Weekly Review — August 26, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Barack Obama announced Joe Biden, the senior senator from Delaware, as his running mate, even though Biden voted for the war in Iraq and for NAFTA and once said that Obama was “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”Information WeekThe Washington PostThe Obama campaign denied that there was anything wrong with Biden’s signing a 2005 bill that eliminated many bankruptcy protections for consumers after Biden’s lobbyist son Hunter was retained for $100,000 a year by the financial-services giant MBNA, employees of which have donated $214,000 to Biden over the years.The New York TimesThe Democratic National Convention opened at the Pepsi Center in Denver, with later events to be held at Invesco Field. “I have a lot of doubts that this convention is going to be as persuasive as it should be,” said former national Democratic chairman Donald Fowler, “because they’ve got this damn thing with Hillary.” The major news networks agreed to share the $100,000 cost of a “flying” wire-guided overhead camera intended to capture such dramatic moments as Obama’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and hundreds of protesters marched on the Pepsi Center. “The Democrats,” said one graduate student, “are an imperialist party too.”The Boston GlobeThe New York Times

John McCain, who does not know how many houses he owns, was expected to choose a running mate who opposes abortion, most likely either former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney or Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty,PoliticoThe New York Timesand the United States agreed to an “aspirational timetable” that calls for troops to be removed from Iraq by December 31, 2011; west of Baghdad, a suicide bomber killed 25 people at a neighborhood celebration.The New York TimesNorth Korean hunger scientists announced a new noodle.BBC NewsThe Russian army was looting Poti, Georgia;The Times Onlineplanes crashed in Spain, Kyrgyzstan, and Guatemala,The New York TimesThe New York TimesThe New York Timesand eight climbers were killed in an avalanche on Mont Blanc.The New York TimesSuicide bombers blew up a munitions factory in Wah, Pakistan, killing at least 63 people.BBC NewsThree Ghanaian men, one a butcher, were arrested for the ritual murder of a hunchback,My Joy OnlineSomeone was torturing feral cats in the Bronx,The New York Timesand police in Brooklyn were looking for a man who, after he was serviced by a one-legged prostitute in the hallway of a housing project, knocked the woman out of her wheelchair, thereby killing her.The New York PostScientists found that dogs can develop a sense of right and wrong, that elephants can do basic math, and that Australian Aboriginal children can count even if their local language has no words for numbers.Stuff.co.nzNew ScientistScience DailyResearchers found that women do not have a higher threshold for pain than men do, but actually suffer more,The Daily Mailand an elephant in Portland, Oregon, named Rose-Tu gave birth to a 286-pound calf and immediately began to kick it.NWCN.comFrance banned TV shows for babies.The New York Times

Due to water shortages and rising fertilizer costs, 49 million acres of cropland were being treated with human sewage.National Geographic NewsThe BeijingOlympics ended.ReutersThe National Guard was still patrolling New Orleans,The New York Timesand Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold) acknowledged that its voting machines, used in 34 states, were programmed with a logic error that loses votes, and that the error has been in place for ten years.The Washington PostMargaret Thatcher, revealed her daughter, has dementia and often forgets that she is no longer the British prime minister. “Oh,” she said in a lucid moment, “how I wish I could do it all again.”The Washington PostIn Kashmir, protests that began two months ago, when 100 acres were granted to a Hindu shrine to build toilets for pilgrims, continued as hundreds of thousands of Muslims rallied against India and demanded independence;BBC Newsin Singur, India, 40,000 people rallied to demand that farmers be returned the land taken from them to build a new Tata Motors factory, where the world’s cheapest car is to be manufactured.The New York TimesDr. Hugh R. Butt, the coagulation expert who showed that vitamin K could help halt internal bleeding, died at age 98,The New York Timesand Japanese scientists created human stem cells from a little girl’s teeth.BBC NewsMicrobiologists found a virus named Sputnik that can infect larger viruses,National Geographic Newsastronomers suggested that black holes might come in only small and large sizes, not medium,Science Dailyand physicists in Geneva found that quantum entanglement travels over 10,000 times the speed of light.Scientific American

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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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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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