Weekly Review — October 17, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Storks, 1864]

Research by U.S. epidemiologists and Iraqi physicians found that 654,965 Iraqis have died as a result of the Iraq war, though half of households surveyed were unsure of who to blame for the deaths of their family members. President George W. Bush said that he did not consider the study “a credible report.”Johns Hopkins UniversityReutersThe United StatesArmy was planning to maintain current troop levels in Iraq through 2010, and to replace its advertising slogan, “An Army of One,” with a new slogan, “Army Strong.”APInsurgents in Baghdad fired a mortar round at an ammunition dump on a U.S. military base, setting off large explosions that were felt miles away,Army TimesChina Dailyand the judge in Saddam Hussein’s genocide trial once again expelled Hussein from the courtroom; one of Hussein’s co-defendants then called the prosecutors “pimps and traitors” and punched a bailiff. Another defendant declared, “I wish to be executed and finish with this court.”AFP via BreitbartNorth Korea’s Dear Leader Kim Jong Il was said to be at risk of losing his access to McDonald’s hamburgers and Hennessy cognac if sanctions on luxury goods are imposed in response to his country’s recent nuclear testing.All Headline NewsU.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld showed reporters a satellite image of North Korea. “Except for my wife and family,” said Rumsfeld, “that is my favorite photo.”Daily MailCanadian troops in Afghanistan were finding it difficult to destroy forests of ten-foot-tall marijuana plants where the Taliban hide. “That damn marijuana,” said one soldier.Reuters via CNN.comRight-wing columnist Christopher Hitchens confessed that he had eaten a dog.Daily Mirror

Two trains collided while traveling in opposite directions between the French city of Nancy and the grand duchy of Luxembourg, killing six people.AFX via Hemscott.comFloods killed 37 people in Thailand, and Israeli airstrikes in Gaza killed nine people.AFP via Yahoo! NewsAP via CBS NewsLibya announced that it would provide laptop computers for 1.2 million schoolchildren,AP via local6.comand ChineseWal-Mart workers unionized.International Herald TribuneAmericans were claiming political asylum in Britain.Sun OnlineIn China’s Shanxi and Shaanxi Provinces, families with dead sons complained that corpse brides were in short supply.scotsman.comA study suggested that an increasing number of British students are working as prostitutes in order to pay their university tuition,timesonline.co.ukand California researchers found that women dress more fashionably when they are ovulating.ReutersA Vietnamese death-row inmate convicted of possessing heroin worth more than one billion dong had her sentence commuted to life in prison when she was discovered to be pregnant.BBCA Virginia couple were trying to give back their fifteen-year-old adopted son, who turned out to be a sexual predator. “They just told me he was hyperactive,” said the boy’s mother. Washington PostA Pennsylvania woman was arrested for beating her baby’s father with the baby.AP via New York TimesIn Bombay, where the city courts faced a backlog of 16,234,223 cases, police arrested a drunk three-foot-tall man for extorting money from people with a meat cleaver. “Everyone pampered him because he was so small and cute,” said the man’s brother. “But he has brought great misfortune for the family.”Mumbai MirrorMumbai MirrorA Minnesota school principal resigned after shooting two orphaned kittens on school property.AP

In Israel, four doctors were arrested for carrying out illegal, non-consensual medical experiments on their patients;Haaretzthe U.S. Department of Justice accused blacks of suppressing the white vote in Mississippi;New York Timesand Adam Pearlman, the “American Al Qaeda,” was charged with treason, making him the first U.S. citizen so indicted since World War II.CBS NewsDubai’s ruling family was sued for enslaving children as camel jockeys. A family representative argued that the suit was spurious, since Dubai has replaced child camel-jockeys with robots.BBCIndia’s Supreme Court ordered the seizure of 300 macaques who had terrorized bureaucrats and destroyed top-secret defense documents,BBCand the Philippines rejected a plan to help a monkey-infested island by importing monkey-eating eagles.gulfnews.comIn Uganda, a mob armed with spears, machetes, and clubs killed a lioness, mutilated the carcass, and imprisoned the remains.The Monitor via allAfrica.comThousands of villagers in the Indian state of Jharkhand fled their homes in order to avoid a herd of rampaging elephants. “The elephants,” said a forestry official, “are out to avenge.” “They destroy our crops in the field,” complained a farmer. “Sometimes they damage our houses also.” ReutersANI via DailyIndia.comDonkeys were increasingly popular with Mexican farmers.Christian Science Monitor via Arizona Daily StarSwiss researchers in Syria discovered the remains of an extinct species of giant camel, iol.co.zaand a Virginiabiologyteacher was suspended after compelling her students to pose with the bones of a century-old corpse in Pocahontas Cemetery.North Country GazetteWalnut-related crimes were on the rise in the United States,.Appeal-Democratand a pile of jelly left over from a wedding party’s jelly-fight sparked a terrorism alert near Leipzig, Germany.One Bakersfield OnlineMumbai MirrorAn Italian sociologist moved into a cave, where he plans to spend the next three years;BBCtwo Indianapolis morticians ran into a burning building to save three corpses;Metro.co.ukand fish leapt from the ocean near Hawaii in anticipation of an earthquake.local6.com

