Weekly Review — March 8, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Lost Souls in Hell, 1875]

Lost Souls in Hell, 1875.

President George W. Bush demanded that Syria pull out of Lebanon.New York PostSyria agreed to move its troops into eastern Lebanon, but the U.S. State Department warned that this is not enough.GuardianIraqi insurgents killed seventeen people.New York TimesA poll found that most Americans are against Social Security reform,Bloombergand the U.S. Mint planned to circulate $5 million in new buffalo nickels.New York TimesA 22-pound, century-old lobster was caught off Nantucket,CNNand a 13-pound, 13-ounce baby boy was born in Britain; the boy’s mother credited the boy’s size to her steady diet of cockles, herring, mussels, and crab claws, provided by her fishmonger husband.News & StarA toddler in Deer Park, Texas, drowned in a dirty swimming pool. Click2HoustonNevada announced that it would cost $2 billion to pipe water from rural Nevada to Las Vegas,New York Timesand the town of Hodmezovasarhely, Hungary, offered honorary citizenship to all Hungarians living abroad.New York TimesMost Hungarian adults were found to be single.AFPMicrosoft was developing a teddy bear with a rotating head that will watch little children,APand a toddler in Nebraska strangled himself with an automatic car window as his mother’s boyfriend played soccer nearby.The Omaha ChannelBill Gates was knighted.ABC NewsIn Bangladesh, four infants were on trial for looting, with bail set at fifty dollars per infant.BBC News

U.N. peacekeepers killed sixty Lendu in Congo in order to protect the Hema.New York TimesTwo community colleges in California halted their student-exchange program with Spain after Spain pulled out of the Iraq war.USA TodayA Swiss synesthete who tastes music reported that Bach is creamy;New Scientist50 Cent expelled The Game from G Unit. Gunfire followed.BBC NewsPresident Bush said that his administration granted $2 billion to social programs at churches, synagogues, and mosques in 2004–20 percent more than in 2003. The President made it clear that these programs did not discriminate based on faith. “All drunks are welcome,” he said.New York TimesThe U.S. State Department released a report criticizing other countries for using torture techniques often used by the United States,Washington Postand four Iraqis and four Afghans sued Donald Rumsfeld for torture.Chicago TribuneItaly paid the ransom for a journalist kidnapped in Iraq; U.S. forces then fired on the journalist’s escape car, killing an Italian military intelligence agent and wounding the journalist.BBC NewsAt around the same time, U.S. troops accidentally shot and killed a Bulgarian soldier.ReutersChina condemned the United Stateshuman-rights record,People’s Dailyand Darryl Strawberry said that baseball players who use steroids lack discipline.New York TimesU.S. scientists were working on a device that shoots pain rays up to two kilometers.New ScientistJack Nicklaus’stoddler grandson drowned in a hot tub.SFGateA Maryland woman died after being locked in her bedroom for six years,The WBAL Channeland Sony made a Welshman its chairman.New York Times

