Weekly Review — September 4, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Babylonian lion, 1875]

President George W. Bush predicted a “nuclear holocaust” if Iran develops weapons of mass destruction and accused the country of undertaking “murderous activities in Iraq”; Iran’s foreign minister described Bush’s comments as a sign of “political despair” caused by “a serious problem in creating propaganda for the next election.” BBCBBCBreitbart.com via Drudgereport.comBush announced his intention to found a “fantastic Freedom Institute” after he leaves office,NY Timesand two brothers survived in a collapsed Beijing coal mine for five days by eating coal and drinking their own urine. “You can only take small sips,” said Meng Xianchen, “and when you’ve finished, you just want to cry.”BBCSouth Korea was scandalized by resume cheats. “Before, we struggled more with fake luxury goods,” said Moon Moo-il, a prosecutor who combats credentials fraud. “Now that we have entered the knowledge-based society, we have to deal with an overflow of fake knowledge.” NY TimesThe Ugandan Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality called on the government to uphold its laws against gays and lesbians,BBCand Kenya’s Anglican archbishop consecrated two homophobic American priests as bishops at a ceremony in Nairobi.NY TimesIndia’s Khasi tribespeople announced that they would honor Al Gore’s cinematic excellence at a “People’s Parliament” held in a sacred forest,BBCNubian militants in Sudan were organizing efforts “to get rid of the Arabs,” Los Angeles Timesand guitar player Bo Diddley suffered a heart attack.BBC

Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo marked the second anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster by suggesting that the “gravy train” of “so-called ‘recovery'” should leave “the New Orleans station,”The Hill via Drudgereport.comand U.S. Representative Jon Porter (R., Nev.) warned that premature evacuation from Iraq would cause American gas prices to rise.ReviewJournal.com via Drudgereport.comGay marriage was legal in Iowa for four hours,NY TimesU.S. Senator Larry Craig (R., Idaho) insisted that he was “not gay” and had not ever “been gay,”NY Timesand the Alton, Texas, chief of police was arrested for making “unwelcomed” sexual advances toward two male employees.KGBTV.com via Nerve.comPrincess Diana had been dead for ten years.NY TimesTony Snow resigned as White House press secretary because the pay was too low,BloombergHomeland Security chief Michael Chertoff vowed to make employers who hire illegal immigrants “unhappy,”Washington Postand polling revealed that Democrats despise President Bush more than any other executive in history. “No one,” said Gary C. Jacobson, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, “comes close.”NY TimesCity officials in Houston, Texas, were investigating a “Ghetto Handbook” distributed by the local police to its officers. The booklet, subtitled “Wucha dun did now?” contained, among other items, a glossary that would enable the police to communicate “as if you just came out of the hood.” Terms defined in the glossary included “foty” for a 40-ounce bottle of beer; “aks” for “to ask a question”; and “hoodrat” for “a scummy girl.”Houston ChronicleAtlanta’s city council debated whether or not to outlaw baggy pants,Atlanta Journal ConstitutionNASA announced that none of its astronauts were guilty of flying a spacecraft while drunk, CNNand officials in Tarrytown, New York, installed suicide-prevention telephones on the Tappan Zee bridge.WCBSTVScientists in Louisiana determined that some obese people may be infected with a fat virus.MSNBC.com

A vegetable grower in Fresno, California, recalled 8,000 cartons of salmonella-tainted spinach,Washington PostWest Nile virus was discovered in Vermont,Rutland Heraldand a federal judge upheld New York City’s prohibition on metal baseball bats.NY TimesAnother elementary schoolâ??this one in Colorado Springs, Coloradoâ??banned tag.My Way NewsChina declared its one-child policy an environmental weapon in the fight against global warming,Alertnet.organd a wild male elephant burgled a circus in eastern India, making off with an attractive female elephant.Yahoo News via Nerve.comU.S. transportation horticulturalists were seeding the nation’s roadsides with asters, amsonia, and flowering white thoroughwort, among other wildflowers. NY TimesDeceased real estate mogul Leona Helmsley left a $12 million bequest to her dog, a small white Maltese named Trouble;New York Daily Newsreality-show personality Nicole Richie was released from jail in Los Angeles after serving 82 minutes for drunk driving.My Way NewsJohn Ashbery was named the poet laureate of MTV.NY Times

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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.

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Out of sight on Leros, the island of the damned

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About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.
—Chaucer

I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

A solid-gold toilet named “America” was stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire, England.

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