Weekly Review — April 18, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

Iran announced that it had successfully produced low-grade enriched uranium; to celebrate, men in traditional dress danced with uranium samples.Reuters via Yahoo! NewsThe Iranian government also promised to give $50 million to the Palestinian Authority, now controlled by Hamas, which let it be known that it would recognize Israel’s right to exist if the Jewish state were to withdraw from the entire West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. CNN.comDemocracy Now!A suicide bomber killed nine people at a falafel restaurant in Tel Aviv,The New York Timesand in Sri Lanka bomb attacks by Tamil rebels killed 16 people.BBC NewsAt least five U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq, and a car bombing in Baquba killed 27 people.The New York TimesXinhua.netSome Iraqis were changing their names to avoid being identified as either Sunni or Shiite. “[I] don’t want my children to die,” said the Shiite father of Ali, Hassan, and Fatima, “just because of their names.”Reuters via Yahoo! NewsClose to 65,000 Iraqis had fled their homes to avoid sectarian violence,BBC Newsand six former U.S. generals called for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign.The AgeIt was reported that Rumsfeld was “personally involved” in the torture of Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohamed al-Qahtani, who was made to perform “dog tricks”; Rumsfeld was allegedly briefed on the progress of al-Qahtani’s interrogations by phone.The AgeVice President Dick Cheney, who will receive a $1.9 million refund on his 2005 taxes, was booed at a Washington Nationals baseball game, where he threw out the first pitch. “I have never, ever,” said one fan, “heard anyone get booed like that man.”The Washington TimesThe Mercury NewsPeace activist William Sloane Coffin The Seattle Timesand author Muriel Spark died,The Heraldand Tiger Woods apologized for calling himself a spaz.Reuters via Yahoo! News

Officials in Afghanistan said that 41 Taliban and six police officers had been killed in fighting in the Helmand province; a Taliban spokesman claimed 15 Afghan police and one Taliban were killed.Al JazeeraIt was revealed that the U.S. military had mounted a propaganda campaign, targeting Iraq and the United States, intended to make Abu Muab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian leader (or possibly former leader) of Al Qaeda in Iraq, appear more powerful than he is. One document describing the campaign was called “Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response.”The Washington PostA poll found that 63 percent of Americans were “absolutely certain” of the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.The Washington PostOther polls found: that 55 percent of Americans want a Massachusetts-style health care law;ABC Newsthat 52 percent of Americans would give up some tax deductions for a simpler tax code;Asbury Park Pressthat 51 percent of Americans oppose gay marriage (the same percentage that thinks illegal immigrants mostly contribute to American society);HoustonVoice.comTimes-Heraldand that 46 percent of Americans use profanity more than twice a week.TMCNetFurther polls found that 90 percent of Americans believe their peers are too fat, but only 40 percent believe they are too fat themselves,The Sydney Morning Heraldand that nearly three quarters of 10- to 13-year-old Americans like quesadillas.SFGate.comSixty-two percent of Mexicans polled agreed that the United States is wealthy because it exploits others.El Universal Online

An audit found that FEMA misspent at least $1 billion in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,Democracy Now!and theater programs for the deaf, operating on a shoestring, were trying to figure out who in Congress cut their $2 million in federal funding in December 2004.The New York TimesIn Italy, Bernardo Provenzano, also called The Tractor, the alleged head of the Italian mafia, was arrested near Corleone in Sicily.BBC NewsPrime Minister Silvio Berlusconi refused to admit that he had lost his seat to Romano Prodi; Prodi urged Berlusconi to admit defeat.BBC NewsRoger Toussaint, the head of the Transport Workers Union in New York City, was sentenced to 10 days in jail for leading a transit strike in December 2005.NewsdayIn Athens, Georgia, several agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms briefly detained a University of Georgia student who was dressed as a ninja. “Seeing someone with something across the face,” said a special agent, “from a federal standpointâ??that’s not right.” The student said he was leaving a pirate vs. ninja event.RedAndBlack.comIn London, a woman’s skeletal remains were found two years after her death, propped in front of a still-on TV. “I did notice a kind of rotten smell,” said a neighbor, “but the bins downstairs are strong and the stairwells smell with junkies.” BBC NewsFormer Illinois Governor George Ryan was convicted of racketeering,and in Purcell, Oklahoma, a man named Kevin Ray Underwood was arrested for killing a 10-year-old girl named Jamie Rose Bolin. “I chopped her up,” he told police. “Regarding a potential motive,” said a police chief, “this appears to have been part of a plan to kidnap a person, rape them, torture them, kill them, cut off their head, drain the body of blood, rape the corpse, eat the corpse, then dispose of the organs and bones.” The police also announced that they had removed skewers and a meat tenderizer from Underwood’s apartment.Winston-Salem JournalResearchers in Africa discovered a catfish that stretches out of the water to eat land animals,NaturePrince Albert of Monaco reached the North Pole,BBC Newsand scientists in Britainfound that human fetuses cannot feel pain.BBC News

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That year, the year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. I’d found the place just as September’s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole I’d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.

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I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she still is, that girl on the screen: hair that tangles, freckles across her nose that in time will spread across one side of her forehead. A body that can throw a baseball the way her father has shown her. A body in which bones and hormones lie in wait, ready to bloom into the wide hips her mother has given her. A body that has scars: the scars over her lungs and heart from the scalpel that saved her when she was a baby, the invisible scars left by a man who touched her when she was young. A body is a record or a body is freedom or a body is a battleground. Already, at eight, she knows it to be all three.

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No, she thinks. They have allowed her to be a boy.

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The writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes lives in a nondescript modern building in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris. I know it well: it has a Bricorama—like a French Home Depot—on the ground floor, where we sometimes had cause to shop back when we lived in the neighborhood. The people who work there seemed to hate their jobs more than most; they were often absent from the sales floor. In the elevator to Despentes’s apartment, I marvel that while I was trying to get someone to help me find bathroom grout she was right upstairs, with her partner, Tania, a Spanish tattoo artist who goes by the name La Rata, like someone out of one of Despentes’s novels.

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That night at the window, looking out at the street full of snow, big flakes falling through the streetlight, I listened to what Anna was saying. She was speaking of a man named Karl. We both knew him as a casual acquaintance—thin and lanky like Ichabod Crane, with long hair—operating a restaurant down in the village whimsically called the Gist Mill, with wood paneling, a large painting of an old gristmill on a river on one wall, tin ceilings, and a row of teller cages from its previous life as a bank. Karl used to run along the river, starting at his apartment in town and turning back about two miles down the path. He had been going through the divorce—this was a couple of years ago, of course, Anna said—and was trying to run through his pain.

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