Weekly Review — July 29, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A grasshopper driving a chariot, 1875]

Radovan Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade and awaits imminent extradition to The Hague, where he will face charges of genocide for his role in the Srebrenica massacres and the siege of Sarajevo. The former Bosnian Serb president, a psychiatrist and poet who in 1991 pledged to drive Bosnian Muslims down “the highway of hell and suffering,” had been living in the Serbian capital as a New Age guru, promoting alternative medicine and “Human Quantum Energy” under the name “Dragan David Dabic.” Serbia hoped the arrest would hasten its campaign to join the European Union, and it was reported that Ratko Mladic, the general who led Bosnian Serb forces during the war and is believed to be in hiding in Serbia, is protected by two bodyguards under orders to kill him in the event of his arrest. TelegraphNew York TimesReutersTelegraphTwo bombs placed in trash cans exploded in Istanbul, killing thirteen people,AFPand a bombing in Gaza killed five Hamas militants and an eight-year-old girl. China ViewIn Ahmadabad, India, shortly after television stations received an email that read, “In the name of Allah, the Indian Mujahidin strike again! Do whatever you can, within five minutes from now, feel the terror of death!” 16 bombs exploded across the city, killing 45 people. MWCIraqi officials said that a suicide attack that killed eight people in Baquba, Iraq, had been carried out by a woman, as indicated by the pair of feminine legs found nearby, and four female suicide bombers killed 57 people in Baghdad and Kirkuk.New York TimesNew York TimesNASA announced that the lights of the auroras australis and borealis are caused by magnetic explosions one-third of the way to the moon.Science Daily

Congress passed a $300 billion bailout for the mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Guardianand the mortgage crisis was causing suicides.FOX NewsWall Street got drunk, President George W. Bush told an audience at a fund-raiser. “Now it’s got a hangover.”ReutersOil prices were dropping,APand the United States Geological Survey announced that there are 90 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic. Financial TimesChina was paying parents of victims of the recent earthquake in Sichuan province to sign statements to the effect that the Communist Party “mobilized society to help us”; Chinese newspapers were ordered to stop reporting on school collapses; and a poll ranked China as the most optimistic of 24 nations surveyed. New York TimesNew York TimesBarack Obama delivered a speech to a crowd of 200,000 in Berlin,Talking Points Memoand John McCain endorsed a ban on affirmative action in his home state of Arizona. USA TodayFrance abolished the 35-hour workweek. “It’s a specter,” said engineer Michel Guyot, who expects to forsake his weekday trips to the limestone cliffs of the Calanque de Sugiton. “A cloud over my head.”National PostIran executed 29 drug smugglers,New York Timesand Iraq was banned from competing in the Olympics.ABCA locust plague in Mongolia threatened to spoil next month’s games in Beijing.Houston ChronicleThe planet CoRot-Exo-4b, a ringed gas giant resembling Jupiter and larger than the sun, was discovered 3,000 light-years away, in the Unicorn constellation. Fresh NewsCalifornia Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill requiring that students in the state’s public schools be taught about global warming.San Jose Mercury NewsBloggers for the Los Angeles Times received a memo instructing them not to write about a National Enquirer story alleging that former Senator John Edwards was meeting his mistress at an L.A. hotel. SlateResearch showed that men lust for women whether or not they find them attractive.Telegraph

During a children’s production of “Annie, Jr.” at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, 58-year-old unemployed truck driver Jim J. Adkisson opened fire on a packed sanctuary with a twelve-gauge shotgun. “We were just, ‘Oh, my God, that’s not part of the play,'” said Amira Parkey, 16, who was playing Miss Hannigan. After killing one man and wounding seven others (one of whom later died from her wounds), Adkisson was tackled by John Bohstedt, who was playing Daddy Warbucks. APActor Christian Bale was arrested in London for allegedly assaulting his mother and sister, Telegraphand actress Estelle Getty died.The TimesSeventy-six-year-old Marlene Mackenzie of North Caldwell, New Jersey, was arrested for killing her husband by throwing a cocktail glass at his head.WNBCHot rubber safety mats on New York City playgrounds were burning children’s feet, FOX Newsand lightning struck ten people in New York and New Jersey, killing one.WCBSEdward “Eddie” Davidson, a 35-year-old “spam king” convicted of tax evasion and fraud, escaped from a minimum-security prison in Bennett, Colorado, and killed his wife, his three-year-old daughter, and himself in the SUV they had used in the escape. Davidson’s 16-year-old daughter escaped from the vehicle with a neck wound, and a seven-month-old boy was found, unharmed in a car seat, with the victims.Scientific AmericanTwo employees at a deli in Brooklyn used machetes to defeat three armed thieves attempting to steal $2,000 worth of cigarettes. One of the attackers, said clerk Sammy Othman, “had a knife on him and he said, ‘I will stab you,’ and I told him, ‘Don’t even think about it. My knife is more bigger than yours.'”WCBS

