Weekly Review — July 11, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

North Korea launched six rockets over the Sea of Japan, including a Taepodong-2 intercontinental ballistic missile, which apparently was aborted after just 40 seconds. One thing we have learned, said President George W. Bush, who strongly dislikes North Korea’s Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, “is that the rocket didn’t stay up very long.” The president, who expressed annoyance when a reporter pointed out that Kim Jong Il had on all accounts increased his nuclear potency since Bush took office, claimed that his antimissile system, which has failed repeated tests, had a “reasonable chance” of intercepting the Taepodong.New York TimesIndia tested its long-range nuclear-capableballistic missile, the Agni-III, in the Bay of Bengal. That test also failed.San Francisco ChronicleNew York TimesGuardianAirliners crashed in Russia and Pakistan, killing hundreds, andAssociated Pressa British military report concluded that Trident nuclear missiles, which are regularly transported on public highways in the United States and Britain, are vulnerable to terrorist attacks or even severe traffic accidents that could trigger a nuclear explosion.New ScientistIsrael continued its push into Gaza in search of an abducted soldier. “We want to use an iron fist,” said Isaac Herzog, a Labor Party minister, “but cautiously, with a lot of consideration.” Palestinians, who did not cease to fire missiles into Israel, were busy counting their dead.International Herald TribuneNew research confirmed that smoking and obesity increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.New York TimesReutersU.S.tax revenue was up.New York Times

The Iraqi civil war continued to escalate as Shiite militiamen invaded a Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad and executed at least 36 young men, apparently in response to the bombing of a Shiite mosque; later that day, two car bombs exploded next to another Shiite mosque, killing 19 and wounding 59. Los Angeles TimesSaddam Hussein’slawyers decided to boycott their client’s trial,Reutersand Iraqi prime minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki denounced the immunity of American soldiers in Iraq in connection with the rape and murder of a teenage girl and three of her relatives, including another child. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said that there was no apparent connection between the rape-and-murder case and the killings of two soldiers from the unit under investigation.Detroit Free Press“I’m going to make you this promise,” President George W. Bushtold a crowd of soldiers in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, “I’m not going to allow the sacrifice of 2,527 troops who have died in Iraq to be in vain by pulling out before the job is done.”New York TimesPresident Bush also said that he was “willing to abide by the ruling of the Supreme Court” in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which held that the administration’s scheme to try prisoners at Guantánamo in military tribunals is illegal. “It didn’t say we couldn’t have doneâ??couldn’t have made that decision, see?” Bush added. “They were silent on whether or not Guantánamoâ??whether we should have used Guantánamo. In other words, they accepted the use of Guantánamo, the decision I made.”New York TimesFive more American soldiers were charged in the Iraqirape-and-murder case;ABC Newsan Army reserve colonel offered to plead guilty to charges that he engaged in bribery, conspiracy, and money laundering while he was stationed in Iraq;New York Timesand it was reported that SenatorOrrin Hatch intervened to get a record producer out of a Dubai jail after he was sentenced to four years for possession of cocaine.New York TimesThe FBI and the Department of Homeland Security claimed to have foiled a plot by foreign terrorists, in Lebanon, to bomb the Holland Tunnel in New York,Washington Postand three people were arrested for plotting to sell Coca-Cola secrets to PepsiCo.Voice of AmericaPresident Bush denied that the closing of the CIA’sBin Laden unit was significant. “We got a lot of assets looking for Osama bin Laden,” he said. “It’s a matter of time, unless we stop looking.”ReutersProsecutors declined to press charges against Rush Limbaugh for possession of Viagra.Associated PressKen Lay died.Houston Chronicle

A megachurch called the World Overcomers congregation in Memphis, Tennessee, unveiled a 72-foot-tall replica of the Statue of Liberty (with the Ten Commandments under one arm, a tear on her cheek, and “Jehovah” inscribed on her crown) holding a cross of gold.New York TimesFelipe Calderon, the candidate of Mexico’s conservative National Action Party, was apparently elected president, though Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist mayor of Mexico City, refused to concede and demanded a complete recount.Washington PostItaly won the World Cup after France’s Zinedine Zidane was ejected from the game for head-butting Marco Materazzi,Associated Pressand an Italian judge ruled that former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi should stand trial for fraud.BBCThe prime minister of Spain snubbed the pope,Times Onlineand a sheikh in Mogadishu said that Muslims who do not pray five times a day should be put to death.ReutersA United Nations official in Sudan lamented that violence in Darfur has gotten worse since the signing of a recent peace accord.Associated PressIt was reported that Melinda Gates is more comfortable than her husband Bill when it comes to holding AIDS babies in Africa or talking to male prostitutes in India.New York TimesThe world’s oldest crow died in Bearsville, New York,Associated Pressand astronomers observed what they said might be a strange glowing blob of dark matter sucking in gas.New ScientistThe high courts of Georgia and New York both upheld bans on gaymarriage.ForbesPoland’s president appointed his twin brother to serve as prime minister.BloombergPresident Vladimir Putin of Russia explained that he had recently kissed a young boy on the stomach because he “wanted to stroke him like a cat.”Agence France-Presse

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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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Reflections on harm in language and the trouble with Whitman

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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.

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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