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 donâ??t know when or if something might happen on the Great Lakes, but I donâ??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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Thirty miles from the coast, on a desert plateau in the Judaean Mountains without natural resources or protection, Jerusalem is not a promising site for one of the world’s great cities, which partly explains why it has been burned to the ground twice and besieged or attacked more than seventy times. Much of the Old City that draws millions of tourists and Holy Land pilgrims dates back two thousand years, but the area ­likely served as the seat of the Judaean monarchy a full millennium before that. According to the Bible, King David conquered the Canaanite city and established it as his capital, but over centuries of destruction and rebuilding all traces of that period were lost. In 1867, a British military officer named Charles Warren set out to find the remnants of David’s kingdom. He expected to search below the famed Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, but the Ottoman authorities denied his request to excavate there. Warren decided to dig instead on a slope outside the Old City walls, observing that the Psalms describe Jerusalem as lying in a valley surrounded by hills, not on top of one.

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Eleven years ago, on a bitter January night, dozens of young men, dressed in a uniform of black berets, white T-­shirts, and black pants, gathered on a hill overlooking the Nigerian city of Jos, shouting, dancing, and shooting guns into the black sky. A drummer pounded a rhythmic beat. Amid the roiling crowd, five men crawled toward a candlelit dais, where a white-­robed priest stood holding an axe. Leading them was John, a sophomore at the local college, powerfully built and baby-faced. Over the past six hours, he had been beaten and burned, trampled and taunted. He was exhausted. John looked out at the landscape beyond the priest. It was the harmattan season, when Saharan sand blots out the sky, and the city lights in the distance blurred in John’s eyes as if he were underwater.

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I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t get up—­just couldn’t get up, couldn’t get up or leave. All day lying in that median, unable. Was this misery or joy?

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The Catholic School, by Edoardo Albinati. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1,280 pages. $40.

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