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The city was not beautiful; no one made that claim for it. At the height of summer, people in suits, shellacked by the sun, moved like harassed insects to avoid the concentrated light. There was a civil war–like fracture in America—the president had said so—but little of it showed in the capital. Everyone was polite and smooth in their exchanges. The corridor between Dupont Circle and Georgetown was like the dream of Yugoslav planners: long blocks of uniform earth-toned buildings that made the classical edifices of the Hill seem the residue of ancestors straining for pedigree. Bunting, starched and perfectly ruffled in red-white-and-blue fans, hung everywhere—from air conditioners, from gutters, from statues of dead revolutionaries. Coming from Berlin, where the manual laborers are white, I felt as though I was entering the heart of a caste civilization. Untouchables in hard hats drilled into sidewalks, carried pylons, and ate lunch from metal boxes, while waiters in restaurants complimented old respectable bobbing heads on how well they were progressing with their rib eyes and iceberg wedges.

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The second-worst thing about cancer chairs is that they are attached to televisions. Someone somewhere is always at war with silence. It’s impossible to read, so I answer email, or watch some cop drama on my computer, or, if it seems unavoidable, explore the lives of my nurses. A trip to Cozumel with old girlfriends, a costume party with political overtones, an advanced degree on the internet: they’re all the same, these lives, which is to say that the nurses tell me nothing, perhaps because amid the din and pain it’s impossible to say anything of substance, or perhaps because they know that nothing is precisely what we both expect. It’s the very currency of the place. Perhaps they are being excruciatingly candid.

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When Demétrio Martins was ready to preach, he pushed a joystick that angled the seat of his wheelchair forward, slowly lifting him to a standing position. Restraints held his body upright. His atrophied right arm lay on an armrest, and with his left hand, he put a microphone to his lips. “Proverbs, chapter fourteen, verse twelve,” he said. “ ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is . . .’ ”

The congregation finished: “ ‘Death.’ ”

The Assembly of God True Grapevine was little more than a fluorescent-lit room wedged between a bar and an empty lot in Jacaré, a poor neighborhood on Rio de Janeiro’s north side. A few dozen people sat in the rows of plastic lawn chairs that served as pews, while shuddering wall fans circulated hot air. The congregation was largely female; of the few men in attendance, most wore collared shirts and old leather shoes. Now and then, Martins veered from Portuguese into celestial tongues. People rose from their seats, thrust their hands into the air, and shouted, “Hallelujah!”

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On December 7, 2016, a drone departed from an Amazon warehouse in the United Kingdom, ascended to an altitude of four hundred feet, and flew to a nearby farm. There it glided down to the front lawn and released from its clutches a small box containing an Amazon streaming device and a bag of popcorn. This was the first successful flight of Prime Air, Amazon’s drone delivery program. If instituted as a regular service, it would slash the costs of “last-mile delivery,” the shortest and most expensive leg of a package’s journey from warehouse to doorstep. Drones don’t get into fender benders, don’t hit rush-hour traffic, and don’t need humans to accompany them, all of which, Amazon says, could enable it to offer thirty-minute delivery for up to 90 percent of domestic shipments while also reducing carbon emissions. After years of testing, Amazon wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration last summer to ask for permission to conduct limited commercial deliveries with its drones, attaching this diagram to show how the system would work. (Amazon insisted that we note that the diagram is not to scale.) Amazon is not the only company working toward such an automated future—­UPS, FedEx, Uber, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have similar programs—­but its plans offer the most detailed vision of what seems to be an impending reality, one in which parce­l-toting drones are a constant presence in the sky, doing much more than just delivering popcorn.

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Every year in Lusk, Wyoming, during the second week of July, locals gather to reenact a day in 1849 when members of a nearby band of Sioux are said to have skinned a white man alive. None of the actors are Native American. The white participants dress up like Indians and redden their skin with body paint made from iron ore.

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At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

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