Weekly Review — May 24, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Lost Souls in Hell, 1875]

Lost Souls in Hell, 1875.

North Korea needed food.BBC NewsWal-Mart announced that it would export $18 billion worth of Chinese goods,Forbesand researchers in Singapore developed a system that allows people to pet chickens over the Internet.Wired NewsPakistan was working to stop bearbaiting,BBC NewsChina put a halt to the practice of using naked women for plates in sushi restaurants,BBC Newsand Warren Beatty was wondering whether he should run for governor of California.ABC NewsNew York was reviewing a law that allows convicted rapists to obtain Viagra through Medicaid,APand a parachutist died in a fall from the Eiffel Tower.News.telegraphKylie Minogue announced that she has breast cancer.BBC NewsBritish MP George Galloway went to Washington, D.C., to respond to allegations that he profited from the U.N.-managed Iraq oil-for-food program. “I met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him,” said Galloway. “The difference is that Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns, and to give him maps the better to target those guns.”GuardianBefore he testified, Galloway called journalist Christopher Hitchens “a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay.”GuardianGeorge W. Bush vowed to veto any bill that eases funding restrictions on stem-cell research,BBC Newsand Donald Trump called on New York City to rebuild the Twin Towers, only taller, and described the city’s planned “Freedom Tower” as “the worst pile of crap architecture I have ever seen in my life.”CNN.comIn Britain, Ford Motor Company suspended seven workers when they were caught looking at woman-on-octopus pornography on company computers. “Management,” said an employee, “didn’t see the funny side.”The Sun

A professor of biology at Indiana University claimed that the female orgasm was only for fun,AZCentral.comand Laura Bush went to Jerusalem, where she wore a black pantsuit and black shawl to the Dome of the Rock and the women’s section of the Western Wall. “We commit ourselves,” she said, “to reject hatred and to teach tolerance and live in peace.” She was heckled by both Muslims and Jews.New York TimesOn the same day, Ariel Sharon visited New York City, where he was also heckled by Jews.BBC NewsIn Chile, Augusto Pinochet’s doctors claimed that Pinochet had suffered a stroke; human-rights lawyers said he was just being wily.ABC.net.auVenezuelan president Hugo Chavez said that he might break diplomatic ties with the United States if the U.S. did not hand over Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA employee who is accused of blowing up a Cuban airplane in 1976, killing seventy-three people.BBC NewsAn avalanche in the Andes killed forty-one Chilean soldiers,Houston Chronicleand in West Virginia, a 1,500-pound camel sat on a woman as she painted a fence.USA TodayNear Seattle, Mary K. Letourneau, forty-three, married Vili Fualaau, twenty-two, whom she first raped when he was twelve,BBC Newsand a California man was arrested because he lived in a tent for two weeks in order to buy tickets to the new Star Wars movie; his doing so violated a requirement that, as a sex offender, he let police know if he changed lodgings.NCTimesIt turned out that a grenade that landed one hundred feet away from George W. Bush during a recent speech in Tbilisi, Georgia, was not a training device but had simply failed to work. Georgian officials offered an $11,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.New York TimesIn Bolotnikovo, Russia, a lake disappeared.ReutersPeople in Zanzibar were living in fear of a sexually rapacious, sodomy-prone goblin named Popo Bawa,Reutersand Dr. W. David Hager, the George W. Bush-appointed adviser to the FDA and a vocal opponent of emergency contraception, abortion, and pre-marital sex, was accused by his ex-wife of anally raping her on a regular basis over many years. Hager is the author of the books As Jesus Cared for Women and, with his wife, Stress and the Woman’s Body.The Nation

In Texas a five-year-old brought a loaded gun to his pre-kindergarten class,AZCentral.comand in Indiana a three-year-old boy crawled inside a toy vending machine at a Wal-Mart and had to be freed by firemen. He did not receive a toy.BBC NewsThe Bush Administration continued to criticize Newsweek for reporting that U.S. soldiers had desecrated the Koran. “People need to be careful what they say,” said Donald Rumsfeld. “Our United States military personnel go out of their way,” said White House press secretary Scott McClellan, “to make sure that the Holy Koran is treated with care.”New York TimesSince the Newsweek story broke, many other cases of Koran desecration over the last two years have emerged. Apparently, in addition to putting the Koran in the toilet, guards have urinated on it, trampled on it, put it in a urine bucket, and allowed a dog to carry Islam’s holiest book in its mouth.Financial ReviewWashington PostNewspapers published photos of Saddam Hussein standing in his underwear, shuffling around, and sleeping.BBC News The photos may violate the Geneva Convention, which prohibits “outrages upon personal dignity,” and some people questioned whether the photos could incite further violence in the Middle East. “I don’t think a photo inspires murders,” said President Bush.Seattle PI Hussein threatened to sue.BBC NewsSenators compromised on filibusters,MSNBCand a new kind of monkey was discovered in Tanzania. It communicates in honking barks rather than in whoop-gobbles.Washington PostIn Georgia a businessman named Hubert Johnson agreed to take down a large stuffed monkey that was hanging from a crane outside his drilling business. “The message to the workers is, ‘Don’t monkey around with safety’,” said Johnson, even though the monkey had its hands and face painted black and was draped in a Confederate flag.AJC.comIn Houston large black grackles swooped down from magnolia trees to attack passersby, including a lawyer,CNN.comand a man in Holland was being tried on charges that he killed his mother, skinned her, dressed up in her skin, and then went out to direct traffic and recite Bible verses. “He loved her so much,” said his lawyer. Daily RecordIn Iraq sixteen people were killed when a car bomb exploded outside of a restaurant; at least twelve people were killed in other attacks.New York TimesIraq’s unemployed were selling their organs at cut rates,News.telegraphand American funeral homes were earning frequent-flier miles every time they shipped a corpse.Wall Street Journal

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Secrets and Lies·

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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.

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Out of sight on Leros, the island of the damned

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Poem for Harm·

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Reflections on harm in language and the trouble with Whitman

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Good Bad Bad Good·

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About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

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Life after Life·

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.
—Chaucer

I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

A solid-gold toilet named “America” was stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire, England.

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