Weekly Review — March 25, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

As the war in Iraq stretched beyond its fifth year the U.S. death toll rose to 4,000, and a national conference intended to reconcile sectarian groups was boycotted by Sunnis.BBC NewsAssociated PressMSNBCSenator John McCain visited Jordan and told reporters that it was “common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran.” Senator Joe Lieberman was seen whispering into McCain’s ear, after which McCain apologized. “The Iranians are training extremists,” he explained. “Not Al Qaeda.” Later, in Jerusalem, a fistfight among photographers, soldiers, police officers, and tourists erupted at McCain’s Western Wall photo shoot, resulting in damage to several pairs of sunglasses.Washington PostNew York TimesIn response to fury over a handful of remarks made by Reverend Jeremiah Wright over the course of his 36 years as a pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Senator Barack Obama delivered a nuanced and serious speech about race in America. “I think it’s an obligation of any opponent to use this issue,” said Congressman Peter King (R.-NY), “to make Reverend Wright a centerpiece of the campaign.”Washington PostNewsdayThe National Archives released more than 11,000 pages of Senator Hillary Clinton’s daily schedules as first lady, providing proof that she once read If You Give a Moose a Muffin out loud to a group of children.Washington PostScientists concluded that destroying information by throwing it into a black hole was not effective, because the information could leak from the hole at 1,000 bits per second, the same speed as a dial-up Internet connection.Scientific American

The Dalai Lama said that he would resign as the spiritual leader of Tibet if violence in the area escalated. Washington PostFrancisco Duque III, the Philippine Secretary of Health, encouraged Roman Catholic worshippers who planned on flaying the skin off their backs or crucifying themselves on Easter to get a tetanus shot first and to use clean whips and nails. Daily TelegraphMikhail Gorbachev admitted that he is a Christian,The Telegraphand Michael Stipe, lead singer of R.E.M., announced that he is gay. “I thought it was pretty obvious,” said Stipe, who has been explaining that he is not heterosexual for nearly a decade.US WeeklyPlaygirl invited former New York governor Eliot Spitzer to pose nude in its pages; Spitzer’s replacement, David Paterson, became the first black governor of New York and promptly admitted that he had in the past frequented a New York City Days Inn hotel to have sex with “a woman other than my wife.”PlaygirlNew York Daily NewsTheodore Pederson, once an aide to former New Jersey governor James McGreevey, said that for three years he, McGreevey, and Dina Matos (who would later marry McGreevey) would have dinner and drinks at T.G.I. Friday’s and follow that with sex as a threesome. “Friday night specials,” Pederson said, “developed into Saturday mornings.”The Star-LedgerResearchers found that a diet that includes lots of folate will keep sperm healthy.BBC News

The cubicle turned 40, Viagra turned 10, and Hotel Luxor, the oldest whorehouse in Germany’s red light district, announced that it would close for lack of business.TimeYahoo NewsAssociated PressMarvin Richardson, an organic strawberry farmer in Idaho who is challenging Senator Larry Craig for his Senate seat, had his name legally changed to Pro-Life. CBS NewsAn 81-year-old Australian committed suicide by building a robot that shot him four times in the head,Fox Newsand ABBA’s former drummer Ola Brunkert accidentally cut his neck on a piece of shattered glass at his Mallorca home, walked outside, collapsed in his garden, and died. Associated PressHorst Rippert, an 88-year-old former German fighter pilot, told the biographer of Antoine de Saint-Exupery that one of the 28 planes that Rippert gunned down during World War II was piloted by The Little Prince author. “If I had known,” Rippert said, “I wouldn’t have fired.” The ScotsmanPresident George W. Bush spoke with soldiers in Afghanistan. “I’m a little envious,” he said via a remote video link. “It must be exciting for youâ??in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger.”ReutersAn elderly German woman filed a lawsuit against a hospital in Bavaria after she checked in for a leg operation and was instead given a new anus.Fox NewsA study concluded that 95 percent of all Native Americans in North, Central, and South America descended from six “founding mothers” who lived 20,000 years ago;E Newsresearchers discovered a hidden ocean underneath the crust of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon;Scientific Americanand a NASA probe revealed that Mars may be covered in table salt.BBC NewsIt was reported that Petra, the German black swan who fell in love with a swan-shaped paddleboat two years ago, has moved on to a new relationship with a live white swan. The two are now building a nest together.Cnews

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It has become something of a commonplace to say that Mike Pence belongs to another era. He is a politician whom the New York Times has called a “throwback,” a “conservative proudly out of sync with his times,” and a “dangerous anachronism,” a man whose social policies and outspoken Christian faith are so redolent of the previous century’s culture wars that he appeared to have no future until, in the words of one journalist, he was plucked “off the political garbage heap” by Donald Trump and given new life. Pence’s rise to the vice presidency was not merely a personal advancement; it marked the return of religion and ideology to American politics at a time when the titles of political analyses were proclaiming the Twilight of Social Conservatism (2015) and the End of White Christian America (2016). It revealed the furious persistence of the religious right, an entity whose final demise was for so long considered imminent that even as white evangelicals came out in droves to support the Trump-Pence ticket, their enthusiasm was dismissed, in the Washington Post, as the movement’s “last spastic breath.”

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Just after dawn in Lhamo, a small town on the northeastern corner of the Tibetan Plateau, horns summon the monks of Serti Monastery to prayer. Juniper incense smolders in the temple’s courtyard as monks begin arriving in huddled groups. Some walk the kora, a clockwise circumambulation around the building. Others hustle toward the main door, which sits just inside a porch decorated in bright thangka paintings. A pile of fur boots accumulates outside. When the last monks have arrived, the horn blowers leaning out of the second-floor windows retire indoors.

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As he approached his death in 1987, the photographer Peter Hujar was all but unknown, with a murky reputation and a tiny, if elite, cult following. Slowly circling down what was then the hopeless spiral of ­AIDS, Peter had ceaselessly debated one decision, which he reached only with difficulty, and only when the end drew near. He was in a hospital bed when he made his will that summer, naming me the executor of his entire artistic estate—and also its sole owner.

The move transformed my life and induced a seething fury in lots of decent people. I can see why. Peter did not make me his heir for any of the usual reasons. I was a good and trusted friend, but he had scads of those. I was not the first person he considered for the job, nor was I the most qualified. In fact, I was a rank amateur, and my understanding of his art was limited. I knew his photographs were stunning, often upsetting, unpredictably beautiful, distinctively his. I also knew they were under­rated and neglected. But I did not then really grasp his achievement.

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The truth—that thing I thought I was telling.—John Ashbery To start with the facts: the chapter in my book White Sands called “Pilgrimage” is about a visit to the house where the philosopher Theodor Adorno lived in Los Angeles during the Second World War. It takes its title from the story of that name by Susan Sontag (recently republished in Debriefing: Collected Stories) about a visit she and her friend Merrill made to the house of Adorno’s fellow German exile Thomas Mann in the Pacific Palisades, in 1947, when she was fourteen. It seemed strange that the story was originally …
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