Weekly Review — June 15, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web.

Evidence continued to emerge that high-level officials in the Bush Administration approved the torture of prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere; althoughThe HillAttorney General John Ashcroft denied that the president authorized the use of torture on suspected terrorists, he refused to give Congress several memorandums by Justice Department lawyers laying out ways that interrogators could evade anti-torture laws.New York TimesSuch documents were being leaked, however; in one report on interrogation methods, administration lawyers argued last year that President Bush is not bound by laws and treaties that ban torture; the report concluded that “in order to respect the president’s inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign . . . (the prohibition against torture) must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority.” The report further argued that the president has the “inherent” authority to set aside laws and that consequently his subordinates could not be prosecuted for violating anti-torture laws.Wall Street Journal“Look, I’m going to say it one more time,” said President Bush when asked at the G-8 Summit whether torture is ever justified; “The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you.”Associated PressIt was reported that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez personally approved the torture of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and that he ordered guards to hide at least one prisoner from the Red Cross.Washington Post, US NewsFormer CIA officials said that the new prime minister of Iraq, Iyad Allawi, was involved with a CIA-funded terrorist group in Iraq in the early 1990s; the group apparently carried out a bombing campaign, blowing up a movie theater and possibly a school bus.New York TimesIn Alaska, a college radio DJ was fired for celebrating Ronald Reagan’s death on the air, and newAssociated Pressresearch found that people are often unable to remember traumatic events.New Scientist

The United Nations Security Council voted to support the transfer of Iraqi “sovereignty” to the new interim government; the resolution did not make reference to the interim constitution, however; this omission upset the Kurds, whose autonomy is guaranteed in that document, and they threatened to withdraw from the new Iraqi state if necessary.New York TimesA series of car bombs killed people in several Iraqi cities.ReutersThe Shiite militia loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, who reportedly plans to establish a political party, took over a police station in Najaf.New York TimesIraqi militants attacked oil pipelines near Kirkuk.New York TimesAn American military contractor was shot dead in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and anNew York TimesAmerican engineer was kidnapped.BloombergThere were reports of a Libyan plot to assassinate the Saudi royal family.New York TimesZimbabwe announced that it will eliminate private ownership of land, and aBaltimore Suntourist committed suicide by jumping out of a helicopter over the Grand Canyon.Associated PressScientists said that the “dirty bomb” plan attributed to Jose Padilla would not have worked; “it’s the equivalent,” said one physicist, “of blowing up lead.”Associated PressBrigitte Bardot was convicted of inciting racial hatred,Associated PressMongolians were ordered to adopt surnames,The AustralianPresident George W. Bush unveiled Bill Clinton’s presidential portrait, andAssociated PressGeorge Herbert Walker Bushjumped out of an airplane.New York Times

Officials from the Bosnian Serb republic admitted that its military took part in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and dumped into mass graves. CNNBritain’s Labour Party suffered huge losses in local elections and came in third behind the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.New York TimesCongo announced that it had put down a coup attempt by members of the presidential guard.New York TimesA surgeon from South Carolina proposed denying care to lawyers involved in medical-malpractice cases.Associated PressAlcohol abuse was up in the U.S., suicideAssociated Press was up in Japan, and officialsNew York Timesin North Dakota were searching for 27,000 missing pelicans.New York TimesReproductive scientists in Chicago created a line of mutant human stem cells, andNew ScientistChinese paleontologists found a perfect pterosaur in a fossil egg.Nature.comScientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory found a new method of exciting light emission from nanocrystal quantum dots.Los Alamos National LaboratoryNew photographs of Saturn’s moon Phoebe, which were taken by the Cassini space probe, suggested that the moon might be a captured comet.New ScientistAn astronomer in Virginia reconstructed the sound of the Big Bang and discovered that it sounded at first like a “majestic” major third chord and then changed to a “sadder” minor third.New ScientistRay Charles died.New York TimesScientists found that people with higher social status live longer, andNew Scientistthat women are more likely to have sex when they’re fertile.New Scientist

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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.”

Even though it’s only the second day of the Evryman retreat, it’s worth noting that I’ve already been the subject of light fraternal teasing. Already I’ve been the recipient of countless unsought hugs. Already I have sat in Large Groups and Small Groups, and watched dozens of middle-aged men weep with shame and contrition. I’ve had a guy in the military tell me he wants to be “a rock for his family.” I’ve heard a guy from Ohio say that his beard “means something.” Twice I’ve hiked through the woods to “reconnect with Mother Nature,” and I have been addressed by numerous men as both “dude” and “brother.” I have performed yoga and yard drills and morning calisthenics. I’ve heard seven different men play acoustic guitar. I’ve heard a man describe his father by saying, “There wasn’t a lot of ball-tossing when I was growing up.” Three times I’ve been queried about how I’m “processing everything,” and at the urinal on Friday night, two men warned me about the upcoming “Anger Ceremony,” which is rumored to be the weekend’s “pièce de résistance.”

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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.

I used to visit one of those friends in the Hamptons, in the 1970s, when the area was about wood-paneled Ford station wagons, not Lamborghinis. There was some money in the family, but not gobs, yet they lived two blocks from the beach—prime real estate. Now, down the road from what used to be their house is the residence of Ira Rennert. It’s one of the largest private homes in the United States. The union-busting, pension-fund-looting Rennert, whose wealth comes from, among other things, chemical companies that are some of the worst polluters in the country, made his first money in the 1980s as a cog in Michael Milken’s junk-bond machine. In 2015, a court ordered him to return $215 million he had appropriated from one of his companies to pay for the house. One-hundred-car garages and twenty-one (or maybe twenty-nine) bedrooms don’t come cheap.

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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

He had his stick that was used mostly to point at your head if your head wasn’t held up proudly.

I still like that man—Holger! He had been an orphan!

He came up to me once because there was something about how I was moving my feet that wasn’t according to the regulations or his expectations.

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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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