Weekly Review — August 14, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A grasshopper driving a chariot, 1875]

In the midst of a brief thunderstorm that transfixed the New York City subway system and killed one motorist, a tornado formed over the Atlantic Ocean, grazed the north coast of Staten Island, and blew into Brooklyn, felling 292 trees, ripping roofs off dozens of buildings, and displacing 200 people from their homes. New York TimesNY1Losses among lenders to American debtors led to a one-day plunge of 387 points in the Dow Industrial Average. The Federal Reserve injected $62 billion into the market–its largest intervention since September 19, 2001–and its international counterparts followed suit. Hedge funds were in the red. “You have a better chance at making money on the craps table than in this market,” remarked one analyst. New York TimesNew York TimesGermany’s leading regulator warned that the country risked tumbling into its worst financial crisis since the 1930s, Wall Street Journaland the public disclosure of Adolf Hitler’s private record collection indicated that the Fuehrer enjoyed listening to Jewish musicians play Tchaikovsky.GuardianThe discovery of a 1973 document proved that it was Stasi policy to “stop or liquidate” defectors attempting to escape East Germany over the Berlin Wall, especially those accompanied by women and children. ScotsmanChina Public Security, a U.S.-financed company contracted by the People’s Republic, was outfitting the city of Shenzen with 20,000 surveillance cameras and issuing identity cards to record each citizen’s name, address, employment status, education, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical-insurance status, reproductive history, and landlord’s phone number. “If they do not get the permanent card,” said a China Public Security executive, “they cannot live here, they cannot get government benefits, and that is a way for the government to control the population in the future.” New York TimesIt was reported that Rudolph Giuliani’s daughter, Caroline, a member of the Harvard class of 2011, was affiliated with the Facebook.com group “Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack)”; she had recently left the group, but her page maintained that her political views are “Liberal” and that she is single, interested in men, and looking for “Friendship,” “Random play,” or “Whatever I can get.”Slate

Seif al-Islam Qaddafi, son of Muammar Qaddafi, affirmed that recently released Bulgarian and Palestinian medical workers accused of spreading HIV to Libyan babies were tortured while in custody. “Yes,” he said, “they were tortured by electricity, and they were threatened that their family members would be targeted.”Chicago TribuneAnonymous sources told a reporter that purported Al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was told by his American captors, “We’re not going to kill you. But we’re going to take you to the very brink of your death and back.” Sources also said Mohammed was kept naked in his cell, hung by his arms from the ceiling, and flung against the walls by a leash around his neck. Daniel Pearl’s widow and father expressed doubts about the egomaniacal detainee’s claim that he beheaded the Wall Street Journal reporter. New YorkerThe United States denied approving the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s $39.7 million purchase of 105,000 Russian-made assault rifles from the Italian Mafia. A senior official of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, which has backed Shiite death squads in the Shiite-Sunni civil war, said “most” of the Russian guns were meant for its police in the Sunni-majority Anbar province; Iraqi officials also complained that U.S. gun deliveries are slow. Washington PostNominally antiwar Democrats Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards admitted that if elected to the White House they would worry about terrorism launched from a failed Iraqi state, threats to the Kurds, and the prospect of Shiite-on-Sunni genocide, and because of these fears they would continue the occupation of Iraq for a long time.New York Times

A rocket launched from Gaza struck a ranch owned by comatose former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, Israel TodayHank Aaron’s home run record was broken, New Yorkerand three college students were murdered execution-style in a New Jersey playground.IHTAn eight-foot-five-inch Ukrainian, Leonid Stadnyk, was declared the world’s tallest man; locals attributed his size to a brain operation in adolescence, and the penurious Stadnyk lamented that his continuous growth had ended his career as a veterinarian when he became too large to fit into a car and his fingers grew too big for him to press buttons. “Doctors tell me I will live a long life,” he said. “I hope it will be in happiness.”ScotsmanIn India police killed a protester at a riot of flood victims, and the monsoon death toll climbed above 2,000, with many of the fatalities blamed on snakebites. “Everyone is crammed in together,” said an expert, “and the chances of running into snakes, stepping on them, grabbing them, and sleeping on them is much, much more.”Washington PostIHTKarl Rove announced his resignation.The Washington PostA straw poll of IowaRepublicans lent an aura of viability to the presidential candidacies of Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee but caused Tommy Thompson to drop out of the race. New York TimesTeacher Barbara Morgan, Christa McAuliffe’s backup on the ill-fated 1986 Challenger mission, blasted into orbit on board the space shuttleEndeavour, which suffered damage to its heat shield. Kansas City StarFive billion light years from earth, four galaxies violently converged; astronomers predicted that over the next 100 million years they will fuse into a single galaxy ten times larger than the Milky Way. A celestial plume of billions of expelled stars bloomed from the collision. Half of these stars will resettle in the new giant galaxy; the rest are lost in space.BBC

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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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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 . . .’ ”

The congregation finished: “ ‘Death.’ ”

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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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