Weekly Review — August 12, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Storks, 1864]

Claiming that South Ossetian separatists had attacked its villages, U.S. ally Georgia sent troops to capture the city of Tskhinvali. Russia retaliated by sending ground troops into Tskhinvali, then into Georgia proper; Georgia claimed that hundreds of troops had been killed on both sides along with “huge numbers” of civilians. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili described Russia’s troop actions as “the preplanned, cold-blooded, premeditated murder of a small country.”NYTimes.comItar-TassBloomberg.comThe Olympics began in Beijing, heralded on television by fake, computer-generated fireworks.All Headline NewsPresident George W. Bush told Bob Costas that China “is a big, important nation…it is important for this country to show respect for the people of the country.”CEP NewsThe International Court of Justice condemned Texas for executing a Mexican national who had not been advised of his right to consular assistance. “Texas,” replied the office of the state’s attorney general, “is not bound by the World Court.”BBCNews.comUnder pressure from human-rights groups, Iran suspended death by stoning “for now,”BBCNews.comand a U.S. military jury in Guantanamo rejected the 30-year minimum sentence called for by the Bush Administration and sentenced Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s former driver, to five more months in prison atop the 61 he has already served.The Wall Street JournalAustralian police reopened 7,000 investigations after realizing that they had mixed up DNA samples and wrongly arrested a man for double homicide and child rape,Reutersand Franz Kafka’s secret porn stash was brought to light. “Animals committing fellatio and girl-on-girl action,” said researcher James Hawes. “It’s quite unpleasant.”Times Online

It was discovered that a woman who paid a South Korean company to create five clones of her pitbull Booger was Joyce McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming who escaped British authorities in 1977 after abducting a Mormon missionary, securing him to a bed with mink-lined handcuffs, and raping him three times. “They are perfectly the same as their daddy,” said McKinney, in Seoul, of Booger’s clones. “I am in Heaven here.”Salt Lake TribuneDaily MailThe RegisterAfter The National Enquirer published pictures of John Edwards holding his “love child,” Edwards admitted that he had had an affair with actress Rielle Hunter in 2006 but said that he did not love her and that her baby couldn’t be his. Novelist Jay McInerney said that Hunter was the basis for Alison Poole, a “cocaine-addled, sexually voracious” party girl who appeared both in his novels and in Bret Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho.”ABCNews.comA poll by Lifetime Networks found that women would prefer to carpool or vacation with Barack Obama over John McCain by a factor of two to one.ReutersMcCain campaigned at a biker rally in South Dakota, at which there is each year a beauty pageant that features topless contestants performing fellatio upon bananas. “I encouraged Cindy to compete,” he told a crowd. “I told her with a little luck she could be the only woman ever to serve as First Lady and Miss Buffalo Chip.”Talking Points MemoIt was revealed that days after McCain reversed his position on offshore drilling to one of support, employees and family members from Hess oil company gave his campaign $285,000.Talking Points MemoIn New Zealand a 111-year-old tuatara reptile, a remnant from the age of dinosaurs, impregnated his partner for the first time in decades. The lizard-like creature, who now has three consorts, regained his interest in sex after zoologists removed a cancerous growth from his genitals.Fox News

A U.S. biologist in Barbados claimed to have discovered the world’s smallest snake, which, at less than 4 inches long, may be the smallest that snakes can possibly be. Barbadians insisted that they already knew about the animal, which they call a “thread snake.”BBCNews.comCNN.comIsaac Hayes, who sang the theme song to “Shaft” (“Can you dig it?”), and comedian Bernie Mac both died.BBCnews.comNYTimes.comRwanda’s justice ministry issued a report accusing France of participating in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. “French forces directly assassinated Tutsis and Hutus accused of hiding Tutsis,” said a statement from the ministry. “French forces committed several rapes on Tutsi survivors.”BBCnews.comA survey found 125,000 Western lowland gorillas living in a swamp in Congo, double the number of the endangered primates previously believed to exist; nevertheless, due to habitat loss and human encroachment, said a report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, almost half of the world’s primate species are facing extinction.CNN.comBBCnews.comThe U.S. Army failed to censor a new medical textbook that teaches updated military surgical practices and depicts blast amputations, dead children, and a suicide bomber’s rib embedded in a soldier. “There was never any doubt in my mind that the Army would publish this,” said Dr. Stephen P. Hetz, a retired colonel and the book’s co-author. “It was just a matter of getting around the nitwits.”NYTimes.comSharks were eating polar bears in the Arctic,Reutersand Greyhound pulled an ad that read, “There’s a reason you’ve never heard of ‘bus rage,'” after a Greyhound passenger on the TransCanada highway beheaded and ate his seatmate.Houston ChronicleAt least 38 Venezuelan Warao Indians had died of rabies after being bitten by vampire bats. “Vampire bats are very adaptable,” said a rabies researcher. “Homo sapiens is a pretty easy meal.”CNN.com

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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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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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