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The city was not beautiful; no one made that claim for it. At the height of summer, people in suits, shellacked by the sun, moved like harassed insects to avoid the concentrated light. There was a civil war–like fracture in America—the president had said so—but little of it showed in the capital. Everyone was polite and smooth in their exchanges. The corridor between Dupont Circle and Georgetown was like the dream of Yugoslav planners: long blocks of uniform earth-toned buildings that made the classical edifices of the Hill seem the residue of ancestors straining for pedigree. Bunting, starched and perfectly ruffled in red-white-and-blue fans, hung everywhere—from air conditioners, from gutters, from statues of dead revolutionaries. Coming from Berlin, where the manual laborers are white, I felt as though I was entering the heart of a caste civilization. Untouchables in hard hats drilled into sidewalks, carried pylons, and ate lunch from metal boxes, while waiters in restaurants complimented old respectable bobbing heads on how well they were progressing with their rib eyes and iceberg wedges.

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The second-worst thing about cancer chairs is that they are attached to televisions. Someone somewhere is always at war with silence. It’s impossible to read, so I answer email, or watch some cop drama on my computer, or, if it seems unavoidable, explore the lives of my nurses. A trip to Cozumel with old girlfriends, a costume party with political overtones, an advanced degree on the internet: they’re all the same, these lives, which is to say that the nurses tell me nothing, perhaps because amid the din and pain it’s impossible to say anything of substance, or perhaps because they know that nothing is precisely what we both expect. It’s the very currency of the place. Perhaps they are being excruciatingly candid.

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When Demétrio Martins was ready to preach, he pushed a joystick that angled the seat of his wheelchair forward, slowly lifting him to a standing position. Restraints held his body upright. His atrophied right arm lay on an armrest, and with his left hand, he put a microphone to his lips. “Proverbs, chapter fourteen, verse twelve,” he said. “ ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is . . .’ ”

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On December 7, 2016, a drone departed from an Amazon warehouse in the United Kingdom, ascended to an altitude of four hundred feet, and flew to a nearby farm. There it glided down to the front lawn and released from its clutches a small box containing an Amazon streaming device and a bag of popcorn. This was the first successful flight of Prime Air, Amazon’s drone delivery program. If instituted as a regular service, it would slash the costs of “last-mile delivery,” the shortest and most expensive leg of a package’s journey from warehouse to doorstep. Drones don’t get into fender benders, don’t hit rush-hour traffic, and don’t need humans to accompany them, all of which, Amazon says, could enable it to offer thirty-minute delivery for up to 90 percent of domestic shipments while also reducing carbon emissions. After years of testing, Amazon wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration last summer to ask for permission to conduct limited commercial deliveries with its drones, attaching this diagram to show how the system would work. (Amazon insisted that we note that the diagram is not to scale.) Amazon is not the only company working toward such an automated future—­UPS, FedEx, Uber, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have similar programs—­but its plans offer the most detailed vision of what seems to be an impending reality, one in which parce­l-toting drones are a constant presence in the sky, doing much more than just delivering popcorn.

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Every year in Lusk, Wyoming, during the second week of July, locals gather to reenact a day in 1849 when members of a nearby band of Sioux are said to have skinned a white man alive. None of the actors are Native American. The white participants dress up like Indians and redden their skin with body paint made from iron ore.

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