Weekly Review — February 26, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Storks, 1864]

Kosovo, in a move supported by the United States and strongly opposed by Russia, declared its independence from Serbia. NATO sealed Kosovo’s northern border, and Serbians looted designer clothes, shoes, and chocolates, and set fire to the U.S. embassy in Belgrade.ReutersTurkey began a ground invasion into Iraq targeting the PKK, despite protests that the invasion was “a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty,” and Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered a six-month extension of his Mahdi militia’s unilateral cease-fire, which has led to a 60 percent decrease in violence across Iraq.BBCnews.comLA TimesBenazir Bhutto’s party received the most votes in the Pakistani parliamentary election. Calls were made for President Pervez Musharraf to step down after his party performed poorly, and opposition leaders who had been under house arrest since Musharraf declared emergency military rule last November found that their phones had suddenly started working again.New York TimesIn Cuba,Fidel Castro ceded power to his brother Raul through an election in which Raul was the only candidate. “I distrust the seemingly easy path of apologetics,” wrote Castro in his resignation letter, “or its antithesis the self-flagellation.”New York TimesPresident Bush, whose approval rating was at an all-time low of 19 percent, was in Africa, where he said that the United States “is not seeking African bases” when asked about AFRICOM, a U.S. military command program for Africa, and danced with Liberian President and AFRICOM supporter Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. “The president seemed keen to impress the crowd,” said one onlooker, “with his David Brent-style gyrations.”American Research GroupBBCnews.comBelfast TelegraphWomen in Ivory Coast were using creams and injections to enlarge their buttocks in reaction to the craze for the big-bottom dance, or Bobaraba.BBCnews.com

Michelle Obama’s Princeton senior thesis was made public. “Further integration and/or assimilation into a white cultural and social structure,” she wrote, “will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant.” Politico.comThe New York Times published an article insinuating that John McCain had an affair with a lobbyist a decade ago,New York Timesand Congressman Rick Renzi (R., Ariz.), one of McCain’s campaign managers, was indicted for conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, insurance fraud, and extortion, but mostly for using his office to promote a swap of federal land to collect on a debt owed by a former associate.AP via Yahoo NewsThe League of Conservation Voters said that McCain had the worst environmental record of all 535 members of Congress for 2007 and had missed more crucial votes than members who died in the middle of their terms.The TrailTexas surpassed California to become the top producer of wind power, and oil men were cashing in on the boom. “We’re number one in wind in the United States,” said Texas land commissioner Jerry Patterson, “and that will never change.”NY TimesRalph Nader, who is older than John McCain, announced his fifth run for the presidency.Meet the Press

The whistle-blower website Wikileaks.org was removed from the Internet after a Swiss bank obtained an injunction against California Web hosting company Dynadot,BBCnews.comand the Pakistani government caused a global crash of YouTube when it attempted to block the site from its country. “Users are quite upset,” said the convener of the Association of Pakistan Internet Service Providers. “They’re screaming at ISPs which can’t do anything.”BBCnews.comJapan launched an experimental satellite that would provide Internet access speeds of 1.2 gigabytes per second,CNN.comand the United States claimed to have successfully shot down a disabled and toxic spy satellite; China and Russia said the action was actually an excuse to test anti-satellite missile systems.BBCnews.comScientists revealed that the sun will vaporize the earth if we cannot figure out how to change our orbit within 7.6 billion years.Scientific BloggingResearchers were at a loss to explain why suicide rates recently rose sharply for Americans aged 45-54, and it was revealed that the man who killed five Northern Illinois University students and himself had stopped taking Prozac shortly before his death because it “made him feel like a zombie and lazy.”NY TimesNY TimesAccording to a recent U.S. study, men can pass down sperm damage caused by alcohol, cigarettes, and other environmental toxins for up to four generations.BBCnews.comA Moroccan man was sentenced to three years in prison for creating a joke Facebook profile under the name of Prince Moulay Rachid, who is second in line for the country’s throne,BBCnews.comand Robert Somma, a federal bankruptcy judge appointed by President Bush in 2004, resigned from his position after police found that he had crashed his Mercedes into another car while drunk and wearing a dress, fishnet stockings, and heels, and carrying a purse. “He’s a highly respected member of the bar,” said a fellow judge, “and remains so.”BostonHerald.comA man in Swansea, U.K., died from eating too much fairycake.BBCnews.com

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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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