Weekly Review — May 29, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: The Cloaca Maxima, 1872]

The Cloaca Maxima, 1872

Congress passed a bill allocating $100 billion for war spending without a timetable for troop withdrawal. CongressionalDemocrats allowed the vote to reach the House and Senate floors despite widespread opposition among their ranks because they didn’t want to go on Memorial Day break while soldiers remained wanting. Ten Democratic senators including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton voted against the bill. “I was very disappointed to see Senator Obama and Senator Clinton embrace the policy of surrender,” said Senator John McCain. “This vote may win favor with MoveOn and liberal primary voters, but it’s the equivalent of waving a white flag to Al Qaeda.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told reporters she would “never vote for such a thing” just before finalizing the bill with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who called the legislation proof of “great progress.” Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin told his Democratic colleagues that he would reluctantly support the measure because “we do not have it within our power to make the will of America the law of the land.”New York TimesReuters via Yahoo! NewsNew York TimesWashington PostNearly a thousand soldiers had been killed in Iraq since last Memorial Day. MSNBCThe body of one of three missing U.S. soldiers was found floating in the Euphrates River,AP via Yahoo! Newsand an Irish soldier who won the Military Cross for single-handedly defeating a Baghdadsuicide bomber was facing a court-martial for auctioning his medal on eBay.Ananova

The Defense Department released a how-to guide recovered from an “Al Qaedatorture chamber” near Baghdad. The manual illustrates interrogation techniques such as “eye removal,” “drilling hands,” and “blowtorch to the skin,” and was found along with whips, wire cutters, pliers, handcuffs, hammers, electric drills, screwdrivers, meat cleavers, and a person suspended from the safe-house ceiling.FOX NewsThe Smoking GunIn Darfur, where Janjaweed leaders, frustrated with promises of land, cattle, and wealth gone undelivered by Khartoum, have joined forces with rebel factions, bandits shot and killed their first U.N. peacekeeper.Christian Science MonitorUSA TodayHamas told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas it would accept a truce with Israel if the IDF halted air attacks in Gaza, and threatened to kill hostage Gilad Shalit should Israel fail to comply.Ha’aretzIsrael and the U.S. provided Abbas with light arms and $84 million to fund Fatah’s power struggle with Hamas, Christian Science Monitorand the Israeli embassy in Washington searched for someone to attend the funeral of Jerry Falwell.Ha’aretzIn the desert of southern Israel a man wrestled and pinned down a leopard after it broke into his bedroom.AP via CBS NewsKosovo Albanians were planning to erect a ten-foot-tall bronze statue of Bill Clinton; Tony Blair was said to be next.TelegraphIn Britain, anonymous sources close to Queen Elizabeth II reported that the monarch was “exasperated and frustrated” with the legacy of the outgoing prime minister; in particular, she was said to be deeply concerned about Blair’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the outlawing of fox hunting.TelegraphA South London artist planned to protest the royal family’s treatment of animals by eating a corgi.AnanovaPresident Bush expressed his continuing support for embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden. “I’ve got confidence in Al Gonzales doin’ the job,” said Bush, as a passing sparrow shit on his sleeve.USA Today

Jack Kevorkian was preparing to leave prison after serving eight years for assisting in the suicide of a Michigan man,AP via Yahoo! Newsand the execution of an overweight prisoner in Ohio was performed 90 minutes behind schedule because medical workers were unable to find a vein for the lethal injection.New York TimesHistoric cemeteries across the United States were attempting to attract new customers through dog parades, jazz concerts, designer mausoleums, and Renaissance faires.New York TimesAn 11-year-old boy had reportedly killed a thousand-pound wild pig after a three-hour, nine-bullet chase through the woods of eastern Alabama. “It’s a good accomplishment,” said the boy. “I probably won’t ever kill anything else that big.”AP via USA TodayDutch television made plans to air “The Big Donor Show,” in which three patients will compete for a dying woman’s kidney.News.com.auAn area of Topeka, Kansas, was shut down after a robot in a headdress was spotted near the Capitol.KWCHIn Bombay, several thousand untouchables converted en masse to Buddhism,BBC Newsand Thunder Ranch, a luxury motel in northern Mexico, was fortifying each of its 35 rooms with steel doors to stop the bullets of skirmishing drug cartels.Reuters via Yahoo! NewsA zoo in Germany hired a clown to cheer up bored monkeys,AnanovaCairo customs officials prevented a smuggler from carrying 700 snakes onto a plane bound for Saudi Arabia,USA Todayand it was revealed that in 2001 in Omaha, Nebraska, a virgin shark gave birth.CNN

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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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