Weekly Review — April 12, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Devil Spanker]

Eighteen people died when a U.S. helicopter crashed in Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed they shot down the helicopter; the United States blamed bad weather.BBC NewsChicago TribuneIraq’s parliament elected Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, as president; his Presidency Council then named Ibrahim Jaffari, a Shiite, as prime minister.BBC NewsSenior American defense officials noted several positive developments in Iraq: only thirty-six American soldiers, they said, died there this March; attacks on allied forces were down to thirty or forty a day; and by early 2006, only 105,000 American soldiers may be needed in the country.New York TimesTens of thousands of Iraqis held a nonviolent march in Baghdad to protest the American occupation,Reuterstens of thousands of Lebanese held a mass jog through Beirut to show national unity,APand thousands of Chinese rallied to protest Japanese history textbooks.The AustralianThe Bush Administration was working to gain access to records of international money transfers,New York Timesand transcripts of legal proceedings at Guantánamo Bay were released. “I don’t care about international law,” said the president of a military tribunal in one transcript. “I don’t want to hear the words ‘international law’ again. We are not concerned with international law.”APAt the pope’s funeral, Prince Charles shook Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s hand,The Guardianthen went home to England, where he married Camilla Parker Bowles.BBC NewsTony Blair called a general election for May 5, 2005.BBC NewsPrince Rainier III of Monaco died,New York Timesand Peter Jennings announced that he has lung cancer.New York Times

Scottish soccer fans booed during a moment of silence to honor the pope,APSaul Bellow died,APand National Library Week began.The Daily DemocratThe New York Public Library planned to auction off rare artworks to raise money,New York Timesand developers in England were about to start construction on Dickens World, a $113 million theme park that will offer an Ebenezer Scrooge ride and Dickens characters on ice.SEEDAA long-lost poem written by Tennessee Williams was discovered,Washington Universityand geneticists bred blue roses.Biology News NetTen million eight hundred thousand copies of the next Harry Potter book were being printed.Argus LeaderIn Florida, investigators traced an outbreak of E. coli to a petting zoo,KansasCity.comand the EPA decided to cancel a study of the effects of pesticides on infants.Salt Lake TribuneIt was revealed that Interior Department scientists studying the environmental effects of a proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, had made things up and deleted findings they did not understand so that the development of the dump could go forward. “Science by peer pressure is dangerous but sometime it is necessary,” one scientist wrote in an email.New York TimesThe United Arab Emirates tested prototypes of robotic camel jockeys, which will replace child camel jockeys,Reutersa nine-foot-long eel with a head as big as a soccer ball was swimming loose in Australia,ABC News Onlineand millions??possibly billions??of butterflies were fluttering towards California.Biology News NetIt was announced that Cookie Monster would cut back on cookies.Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Republicans held a conference to discuss ways to reform the federal judiciary, which they say has “run amok.” Senator Tom Coburn’s chief of staff said that “mass impeachment” of judges might be necessary, and Tom DeLay, who is under investigation for illegal fundraising, gave a pre-recorded speech entitled “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith.”New York TimesDeLay was accused of paying his wife and daughter $500,000 from funds controlled by his political-action committee. He was also accused of taking lobbyist-funded trips to Russia, Saipan, and Scotland.ABC NewsNew York TimesBoth sides in Ivory Coast’s civil war signed a peace accord.Globe and MailScientists drilled 4,644 feet into the earth’s crust, nearly reaching the mantle,Kerala NextAndreaDworkin died,The Guardianand archaeologists in Germany uncovered a 7,200-year-old pornographic statue. The GuardianA study found that store clerks are more respectful to slender shoppers than to obese ones,APand scientists in Connecticut inseminated a whale.Live ScienceIn Indiana, someone threw a pie in William Kristol’s face. Someone else threw a pie at David Horowitz. Prior to the pie throwings, Pat Buchanan was doused with salad dressing.Palladium-ItemIsrael was planning to dump 10,000 tons of garbage a month into the West Bank,Haaretzand Israeli soldiers shot dead three Palestinian teenagers in Gaza.HaaretzA social-studies teacher in Georgia was in trouble for putting on blackface,WSBTV.coma Virginia judge sentenced a spammer to nine years in jail,APand a Georgia man died after police shot him with nonlethal beanbags.CNN.comMany conservative American pharmacists were refusing to dispense birth control,BBC Newsand tailors sewed the next pope’srobes.USA Today

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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.

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

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