Weekly Review — April 8, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Storks, 1864]

The United States marked the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. “He was normal as a person could be,” said his sister Christine King Farris. “I want people not to think of him as some mythic character from out of space.” Speaking from the Memphis hotel, now a museum, where King was shot, John McCain was booed after describing how he had voted against creating a federal holiday in King’s honor, and Hillary Clinton, speaking from the church where King delivered his last sermon, called for the creation of a poverty czar.CNN.comKUTV.comNY TimesThe Clintons released thirty years of tax returns, showing they had earned more than $109 million since the year 2000; Bill Clinton said that Hillary was “in tears” when he called to say that $250,000 had been raised for her at a Pennsylvania event.NY TimesThe Times TribuneThe United Nations found that women make up 70 percent of the world’s poor, own only 1 percent of the world’s titled land, and are discriminated against in almost every country.BBCnews.comOregon was holding a health insurance lottery for the state’s 600,000 uninsured citizens,BBCnews.comangry Americans boycotted Absolut vodka after the company ran an ad showing much of the western United States as part of Mexico,MSNBC.comand DNA found in ancient feces indicated that people lived in the United States much earlier than previously thought.ReutersUtah-based Internet provider OnSat Network Communications was preparing to shut off service for the entire Navajo Nation,CNN.comand foreclosures were forcing Americans out of their mansions. “People had in their head, ‘I need a mud room, I need giant columns, I need a media room,'” said a Virginia real estate researcher, “‘and I’m going to do anything to get it.'”Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin crashed a gala on the last day of the NATO summit in Bucharest. “Let’s be friends, guys,” he said.Washington PostPresident George W. Bush snuck out early from a summit meeting on operations in Afghanistan,.Washington Post.comand it was reported that more than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen had abandoned their posts during the Basra siege last week.NY TimesDeaths of Iraqis were up 50 percent across the country compared to the previous month.BBCnew.comSecretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she believed peace in the Middle East will come about before President Bush leaves office in January.BBCnew.comDoctors in Al-Anbar province connected a deadly malarial infection to Blackwater, whose contract the U.S. State Department recently renewed and who are currently under investigation by the FBI for the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians.IPS.orgBBCnews.comThe Vatican’s newspaper reported that Islam had overtaken Roman Catholicism as the world’s largest “single religious denomination.” “While Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children,” said Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, “Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer.”Times OnlineA church exploded in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. “People say miracles don’t happen now days,” said the town’s deputy fire chief, who was shielded from the blast by the bell tower. “I firmly believe they do, because one just did.”Today’s TMJ4 MilwaukeeAn Iowa man with a lengthy and violent criminal record was serving an eight-Sunday church sentence, andQuad-City TimesCharlton Heston, the actor and NRA spokesman who had called Martin Luther King, Jr, “a twentieth-century Moses for his people,” died at 84.NY Times

Hadijatou Mani, a former slave from Niger, was suing her government for not implementing protective laws after it ended slavery four years ago.BBCnews.comZimbabwean President Robert Mugabe demanded a recount and refused to release the results of his country’s recent presidential election, which he probably lost,NY Timesand a Burmese man was fined $1 and sentenced to life in prison for staging a silent protest outside the U.S. embassy in Rangoon.BBCnews.comNew codes were drawn up to provide the United Kingdom’s 900 working beach donkeys with such protections as vacation time, decent housing, and rider weight restrictions.BBCnews.comBillionaire Ted Turner told Charlie Rose what will happen if global warming proceeds unchecked: “Most of the people will have died,” he said, “and the rest of us will be cannibals.”AJC.comGlobal temperatures were expected to decrease in 2008.BBCnews.comA Vidalia, Georgia, man who had married the widow of the man whose suicide provided him with a heart transplant twelve years ago committed suicide;.MSNBCit was reported that the organs donated by a New York teenager had spread cancer to all four of the recipients, killing two of them;CBS 13and scientists hoped that a cure for the contagious cancer wiping out Tasmanian devils was to be found in a tumor-resistant devil named Cedric.BBCnews.comA New Zealand man threw a hedgehog at a 15-year-old boy; “He was arrested shortly afterwards for assault with a weapon,” said Sergeant Bruce Jenkins of the Whakatane police. “Namely the hedgehog.”AFP

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Secrets and Lies·

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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.

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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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

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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