Weekly Review — March 4, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Responding to rocket attacks on Ashkelon, once the largest seaport of Canaan, Israel sent tanks, troops, and fighter jets to northern Gaza. Fifty-four Palestiniansâ??eight of them children and sixteen of them militantsâ??and two Israeli soldiers died in one day of fighting; Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said that the Palestinians were risking a “shoah,” the Hebrew word for “big disaster.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas described Israeli raids as “more than a holocaust” and, as the number of Palestinian dead rose to about 100, suspended contact with Israel.BBC NewsWikipediaBBC NewsBBC NewsThe U.S. Navy fired missiles into southern Somalia, targeting what the Pentagon called a “known Al Qaedaterrorist,”New York Timesand a man who calls himself “Osama bin London” was convicted of running terrorist training camps in England.Washington PostAn earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale struck England and Wales, with its epicenter in Market Rasen; the event caused one couple, Rob Wilkinson, 19, and Charlotte Green, 17, to momentarily think that their lovemaking was special. “Did the earth,” Rob reportedly asked, “just move for you, darling?”The SunStorms killed eight people across Europe; gusts blew one elderly man into the path of a lorry.AFPA Virginia task force identified hardcore child pornography on 20,000 computers across the state,FairFax Timesand a report found that one in 100 American adults was in prison or jail.New York Times

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his first state visit to Iraq and assailed the Bush Administration. “They will have to accept the facts in the area,” he said. “The Iraqi people do not like the Americans.”The HinduNew York TimesWhite House aide Timothy Goeglein, a liaison to conservatives and Christian groups, was found to have plagiarized 20 of the 38 columns he wrote for the Fort Wayne, Indiana, News-Sentinel,APand a Belgian woman now living in Massachusetts apologized for fabricating her memoir, Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years; researchers examining her story discovered that she is not Jewish and that she was not, as a child, adopted by a pack of wolves that accompanied her across Europe as she searched for her parents.CNN.comQuestions arose as to whether John McCain, born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936, was a “natural-born citizen” and thus constitutionally eligible for the presidency. McCain held a casual barbecue for the press, cooking Costco ribs on a low heat with a dry rub of equal parts salt, pepper, and garlic powder. For dessert the press ate brownies and cookies.New York TimesThe Washinton PostWilliam F. Buckley Jr. and didgeridoo master Alan Dargin died.The Post ChronicleThe Sydney Morning HeraldBritish researchers hypothesized that a form of spongiform encephalopathyâ??akin to mad cow disease and transmitted by cannibalismâ??killed off the Neanderthals,Space.comDiscovery.comand Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, speaking before Congress following the recall of 143 million pounds of beef packed at the Westland/Hallmark plant in Chino, California, refused to support an outright ban on processing “downer” cows for food, even though such cows are by definition too weak or sick to stand.Washington PostThe World Health Organization announced that virtually untreatable drug-resistant tuberculosis could now be found in 45 countries with a half-million new cases each year, and that the highest rate of infection was in Baku, Azerbaijan.World Health Organization

Prince Harry of Wales, once photographed dressed as a Nazi, was called home after press accounts revealed that he was serving as a BritishArmy forward air controller in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. “We ask God to enable our beloved brothers in Taliban to seize this priceless booty,” wrote user Sweeping Army on an Internet jihadist message board, “because nothing would break the heart of his grandmother [more] than if she lost him. My dear brothers in Allah, carry on provoking to kidnap this precious infidel.”The GuardianAllison, a sea turtle missing three limbs who lives at a Texas turtle sanctuary, was to be fitted with a prosthetic flipper. “The problem,” explained a curator for the sanctuary, “is she doesn’t swim very well.” PhysOrg.comThe United Technologies Corporation bid $3 billion for voting-machine manufacturer Diebold.New York TimesNASA announced that it would fire thousands of contractors; the space agency also found itself unable to explain the mysterious force that has caused five different probes to accelerate or decelerate unpredictably as they flew around the earth.ITWire.comJapanese scientists studying the path of space debris over the last four billion years postulated an undiscovered “Planet X,” between 30 and 70 percent the size of Earth, at the edges of the solar system,Yahoo! Newsand two teams of physicists, one in Calgary and the other in Tokyo, successfully stored nothing within a gas, in the form of squeezed vacuum composed of uncertainty. They then retrieved the nothing.Science Magazine

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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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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.

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Reflections on harm in language and the trouble with Whitman

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Constitution in Crisis·

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America’s Constitution was once celebrated as a radical and successful blueprint for democratic governance, a model for fledgling republics across the world. But decades of political gridlock, electoral corruption, and dysfunction in our system of government have forced scholars, activists, and citizens to question the document’s ability to address the thorniest issues of modern ­political life.

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Life after Life·

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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

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