Weekly Review — February 22, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Saluting the Town, March 1854]

CIA Director Porter J. Goss claimed that the war in Iraq is making it easier for terrorist organizations to find new recruits,Washington Postand Sunni Arab tribal chiefs insisted that they be given a role in the new Iraqi government. “We made a big mistake,” said a sheik, “when we didn’t vote.”The AgeEight suicide bombings killed ninety-one people in Iraq, and United States Marines and Iraqi security forces were fighting insurgents in Ramadi, seventy-five miles west of Baghdad.The AgeNew York TimesAn Episcopal priest who fought in Vietnam, distraught over the war in Iraq, killed himself in Wenatchee, Washington,Seattle Post-Intelligencerand President George W. Bush nominated John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, as the first director of national intelligence. Negroponte was ambassador to the U.N. from 2001-2004 and ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985; he is alleged to have turned a blind eye to human rights abuses in Honduras and to have helped the Nicaraguan Contras find funds. Negroponte will oversee fifteen separate intelligence agencies and will deliver the daily intelligence briefing to the president.ReutersTalahassee DemocratIn Venezuela, where floods and mudslides killed thirty-seven,CNNVenezuelan President Hugo Chavez claimed that the United States had plans to kill him. “If, by the hand of the devil, those perverse plans succeed . . . forget about Venezuelan oil, Mr. Bush,” Chavez said.BBC NewsIn England, a nuclear power plant was unable to account for nearly thirty kilograms of plutonium, enough to make seven nuclear bombs; the discrepancy was said to exist only on paper.BBC NewsAriel Sharon announced plans to withdraw 8,500 settlers from Gaza and several hundred settlers from the West Bank. The Knesset ratified the plan, setting aside $870 million for resettlement, even though some Israeli parliamentarians compared the withdrawal to the deportation of Jews during the Holocaust.New York TimesNew York TimesNew York TimesIsrael freed five hundred Palestinian prisoners,New York Timesand guards were placed around the grave of Sharon’s wife, Lily, to protect it from desecration by outraged settlers.New York TimesSyria denied any role in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, former Prime Minister of Lebanon and critic of the Syrian occupation, who was killed in a Beirut bombing. The United States withdrew its ambassador to Syria, and 100,000 mourners turned out for Hariri’s funeral. CNNSyria and Iran announced that they would form a “common front” to face mutual threats, but Syria’s ambassador to the U.S. said that this had nothing to do with the United States.Daily TimesIn Egypt, a team of thirteen doctors removed a second, “parasitic” head from a baby girl,Reutersand NASA researchers studying the methane signatures of Mars found evidence of life below the Martian surface.Space.comLawrence Rawl, head of Exxon during the Valdez spill, died from Alzheimer’s,Contra Costa Timesand Texasexecuted another prisoner.CNNTwo paintings of dogs playing poker sold for $590,000.MSNBC

