that buckyballs can cause brain damage in fish, and sexAmerican Chemical Societyresearchers found that impotent men for whom Viagra failed to work were severely distressed.British Medical JournalBenton County, Oregon, decided to stop issuing marriage licenses to heterosexuals.New York Times

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In a Walmart parking lot in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 2015, a white police officer named Stephen Rankin shot and killed an unarmed, eighteen-­year-­old black man named William Chapman. “This is my second one,” he told a bystander seconds after firing the fatal shots, seemingly in reference to an incident four years earlier, when he had shot and killed another unarmed man, an immigrant from Kazakhstan. Rankin, a Navy veteran, had been arresting Chapman for shoplifting when, he claimed, Chapman charged him in a manner so threatening that he feared for his life, leaving him no option but to shoot to kill—­the standard and almost invariably successful defense for officers when called to account for shooting civilians. Rankin had faced no charges for his earlier killing, but this time, something unexpected happened: Rankin was indicted on a charge of first-­degree murder by Portsmouth’s newly elected chief prosecutor, thirty-­one-year-­old Stephanie Morales. Furthermore, she announced that she would try the case herself, the first time she had ever prosecuted a homicide. “No one could remember us having an actual prosecution for the killing of an unarmed person by the police,” Morales told me. “I got a lot of feedback, a lot of people saying, ‘You shouldn’t try this case. If you don’t win, it may affect your reelection. Let someone else do it.’ ”

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About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

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I was in Midtown, sitting by a dry fountain, making a list of all the men I’d slept with since my last checkup—doctor’s orders. Afterward, I would head downtown and wait for Quimby at the bar, where there were only alcoholics and the graveyard shift this early. I’d just left the United Nations after a Friday morning session—likely my last. The agenda had included resolutions about a worldwide ban on plastic bags, condemnation of a Slobodan Miloševic statue, sanctions on Israel, and a truth and reconciliation commission in El Salvador. Except for the proclamation opposing the war criminal’s marble replica, everything was thwarted by the United States and a small contingent of its allies. None of this should have surprised me. Some version of these outcomes had been repeating weekly since World War II.

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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.

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