Weekly Review — August 31, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Devils seizing their prey.]

Two government reports, one civilian and one military, were issued on the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. The Army reported that military intelligence officers and civilian contractors were deeply involved in the abuse; the civilian report went to great lengths to avoid the logical conclusion that the Bush White House had created the conditions (legal, operational, and military) that directly led to the Abu Ghraib horrors. Both reports found that many of the techniques employed at Abu Ghraib originated in CIA torture chambers in Afghanistan.New York TimesArmy investigators discovered that military police dogs were used to terrify teenage Iraqi prisoners as part of a game. The object of the game was to make the youths urinate on themselves. “It had nothing to do with interrogation,” said an unnamed Army officer. “It was just them on their own being weird.”Agence France-PresseA lawmaker in California threatened to require performers in pornographic films to wear condoms.New York TimesMilitary trials were underway at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.New York TimesScientists found that when fruit flies are missing one of two genes that control the circadian clock, they have much greater sexual endurance. “What has been found in fruit flies,” said one of the study’s authors, “turns out to be true in humans in many ways.”Science DailyA Sudanese sheikh accused of being a leader of the Janjaweed militias that have been killing and raping black farmers in Darfur admitted that he had been “appointed” by his government to “defend their land.”TelegraphSheep, scientists found, feel calmer when they look at a picture of another sheep of the same breed.New Scientist

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in New York City to denounce George W. Bush and his policies, particularly the war in Iraq.ReutersPresident Bush declared that John Kerry is a bigger hero: “I think him going to Vietnam was more heroic than my flying fighter jets.”ReutersThe Census Bureau reported that there were 35.8 million Americans living in poverty in 2003, an increase of 1.3 million over 2002, and that the number of people without health insurance rose from 43.5 million to 45 million.ABC NewsSir Mark Thatcher, the 51-year-old son of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister, was arrested in South Africa under suspicion of financing an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea.BBC, TelegraphColombian police discovered a genetically engineered variety of coca plant that produces up to four times more cocaine than the traditional varieties.TelegraphMoktada al-Sadr’s militia surrendered the shrine of Imam Ali, U.S. tanks withdrew, and Iraqi ambulances began to recover the decaying bodies of casualties.Washington PostIraqi saboteurs attacked two oil pipelines.ReutersNine children and one adult were killed in a school bombing in Afghanistan’s Paktia province, and severalReuterspeople died in a truck bombing in front of a security company in Kabul; the Taliban claimed responsibility.ReutersTwo Russian airliners were destroyed by suicide bombers, and peopleGuardianin Chechnya apparently elected Vladimir Putin’s choice for president, though there was widespread evidence of fraud.GuardianGeneral Augusto Pinochet was stripped of his legal immunity by Chile’s supreme court.BBC

A federal judge in New York City ruled that the Partial Birth Abortion Act is unconstitutional.NewsdayDick Cheney said that he opposes a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage; he explained that he has a gay daughter and that marriage policy is best left to the states.Washington PostSocial workers in Winnipeg, Manitoba, were handing out crack pipes to addicts as part of a “harm-reduction strategy.”Globe and MailA Bush Administration report on global climate change admitted that human activity is responsible for global warming.New ScientistElisabeth Kubler-Ross died.Associated PressA study found that women who drink more than one soft drink per day are more likely to develop diabetes.Associated PressPolio continued to spread in Africa.New York TimesA new study showed that the air pollution created by cigarettes is 10 times worse than diesel exhaust.New ScientistDust storms were on the increase, and theNew Scientisthead of the EPA said that fish in almost all lakes and rivers and streams in the United States are contaminated with mercury, for which there is no safe exposure level.New York TimesScientists created genetically engineered mice that can run farther and longer than normal mice.Associated PressThe United States for the first time issued an outline for a plan for possible actions that might be taken to prepare to respond to an influenza pandemic.New York TimesCanadian fisheries experts found that Puget Sound orcas are contaminated with fire retardants, andAssociated PressJapanese seismologists predicted that Tokyo will be hit with a major earthquake within the next 50 years.Associated PressIt was reported that a janitor at Tate Modern in London threw out a work of art because he thought it was just a bag of garbage; the artwork, entitled “Recreation of First Public Demonstration of Auto-Destructive Art,” was in fact a bag of garbage.ReutersSwiss researchers found that people really do enjoy revenge.Reuters

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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.

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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