A study showed that 310,000 Europeansdie from air pollution each year,.The Independentand the Kyoto Protocol went into effect. The treaty, which calls for a 5.2 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012, was ratified by 155 countries. The world’s top polluter, the United States, did not sign, citing costs.BBC NewsThe House approved a measure to limit class-action lawsuits, redirecting large lawsuits from state to federal courts, USA Todayand the Pentagon allocated $127 billion to build a robot army. Some of the robots will look and walk like humans, some will hover in the air, and some will make their own choices during battle. “The lawyers tell me there are no prohibitions against robots making life-or-death decisions,” said a representative from the U.S. Joint Forces Research Center.New York TimesIt was revealed that the Army, seeking to avoid scandal, destroyed photos of U.S. soldiers holding mock executions of hooded Afghan detainees.APChinese scientists announced the development of a new process that turns sewage water and mud into organic fertilizer and pesticide, Xinhuanetand North Korea celebrated Kim Jong Il’s sixty-third birthday. “The Americans swagger like a tiger around the world,” said North Korea’s Pyongyang Radio, “but they whimper before our Republic as the tiger does before the porcupine.” APMohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that U.S. policies on Iran and North Korea are inconsistent, and that no evidence exists to implicate Iran in the development of nuclear weapons. Washington PostTogo’s President Faure Gnassingbe promised to hold elections within sixty days; Gnassingbe took control of the presidency after the former president, his father, died in office.BBC NewsThe Ugandan army admitted that it had recruited eight hundred child soldiers who had escaped from serving in the opposition Lord’s Resistance Army.BBC NewsAvalanches in Kashmir killed over one hundred people,BBC Newsand archeologists were excavating an ancient Indian city uncovered by the December tsunami.APSix Indian students killed themselves because they were anxious over their upcoming board exams.The Times of IndiaA car bomb in Thailand killed five.BBC NewsEcuadorean President Lucio Gutierrez fired most of his country’s supreme court,BBC Newsa tanker spilled thirteen tons of oil into Tunisian waters,BBC Newsand the body of Cecilia Cubas, the kidnapped daughter of Paraguay’s ex-president, was found in an underground chamber.BBC NewsSudan refused to allow war-crimes suspects from Darfur to be tried at The Hague, insisting that they instead be tried at home in Sudan,BBC Newsand a scientist in Chicago used stem cells to grow fat tissue, which can be used in breast implants.New Scientist

Scientists were waiting for H5N1, an avian flu virus that has killed forty-one people in Thailand and Vietnam, to mutate into a form that can spread more rapidly among humans. If that happens, the flu is expected to kill tens of millions worldwide. Thailand rejected a plan to slow the spread of the flu because the plan’s executionâ??which called for the destruction of millions of possibly infected ducks and chickens and the distribution of face masksâ??would alarm the public. The IndependentThe Socialist Party won a landslide victory in Portugal,CNNand a mine explosion in Fuxin, China, killed 203.Chinese mine explosion kills 203Secret tapes made of George W. Bush between 1998 and 2000 indicated that Bush once considered John Ashcroft for Vice President and that he most likely smoked marijuana in the past.New York TimesSpeaking in Brussels, Bush called on Syria to end its occupation of Lebanon; he also said it was time for Europe and the United States to work together.The GuardianAn expert witness in the Robert Blakemurder case testified that he once crawled into a cage filled with crack-smokingmonkeys,E! Onlineand two former caretakers of Koko, the gorilla that can speak in sign language, sued for harassment. The caretakers claim they were pressured into exposing their breasts to satisfy Koko’s nipple fetish.The GuardianThe ban on fox hunting went into effect in England and Wales and was expected to be widely ignored.ReutersA poll found that Americans believe Ronald Reagan to be the greatest president in history,APand Hunter S. Thompson killed himself with a .45.The GuardianThe British Navy was actively seeking gay recruits,The GuardiandogsDogs in Australia were licking toads to get high,The World Newsand a luxury hotel was scheduled to open at Berchtesgaden.APAn eighty-year-old Australian doctor had “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” tattooed across his chest,News.com.auand in Hong Kong, the bough of a lucky “wishing tree” broke off, scratching a four-year-old boy’s head and breaking a man’s leg.New York Times

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I was tucked in a blind behind a soda machine, with nothing in my hand but notepad and phone, when a herd of running backs broke cover and headed across the convention center floor. My God, they’re beautiful! A half dozen of them, compact as tanks, stuffed into sports shirts and cotton pants, each, around his monstrous neck, wearing a lanyard that listed number and position, name and schedule, tasks to be accomplished at the 2019 N.F.L. Scout­ing Combine. They attracted the stunned gaze of football fans and beat writers, yet, seemingly unaware of their surroundings, continued across the carpet.

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Thirty miles from the coast, on a desert plateau in the Judaean Mountains without natural resources or protection, Jerusalem is not a promising site for one of the world’s great cities, which partly explains why it has been burned to the ground twice and besieged or attacked more than seventy times. Much of the Old City that draws millions of tourists and Holy Land pilgrims dates back two thousand years, but the area ­likely served as the seat of the Judaean monarchy a full millennium before that. According to the Bible, King David conquered the Canaanite city and established it as his capital, but over centuries of destruction and rebuilding all traces of that period were lost. In 1867, a British military officer named Charles Warren set out to find the remnants of David’s kingdom. He expected to search below the famed Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, but the Ottoman authorities denied his request to excavate there. Warren decided to dig instead on a slope outside the Old City walls, observing that the Psalms describe Jerusalem as lying in a valley surrounded by hills, not on top of one.

