Weekly Review — June 29, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Luther controlled by the Devil, 1875]

L. Paul Bremer, the American proconsul in Iraq, in one of his final acts before handing over “sovereignty” to Iraq’s new interim government, decreed that American forces will remain immune from prosecution by Iraqi courts for crimes against Iraqi citizens or destruction of property. It was noted that a similar grant of immunity in Iran in the 1960s had unfortunate consequences. “Our honor has been trampled underfoot; the dignity of Iran has been destroyed,” said the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1964. He said that the order “reduced the Iranian people to a level lower than that of an American dog.”Washington Post “My understanding of this issue,” said General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “is that the CPA orders cannot be repealed or modified until Iraq’s permanent government is in place to enact legislation.”Agence France-PresseThe White House disavowed a Justice Department memorandum that argues that it’s okay to torture terrorism suspects.Washington PostPaul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, apologized for saying the reporters in Iraq were just repeating rumors because they’re too afraid to travel, andReutersColin Powell said that declaring martial law in Iraq would make things worse.ReutersIraqi insurgents killed more than 100 people in one day in attacks all across the country, aWashington PostSouth Korean hostage was beheaded, threeNew York TimesTurks and a Pakistani were kidnapped, and militants threatened to kill a captured U.S. Marine.ReutersA poll showed that most Americans now think the invasion of Iraq was a mistake that has made the country more vulnerable to terrorism.USA Today

President George W. Bush was questioned by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as part of the investigation into who in the White House exposed the identity of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative, as part of a campaign to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who criticized the decision to conquer Iraq.ReutersThe Supreme Court declined to make Dick Cheney release the records of his 2001 Energy Task Force and sent the case back to a lower court for further consideration;ReutersCheney said he felt much better after he told Senator Patrick Leahy, who has been critical of Halliburton’s war profiteering in Iraq, to go fuck himself.ReutersLos Angeles police officers were videotaped beating a black man after he surrendered peacefully.New York TimesMonica Lewinsky denounced Bill Clinton’s new memoir and said that he had destroyed her life.ReutersA judge in Oklahoma was accused of using a penis pump in court.USA Today

Al Gore said that George W. Bush is a liar for repeatedly suggesting that Saddam Hussein was allied with Osama bin Laden and that the president’s “consistent and careful artifice is itself evidence that he knew full well that he was telling an artful and important lie.”ReutersScientists discovered that rats who snort a special virus do not get as high on cocaine.New ScientistIt was reported that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon was crowned in the Senate office building after announcing that he is the “savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent.” Several lawmakers from both major parties were present, including Rep. Danny Davis, who wore white gloves as he placed the crown on Moon’s head.The HillTwo bombs went off in Istanbul.Agence France-PresseHealth experts warned of a possible polio epidemic in western and central Africa, and theNew ScientistDepartment of Health and Human Services took steps to limit free contact between American scientists and the World Health Organization.ReutersToxic chemical pollution was up 5 percent in 2002, the EPA announced.Associated PressHappy married women have healthier hearts than lonely unhappy women, and anReutersIranian mother claimed to have given birth to a frog.BBCNew research suggested that needle biopsies might help spread breast cancer to the sentinel node.ReutersAnother mad cow was apparently discovered somewhere in the United States, but the USDA refused to say where until more tests were completed.Associated PressBritish researchers found that sudden infant death syndrome is more likely to happen on weekends.BBCThe first privately funded astronaut made it into space.New ScientistA Japaneseteacher forced a student to write an apology in his own blood after he was caught sleeping in class.MSNBCA Germanzoologist announced that bees are really quite lazy,Telegraphand scientists said that SARS was found in tears.BBC

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Good Bad Bad Good·

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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.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.
—Chaucer

I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

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Constitution in Crisis·

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America’s Constitution was once celebrated as a radical and successful blueprint for democratic governance, a model for fledgling republics across the world. But decades of political gridlock, electoral corruption, and dysfunction in our system of government have forced scholars, activists, and citizens to question the document’s ability to address the thorniest issues of modern ­political life.

Does the path out of our current era of stalemate, minority rule, and executive abuse require amending the Constitution? Do we need a new constitutional convention to rewrite the document and update it for the twenty-­first century? Should we abolish it entirely?

This spring, Harper’s Magazine invited five lawmakers and scholars to New York University’s law school to consider the constitutional crisis of the twenty-­first century. The event was moderated by Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown and the author of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon.

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Secrets and Lies·

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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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Power of Attorney·

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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.’ ”

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

A federal judge authored a 69-page ruling preventing New York City from enforcing zoning laws pertaining to adult bookstores and strip clubs.

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