Weekly Review — October 24, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

President George W. Bush signed the Military Commissions Act, which suspends the right of habeas corpus for terrorism suspects and grants immunity to CIA interrogators and government officials, such as President Bush, for violations of the War Crimes Act. New York TimesChicago Sun-TimesDomestic security officials notified seven football stadiums of a discredited threat of radiological bomb attacks out of an “abundance of caution,” New York Timesand the United States Coast Guard announced plans to mount 7.62 mm, M-240B machine guns on official boats in the Great Lakes. Rear Adm. John E. Crowley Jr. said, “I don??t know when or if something might happen on the Great Lakes, but I don??t want to learn the hard way.” New York TimesFurry crabs were found in Chesapeake Bay. Christian Science Monitor via YahooThe mid-month tally for U.S. troops killed in Iraq was 79, making October the deadliest month this year for American soldiers. AP via WBOCThe first Eskimo was killed in the Iraq war; it took 20 men a full day to dig his grave through the permafrost in a town 350 miles north of the Arctic Circle. New York TimesThe Maine National Guard has been offering “Flat Daddies” and “Flat Mommies,” life-size cardboard cutouts of deployed service members, to spouses, children, and relatives waiting for them to return. Boston GlobeA Gypsy pressure group filed suit to stop British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest film from being shown in Germany. The group accuses him of antiziganism, or hostility to gypsies; Cohen’s fictional alter-ego Borat claimed that Gypsies had molested his horse. Reuters via YahooWikipediaDuring a debate with his Democratic rival, Senator Conrad Burns of Montana said that President Bush (who this week compared Iraq to Vietnam) has a secret plan for winning the war, but that Bush is not going to share his plan with the world.Billings GazetteFTWhite House press secretary Tony Snow compared the President to “one of those guys at the gym who plays about 40 chessboards at once.”New York Times

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan collapsed from fasting during Ramadan. His security staff rushed him unconscious to the hospital and accidentally locked him in his car; they fought for ten minutes to break the car’s reinforced windows with a sledgehammer and chisel. AFP via New York TimesA Denver woman was ruled criminally insane for stabbing her 21-month-old granddaughter 62 times with a butcher knife after she received “spiritual messages from the geese flying overhead.”Denver PostA convicted killer on Texasdeath row committed suicide 15 hours before he was supposed to die by lethal injection by slitting his jugular vein with a makeshift blade; prison authorities found the message “I didn’t do it” smeared in blood on the walls of his cell. AP via MSNBCAn Ohio cult leader who shot and killed a family of five as they stood in a pit dug inside his barn contested his upcoming lethal injection on the grounds that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment to execute a fat man. Reuters via New York TimesCNNCoca-Cola announced plans to market a new calorie-burning green tea beverage called Enviga,NBCand the mayor of Paris auctioned off City Hall’s most expensive wines in favor of serving “little democratic wines.” IHT via New York TimesIn Panama, 22 people died from ingesting poisoned cough syrup that contained the industrial chemical diethylene glycol, rather than the safe solvent glycerin glycol.New York TimesMore than 4,500 tons of polluted material, residue from the toxic sludge dumped in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in August, have been collected since a clean-up effort began in September. AFP via KeepMediaScientists identified more than 200 oceanic dead zones. local6.comThe king of Spain denied that he had shot and killed a drunken bear.IHT via New York Times

Las Vegas magnate Steve Wynn elbowed a hole through Picasso’s “Le Reve,” a painting he had just sold for a record $139 million. BBCTwo subway trains collided at a station in Rome, killing one person and injuring more than 100.AP via YahooIn Sri Lanka, Tamil rebels drove a truck full of explosives into a convoy of military buses, killing 92 sailors. AP via NewsdayNearly four months after the arraignment of PFC Steven D. Green, eight other soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division faced courts-martial in Kentucky for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her family in March. New York TimesIn New York a developmentally disabled handyman was hospitalized after two teenagers sodomized him at a bowling alley with a plumbing snake,.WNBCand a Catholic priest acknowledged having had an intimate, two-year relationship with Mark Foley when the now-disgraced Republicancongressman was a twelve-year-old altar boy. Washington PostAn exhibit at the Oslo Natural History Museum displayed homosexual behavior among giraffes, penguins, parrots, beetles, and whales. Radical Christian critics said organizers of the exhibition should “burn in hell.” Reuters via ABC NewsChina insisted that the U.N. request, rather than require, countries to inspect North Korean cargo. An American expert called the sanctions “kabuki theater,” and North Korea called them a “declaration of war.” New York TimesIn South Korea, where scientists announced the development of a new genetically altered strain of adenovirus capable of destroying cancer cells,AFP via Breitbartthe government warned that North Korea might be preparing to conduct a second nuclear test. FTThe Boy Scouts introduced a new merit badge for learning how copyright law applies to pirated movies and music. SFGateIn New York City, CBGB closed, but the Russian Tea Room will reopen. AP via USA TodayNew York TimesScotland Yard and the British Home Office misplaced two “extremely dangerous” terrorism suspects. One escaped from a secure psychiatric unit, and neither can be named for legal reasons. Guardian onlineThe U.S. Postal Service announced that it would phase out 23,000 stamp vending machines by 2010. AP via New York TimesA Massachusettselementary schoolbannedtag.CBS News

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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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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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At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

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