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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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.

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