Weekly Review — March 7, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Devil Spanker]

More than 100 people were killed in fighting in Iraq. “I think,” said the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, “the country came to the brink of civil war. But Iraqis decided that they didn’t want to go down that path.”The New York TimesThe New York TimesIn the Baghdad area, Sunni militants were evicting Shiites from their homes. “We want you out of here by 8 p.m. tomorrow,” one man was told. “If we find you here, we will kill you.”The Washington PostPresident George W. Bush said that Iraq’s choice was between “chaos or unity,”The New York Timesand it was reported that the White House had ignored repeated warnings about the growing capabilities of the Iraqi insurgency. “This was stuff,” said a former high-ranking intelligence official, “the White House and the Pentagon did not want to hear.”The U.S. State Department asked for $100 million for the reconstruction of Iraqiprisons.Democracy Now!Saddam Hussein told a court that, after a 1982 attempt to assassinate him failed in Dujail, north of Baghdad, he ordered trials for 148 Iraqis and had the local orchards razed. Hussein insisted that his actions were lawful; all of those tried were later executed or tortured to death.The Washington PostOnly 75 psychiatrists remained in Iraq.Democracy Now!In Pakistan, four people, including a U.S. diplomat, were killed in a suicide bombing.The New York TimesThe European Union approved a $140 million aid package for Palestine.BBC NewsIn France far-right groups were criticized for serving pork soup to the poor with the intent of discriminating against observant Muslims and Jews. “We are all pig eaters!” chanted a crowd of soup activists. “We are all pig eaters!”The New York TimesAn Italian commission found that the Soviet Union organized the shooting of Pope John Paul II in 1981.A videotape emerged showing President Bush being warned that Hurricane Katrina could flood New Orleans,AP via Yahoo! Newsand it was revealed that the Bush Administration had lowered the fines for mine safety violations and failed to collect nearly one half of the fines levied.The New York TimesPresident Bush’s approval rating fell to 34 percent,CBS Newsand Vice President Dick Cheney’s approval rating fell to 18 percent.CBS NewsBush proposed legislation to give the President a line-item veto, even though the Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that a line-item veto was unconstitutional, The New York Timesand it was rumored that Cheney would retire in 2007.Insight on the News

A physicist at Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, India, speculated that the “red rain” that fell in the Kerala district of western India in 2001 was filled with extraterrestrial, bacteria-like material from a passing comet.The GuardianPresident Bush, after a brief stop in Afghanistan, visited India, where he was met by 100,000 protesters in New Delhi; he promised to provide India with nuclear fuel and expertise.Democracy Now!CNN.comAt least 65 dogs in the President’s security detail were put up at a five-star hotel in New Delhi; hotel staff were told to address the dogs as “sergeant” or “major.”New KeralaLaura Bush counted to five on Indian children’s TV. “She loved Boombah,” said an official from a television studio, “the giant, cuddly, Punjabi-rapping lion.”Express IndiaCondoleezza Rice appeared on television lifting weights and stretching at the gym. “You’d be surprised,” she said, “how many places around the world have gyms or exercise machines.”NBC News via WonketteIt was reported that U.S. prisons often shackle women prisoners during childbirth,The New York Daily Newsand a study found that laws requiring minors to obtain parental consent before receiving an abortion have had almost no effect on the number of abortions performed. “I would have told my mother anyway,” said a 16-year-old abortionee in Pennsylvania.The New York TimesWal-Mart announced that it would begin to sell the morning-after pill, but would not require pharmacists to fill prescriptions if the pill offends them.The New York TimesIn Vietnam musician Paul Gadd, also known as Gary Glitter, was found guilty of sexually abusing two preteen girls. He will be jailed for three years and must pay the girls’ families 5 million dong.BBC News

AT&T announced that it would purchase Bell South for $67 billion and eliminate 10,000 jobs.The New York TimesA cat died of bird flu in Germany. The New York TimesScientists, some funded by the U.S. military, continued their research into controlling the brains of monkeys and sharks. “We believe,” said a researcher at the University of Washington, Seattle, “we are the first to record neural activity from a monkey doing a somersault.”New ScientistResearchers in Chicago verified that a quantum computer does not have to perform any calculations in order to arrive at results. Science NewsA Rhode Island man who attempted to pay down a large balance on his JCPenney charge card was told that the payment would be delayed because it first had to be approved by Homeland Security.The Providence JournalThe Senate renewed the Patriot Act and sent it to the House; the House is expected to pass the legislation soon.MSNBCFormer U.S. Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham was sentenced to eight years, four months in federal prison for accepting bribes,CNN.comand the Pentagon released the names of the inmates at Guantánamo Bay as part of 5,000 pages of hearing transcripts; one man, Abdur Sayed Rahman, a Pakistani chicken farmer, was apparently held because his name was similar to that of Taliban deputy minister Abdur Zahid Rahman.ABC NewsThe Kenyan government raided a newspaper that had been critical of government corruption, along with an affiliated TV station. “If you rattle a snake,” said Internal Security Minister John Michuki, “you must be prepared to be bitten by it.”BBC NewsIn Columbus, Ohio, a 54-year-old man was in jail after being caught hiding in bathrooms to collect the urine of adolescent boys. “I’m drinking their youth,” he explained.WJACTV.comThe White House announced that it would step up its efforts to control leaks.The Washington PostAuthor Octavia Butler died,The Los Angeles Timesand a Britishastronomer named Gerry Gilmore predicted that ground-based telescopes would be useless within 40 years because of climate change and jet contrails. “You either give up your cheap trips to Majorca,” he said, “or you give up astronomy.”BBC NewsIn Nassau County, New York, a newborn baby was run over by several different vehicles; its sex and race could not be determined.The New York TimesGlobal warming forced the organizers of Alaska’s Iditarod dogsledrace to move the race 30 miles north,Reutersand investigators found that termites had survived the flooding of New Orleans.Reuters via Yahoo! News