Scientists found that a man’s boisterousness is a reflection of whether his index finger is short when compared to his ring finger.BBC NewsThree anonymous donors gave $3 million to resurrect the cancelled TV show “Star Trek: Enterprise,”TrekUnited.comand a very rich man flewsolo around the world in sixty-seven hours.The GuardianMartha Stewart was released from prison. While incarcerated Stewart’s wealth increased $700 million, and her cappuccinomachine broke.Times OnlineAlan Greenspan called for the United States to replace the income tax with a consumption tax.New York TimesThe Department of Homeland Security required 1,700 legal immigrants to wear ankle bracelets,NPRand a toddler was swept away in the Rio Grande as his parents tried to cross into Texas from Mexico.Houston ChronicleRepresentative Jim Gibbons of Nevada called for liberals to be used as human shields in Iraq; he later apologized for plagiarizing his remarks.Reno Gazette-JournalThe House passed a bill that provides for special elections if more than one hundred representatives are killed.CBS NewsA poll found that Americans want a Democrat to be elected president in the next election on the television show “The West Wing.”Zogby InternationalBill Clinton slept on the floor of an airplane so that George H.W. Bush could have a nice soft bed,CNNand in South Africa a goat adopted a baby rhino.NBC5Archaeologists in Ethiopia unearthed several four-million-year-old skeletons believed to be ancestors of modern humans.ReutersThe president of Bolivia resigned,Reutersand Niger decided not to hold a ceremony to free seven thousand slaves, because slavery does not exist in Niger.BBC NewsThe U.N. predicted that 90 million Africans will have HIV by 2025,BBC Newsand the pope could speak again.New York TimesThirty-seven percent of American Jews said that they were “often disturbed” by Israeli policy,Forwardand the Israeli army denied high-level security clearance to soldiers who play Dungeons & Dragons.YNet NewsA U.S. government report suggested that there are more Palestinians than Israelis.Electronic IntifadaBritain’s BAE Systems agreed to buy America’s United Defense Industries, maker of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, for $4 billion.New York TimesThe U.S. Navy was looking into whether sonar confuses dolphins, causing them to surface too quickly and get the bends.Boston.comIn California, a couple visiting an animal sanctuary to celebrate their pet chimp’s thirty-ninth birthday were just about to cut into a birthday cake when two other chimps, presumably jealous, attacked. The chimps, Buddy and Ollie, bit off the sixty-two-year-old man’s fingers, gouged out one of his eyes, ripped off his nose, hacked off a foot and parts of his lips, mutilated his buttocks, and tore off his testicles. The chimps also bit off his wife’s thumb before they were shot and killed. The birthday chimp was unharmed.NewsdayThe New Zealand HeraldSFGateA pedophile marijuana grower shot and killed four Mounties, then himself, in Alberta, Canada.Globe and MailThe White House Press Office approved a press pass for a blogger,Raw Storyand members of Congress were themselves blogging.New York TimesFOX News had over twice as many viewers as CNN.New York PostA toddler was lost in the Alabama woods; police, firemen, and family friends searched for him in vain. Finally, he was rescued by a three-legged dog.NBC 13

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The city was not beautiful; no one made that claim for it. At the height of summer, people in suits, shellacked by the sun, moved like harassed insects to avoid the concentrated light. There was a civil war–like fracture in America—the president had said so—but little of it showed in the capital. Everyone was polite and smooth in their exchanges. The corridor between Dupont Circle and Georgetown was like the dream of Yugoslav planners: long blocks of uniform earth-toned buildings that made the classical edifices of the Hill seem the residue of ancestors straining for pedigree. Bunting, starched and perfectly ruffled in red-white-and-blue fans, hung everywhere—from air conditioners, from gutters, from statues of dead revolutionaries. Coming from Berlin, where the manual laborers are white, I felt as though I was entering the heart of a caste civilization. Untouchables in hard hats drilled into sidewalks, carried pylons, and ate lunch from metal boxes, while waiters in restaurants complimented old respectable bobbing heads on how well they were progressing with their rib eyes and iceberg wedges.

I had come to Washington to witness either the birth of an ideology or what may turn out to be the passing of a kidney stone through the Republican Party. There was a new movement afoot: National Conservatives, they called themselves, and they were gathering here, at the Ritz-Carlton, at 22nd Street and M. Disparate tribes had posted up for the potlatch: reformacons, blood-and-soilers, curious liberal nationalists, “Austrians,” repentant neocons, evangelical Christians, corporate raiders, cattle ranchers, Silicon Valley dissidents, Buckleyites, Straussians, Orthodox Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Tories, dark-web spiders, tradcons, Lone Conservatives, Fed-Socs, Young Republicans, Reaganites in amber. Most straddled more than one category.

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The second-worst thing about cancer chairs is that they are attached to televisions. Someone somewhere is always at war with silence. It’s impossible to read, so I answer email, or watch some cop drama on my computer, or, if it seems unavoidable, explore the lives of my nurses. A trip to Cozumel with old girlfriends, a costume party with political overtones, an advanced degree on the internet: they’re all the same, these lives, which is to say that the nurses tell me nothing, perhaps because amid the din and pain it’s impossible to say anything of substance, or perhaps because they know that nothing is precisely what we both expect. It’s the very currency of the place. Perhaps they are being excruciatingly candid.

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When Demétrio Martins was ready to preach, he pushed a joystick that angled the seat of his wheelchair forward, slowly lifting him to a standing position. Restraints held his body upright. His atrophied right arm lay on an armrest, and with his left hand, he put a microphone to his lips. “Proverbs, chapter fourteen, verse twelve,” he said. “ ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is . . .’ ”

The congregation finished: “ ‘Death.’ ”

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Every year in Lusk, Wyoming, during the second week of July, locals gather to reenact a day in 1849 when members of a nearby band of Sioux are said to have skinned a white man alive. None of the actors are Native American. The white participants dress up like Indians and redden their skin with body paint made from iron ore.

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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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