Weekly Review — September 30, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

A Christian martyr.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 777 points in one day after the House of Representatives failed to pass a Wall Street bailout plan, first put forth by President George W. Bush, that would have granted Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson up to $700 billion to buy, at any price, toxic mortgage-backed assets from financial firms. “It’s not based on any particular data point,” said a Treasury spokeswoman of the $700 billion figure. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”Wall Street JournalWashington PostForbes.comSenator John McCain announced that fixing the economy was more important than politicking, suspended his campaign, and attempted without success to postpone his first debate with Senator Barack Obama, although he continued to run campaign advertisements, including one that declared him the winner of the debate, and appeared on CBS with Katie Couric. McCain then joined congressional leaders, including Obama, at the White House to discuss the stimulus package. “I didn’t see any sign,” said Representative Barney Frank, “of our Republican colleagues paying any attention to him whatsoever.” “All he has done,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of McCain, “is stand in front of the cameras.”Washington PostWashington PostThe New York TimesPoliticoThe Los Angeles Times“He was my dear,” said former Brazilian beauty queen Maria Garcinda Teixeira de Jesus, 77, who had a tryst with McCain in 1957, “and my coconut dessert.”Daily News“If money isn’t loosened up,” said President Bush of the U.S. economy, “this sucker could go down.”The New York Times

Somali pirates lowered from $35 million to $20 million their ransom demands for a captured Ukrainian ship carrying 33 Russian tanks and various munitions.BBCRussian officials sought to ban South Park, The Simpsons, and Family Guy from television, and sent a fleet of warships, including nuclear-powered guided-missile cruiser “Peter the Great,” to Venezuela to participate in military exercises.Daily TelegraphBBCThe military government of Myanmar freed 9,002 prisoners, including the country’s longest-serving political prisoner, journalist Win Tin,The New York Timesand Guantanamo Bay prosecutor Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld resigned after his superiors failed to turn over evidence to a detainee’s lawyers. “I am highly concerned,” he said, “about the slipshod, uncertain ‘procedure’ for affording defense counsel discovery.”The Washington PostIn India, a mob of recently dismissed workers at an auto-parts manufacturer beat their boss to death. “This is by no means,” said an executive at the parent company, “a regular labor conflict.”Times OnlineKenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga admitted to being circumcised, BBCa man flew across the English Channel using a homemade jet-propelled wing,CNNand Chineseastronauts conducted the country’s first-ever spacewalk. “After the Olympics, it’s the most exciting thing that enhances our national pride and dignity this year,” said He Haihong, a Beijing sales manager.Boston GlobeTwo British archaeologists claimed to have solved the mystery of Stonehenge, putting forth a theory that the stones had healing properties,CNNand geologists found that Iran is sinking. National Geographic

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for vice president, visited New York City and met with world leaders from Afghanistan,Iraq, and Colombia, as well as Henry Kissinger and Bono, and agreed to speak to the press. “It was great,” she said.CNNMSNBCPaul Newman died.CNNA flock of wild turkeys terrorized a town in Oregon;Gazette Timesa large pig, the size of a “Shetland pony,” held an Australian woman hostage in her home;BBCand a man in Kentucky sued his doctor after his penis was amputated during a circumcision.WLKYA dog in Alabama brought home a child’s foot.APA Colorado teenager was arrested for attempting to kill his mother, with plans to use her money to buy breast implants for his girlfriend,CNNand Louisiana State Representative John LeBruzzo suggested offering poor women $1,000 to get their tubes tied. Times-PicayuneFraternity members at Arizona State University caused a traffic accident by vomiting milk onto passing cars,The Arizona Republicand someone at George Fox University, a Christian college in Oregon, lynched Barack Obama in effigy.APA Jewish temple in Dothan, Alabama, offered $50,000 to Jewish families who move to the town,CNNand researchers in New York City announced that white flight had reversed for the first time in fifty years, with more than 100,000 white people introduced to the city’s rolls since 2000.The New York TimesCongress lifted a 26-year ban on offshore drilling,Bloombergscientists hunted for crops that could withstand climate change,BBCand starving polar bears were eating each other.CNNResearchers found that 55 percent of U.S. citizens believe they have been helped by a guardian angel. “Americans,” said one scholar of religion, “live in an enchanted world.”TIME

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October 2019


Constitution in Crisis·

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America’s Constitution was once celebrated as a radical and successful blueprint for democratic governance, a model for fledgling republics across the world. But decades of political gridlock, electoral corruption, and dysfunction in our system of government have forced scholars, activists, and citizens to question the document’s ability to address the thorniest issues of modern ­political life.

Does the path out of our current era of stalemate, minority rule, and executive abuse require amending the Constitution? Do we need a new constitutional convention to rewrite the document and update it for the twenty-­first century? Should we abolish it entirely?

This spring, Harper’s Magazine invited five lawmakers and scholars to New York University’s law school to consider the constitutional crisis of the twenty-­first century. The event was moderated by Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown and the author of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon.

Good Bad Bad Good·

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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.

Power of Attorney·

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In a Walmart parking lot in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 2015, a white police officer named Stephen Rankin shot and killed an unarmed, eighteen-­year-­old black man named William Chapman. “This is my second one,” he told a bystander seconds after firing the fatal shots, seemingly in reference to an incident four years earlier, when he had shot and killed another unarmed man, an immigrant from Kazakhstan. Rankin, a Navy veteran, had been arresting Chapman for shoplifting when, he claimed, Chapman charged him in a manner so threatening that he feared for his life, leaving him no option but to shoot to kill—­the standard and almost invariably successful defense for officers when called to account for shooting civilians. Rankin had faced no charges for his earlier killing, but this time, something unexpected happened: Rankin was indicted on a charge of first-­degree murder by Portsmouth’s newly elected chief prosecutor, thirty-­one-year-­old Stephanie Morales. Furthermore, she announced that she would try the case herself, the first time she had ever prosecuted a homicide. “No one could remember us having an actual prosecution for the killing of an unarmed person by the police,” Morales told me. “I got a lot of feedback, a lot of people saying, ‘You shouldn’t try this case. If you don’t win, it may affect your reelection. Let someone else do it.’ ”

Carlitos in Charge·

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I was in Midtown, sitting by a dry fountain, making a list of all the men I’d slept with since my last checkup—doctor’s orders. Afterward, I would head downtown and wait for Quimby at the bar, where there were only alcoholics and the graveyard shift this early. I’d just left the United Nations after a Friday morning session—likely my last. The agenda had included resolutions about a worldwide ban on plastic bags, condemnation of a Slobodan Miloševic statue, sanctions on Israel, and a truth and reconciliation commission in El Salvador. Except for the proclamation opposing the war criminal’s marble replica, everything was thwarted by the United States and a small contingent of its allies. None of this should have surprised me. Some version of these outcomes had been repeating weekly since World War II.

Life after Life·

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.

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:


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 group of researchers studying the Loch Ness Monster did not rule out the possibility of its existence, but speculated that it is possibly a giant eel.

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Happiness Is a Worn Gun


“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

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