Weekly Review — June 26, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

Saddam Hussein’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majeed, also known as “Chemical Ali,” was sentenced to death for his role in Iraq’s Kurdish genocide.Reuters CanadaHamas militants released an audio recording of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in which he states, “I am sorry that the Israeli government has not shown more interest. It should meet the demands of my kidnappers so I can be released.”BBCSeven children were killed during a coalition-led airstrike in Afghanistan,.NYTand the Gaza kidnappers of Britishjournalist Alan Johnston released a video of Johnston wearing an explosives vest, which he says will be detonated if force is used to try to free him.BBCIn North Korea, 110 people foraging for gasoline were killed in an explosion at a fuel pipeline,Al Jazeeraand the North Korean government announced it would begin dismantling its nuclear program after the U.S. Treasury unfroze certain bank accounts in Macau.BloombergA Marine Corps memo, circulated after the 2005 Haditha massacre, was made public. “‘Fighting terrorists associated with Al Qaida’ is stronger language than ‘serving’,” read the memo. “The American people will side more with someone actively fighting a terrorist organization that is tied to 9/11 than with someone who is idly ‘serving,’ like in a way one ‘serves’ a casserole.”NYTIt was reported that despite the U.S. “surge,” the black-market prices in Iraq for weapons and ammunition have remained stable, indicating the failure of supposedly strengthened checkpoints. TimeThe military was concerned about a marked drop in the number of African-American recruits since the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars; “We just want to make sure,” said Marine Commandant General James Conway, “that we continue to look like America.”ABC News

Scientists called Europe’swinter of 2006 – 2007 the warmest in 700 years. New ScientistFlooding in Karachi, Pakistan, left 200 people dead and 1,000 homes destroyed,BBCand a five-acre glacial lake in the Andesvanished.AP via CNNTuna shortages were forcing Japanese chefs to consider deer and horse meat as substitutes for sushi.NYTJapan rechristened the island of Iwo Jima, made famous by World War II, with its prewar name of Iwo To.AP via CNNAuthorities in New Zealand prevented a couple from naming their baby “4real” because the name included a numeral.AP via CNNThe South African education department announced that male students may be granted paternity leave,IOL/Cape Timesand Lydia Playfoot, a 16-year-old English schoolgirl, went to the High Court to protest her school’s ban on wearing “purity rings” (used to symbolize chastity), which she characterized as discrimination against Christians.BBCNewsResearchers announced that firstborn children develop higher I.Q.s than their younger siblings,NYTand a two-year-old English girl with an I.Q. of 152 joined Mensa.AFP via YahooOne and a half million Thomas the Tank Engine toys produced in China were recalled after they were found to contain lead paint.IHTThe actress Cameron Diaz apologized for carrying a bag printed with a Maoist political slogan when she visited Peru, where up to 69,000 people died in a decade-long war between the government and Maoist rebels.BBCA study found that paying taxes activates pleasure-centers in the brain.NYTZimbabwe’s rate of inflation reached 11,000 percent and was predicted to approach 1.5 million percent by the end of the year.Guardian

The Australian government announced a ban on alcohol and pornography for Aborigines,Forbesand the Swedish government recognized that one man’s preference for heavy metal music constitutes a disability, making the man eligible for state benefits.The LocalA District of Columbia judge ruled in favor of a Washington dry cleaner in a $54 million case brought over a missing pair of pants. The plaintiff, himself an administrative law judge, was ordered to pay the dry cleaner’s court fees.AP via YahooA study found that Facebook users are wealthier and better educated than their MySpace counterparts,BBCa Minnesota man was fined $3,000 for putting dog feces in a parking ticket envelope,AP via Philly.comand in Idaho, a black Labrador drove his owner’s Chevy Impala into a river.AP via Philly.comAn eight-year-old two-headed hermaphrodite albino rat-snake named “We” died of natural causes at the City Museum in St. Louis,St. Louis Post Dispatchand Six Flags closed eight thrill rides across the country after a teenage girl in Kentucky had her feet severed on the Superman Tower of Power.AP via Wave3 Louisville, KY

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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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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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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.

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