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“You’re being reborn,” the voice says. “Exiting the womb of your mother. Coming into the earth as a small baby. Everything is new.” It is a Saturday morning in mid-March, and right now I’m lying on a yoga mat in a lodge in Ohio, surrounded by fifty other men who’ve come to the Midwest for a weekend of manhood-confirming adventures. The voice in question belongs to Aaron Blaine, a facilitator for Evryman, the men’s group orchestrating this three-day retreat. All around me, men are shedding tears as Blaine leads us on a guided meditation, a kind of archetypal montage of Norman Rockwell boyhood. “You’re starting to figure things out,” he says, in somniferous baritone. “Snow, for the first time. Sunshine. Start to notice the smells, the tastes, the confusion. The fear. And you’re growing. You’re about ten years old. The world’s huge and scary.”

Even though it’s only the second day of the Evryman retreat, it’s worth noting that I’ve already been the subject of light fraternal teasing. Already I’ve been the recipient of countless unsought hugs. Already I have sat in Large Groups and Small Groups, and watched dozens of middle-aged men weep with shame and contrition. I’ve had a guy in the military tell me he wants to be “a rock for his family.” I’ve heard a guy from Ohio say that his beard “means something.” Twice I’ve hiked through the woods to “reconnect with Mother Nature,” and I have been addressed by numerous men as both “dude” and “brother.” I have performed yoga and yard drills and morning calisthenics. I’ve heard seven different men play acoustic guitar. I’ve heard a man describe his father by saying, “There wasn’t a lot of ball-tossing when I was growing up.” Three times I’ve been queried about how I’m “processing everything,” and at the urinal on Friday night, two men warned me about the upcoming “Anger Ceremony,” which is rumored to be the weekend’s “pièce de résistance.”

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The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding the postwar boom. Those sockless people in Top-Siders, whose ancestors’ names and portraits adorned the walls, were entirely new to me. I made friends with some, but I was not free of a corrosive envy of their habitus of ease and entitlement.

I used to visit one of those friends in the Hamptons, in the 1970s, when the area was about wood-paneled Ford station wagons, not Lamborghinis. There was some money in the family, but not gobs, yet they lived two blocks from the beach—prime real estate. Now, down the road from what used to be their house is the residence of Ira Rennert. It’s one of the largest private homes in the United States. The union-busting, pension-fund-looting Rennert, whose wealth comes from, among other things, chemical companies that are some of the worst polluters in the country, made his first money in the 1980s as a cog in Michael Milken’s junk-bond machine. In 2015, a court ordered him to return $215 million he had appropriated from one of his companies to pay for the house. One-hundred-car garages and twenty-one (or maybe twenty-nine) bedrooms don’t come cheap.

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I slept for a good seven hours on the overnight flight from Spain to Peru, and while I slept I dreamed that I was leading American visitors around a park in Berlin, looking for birds on a hazy, overcast day. There wasn’t much to see until we noticed a distant commotion in the sky. Large raptors were panicking, driven back and forth by something threatening them from above. The commotion moved closer. The clouds parted, an oval aperture backed with blue. In it two seraphim hovered motionless. “Those are angels,” I told the group.

They were between us and the sun, but an easy ­I.D. Size aside, no other European bird has two sets of wings. The upper wings cast their faces into shadow. Despite the glare I could make out their striking peaches-­and-­cream coloration. Ivory white predominates, hair a faint yellow, eyes blue, wings indescribably iridescent. Faces blank and expressionless, as with all birds.

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Last May, the families of students at Cypress Academy, an independent charter school in New Orleans, received an email announcing that the school would close when classes ended the following week and that all its students would be transferred to another nearby charter for the upcoming year. Parents would have the option of entering their children in the city’s charter-enrollment lottery, but the lottery’s first round had already taken place, and the most desirable spots for the fall were filled.

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how high? that high

He had his stick that was used mostly to point at your head if your head wasn’t held up proudly.

I still like that man—Holger! He had been an orphan!

He came up to me once because there was something about how I was moving my feet that wasn’t according to the regulations or his expectations.

The room was a short wide room with a short wide window with plenty of artificial light.

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$1,500

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