On a Monday morning earlier this year, I walked from the Old City’s Muslim Quarter to the archaeological site that Warren unearthed, the ancient core of Jerusalem now known as the City of David. In the alleys of the Old City, stone insulated the air and awnings blocked the sun, so the streets were cold and dark and the mood was somber. Only the pilgrims were up this early. American church groups filed along the Via Dolorosa, holding thin wooden crosses and singing a hymn based on a line from the Gospel of Luke: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Narrow shops sold gardenia, musk, and amber incense alongside sweatshirts promoting the Israel Defense Forces.

I passed through the Western Wall Plaza to the Dung Gate, popularly believed to mark the ancient route along which red heifers were led to the Temple for sacrifice. Outside the Old City walls, in the open air, I found light and heat and noise. Tour buses lined up like train cars along the ridge. Monday is the day when bar and bat mitzvahs are held in Israel, and drumbeats from distant celebrations mixed with the pounding of jackhammers from construction sites nearby. When I arrived at the City of David, workmen were refinishing the wooden deck at the site’s entrance and laying down a marble mosaic by the ticket window.

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Eleven years ago, on a bitter January night, dozens of young men, dressed in a uniform of black berets, white T-­shirts, and black pants, gathered on a hill overlooking the Nigerian city of Jos, shouting, dancing, and shooting guns into the black sky. A drummer pounded a rhythmic beat. Amid the roiling crowd, five men crawled toward a candlelit dais, where a white-­robed priest stood holding an axe. Leading them was John, a sophomore at the local college, powerfully built and baby-faced. Over the past six hours, he had been beaten and burned, trampled and taunted. He was exhausted. John looked out at the landscape beyond the priest. It was the harmattan season, when Saharan sand blots out the sky, and the city lights in the distance blurred in John’s eyes as if he were underwater.

John had been raised by a single mother in Kaduna, a hardscrabble city in Nigeria’s arid north. She’d worked all hours as a construction supplier, but the family still struggled to get by. Her three boys were left alone for long stretches, and they killed time hunting at a nearby lake while listening to American rap. At seventeen, John had enrolled at the University of Jos to study business. Four hours southeast of his native Kaduna, Jos was another world, temperate and green. John’s mother sent him an allowance, and he made cash on the side rearing guard dogs for sale in Port Harcourt, the perilous capital of Nigeria’s oil industry. But it wasn’t much. John’s older brother, also studying in Jos, hung around with a group of Axemen—members of the Black Axe fraternity—who partied hard and bought drugs and cars. Local media reported a flood of crimes that Axemen had allegedly committed, but his brother’s friends promised John that, were he to join the group, he wouldn’t be forced into anything illegal. He could just come to the parties, help out at the odd charity drive, and enjoy himself. It was up to him.

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I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t get up—­just couldn’t get up, couldn’t get up or leave. All day lying in that median, unable. Was this misery or joy?

It’s happened to you, too, hasn’t it? A habit or phase, a marriage, a disease, children or drugs, money or debt—­something you believed inescapable, something that had been going on for so long that you’d forgotten any and every step taken to lead your life here. What did you do? How did this happen? When you try to solve the crossword, someone keeps adding clues.

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The Catholic School, by Edoardo Albinati. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1,280 pages. $40.

In a quiet northern suburb of Rome, a woman hears noises in the street and sends her son to investigate. Someone is locked in the trunk of a Fiat 127. The police arrive and find one girl seriously injured, together with the corpse of a second. Both have been raped, tortured, and left for dead. The survivor speaks of three young aggressors and a villa by the sea. Within hours two of the men have been arrested. The other will never be found.

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