Weekly Review — October 21, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

Governments around the world attempted to slow the global financial catastrophe. Der SpiegelNYTThe stock market in Iceland reopened after a three-day suspension and immediately plunged 77 percent.NYTBloombergReutersThe Economist via Seattle PIFTGuardianBloombergSwitzerland bought $60 billion in bad debt from the largest Swiss bank, while the second-largest Swiss bank sought aid from the government of Qatar.WPPresident George W. Bush announced a world financial summit, described by some as “Bretton Woods II,” to be held at Camp David after the November 4 elections,TelegraphWSJBBCWPNYTWPBloombergCSMand the United States partially nationalized nine of its major banks. “Bush is to the left of me now,” said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who also referred to Bush as “comrade.” The Dow jumped 936 points, or 11 percent, on the news that the bailout had begun–its fifth-largest gain in history, surpassed only by records set in the early days of the Great Depression. Reports were released showing weak consumer spending, and the Dow plummeted again, for its worst day since Black Monday in 1987. BBCPawnshop profits were up as much as 50 percent over last year,MSNBCand “Capital Gains,” a program to pay middle school students in Washington, D.C., for good grades and behavior, disbursed $137,813, but underpaid some students due to computer errors. “I only got $10,” said seventh-grader Tarae Graham. “I should have gotten way more.” “Yeah,” said classmate Dominique Watson, who was paid $28. “This whole thing is really messed up.” WP

Taliban militants attacked Lashkar Gah, in the opium-rich Helmand province of Afghanistan. NATO responded with airstrikes that killed 62 insurgents, and 40 more were killed in another battle in the region. Villagers in Nad Ali, six miles away, claimed the airstrikes had also killed civilians, and they protested by carrying 12 corpses to the home of the local governor. The Taliban then seized a bus that they said was en route to Lashkar Gah, executed at least 24 passengers, and beheaded at least six. LATLATLATLATA classified National Intelligence Estimate showed sharply increased militant activity in Pakistan, and also noted food shortages, rising fuel costs, and a sudden flight of foreign capital. An anonymous official summarized conditions in the nuclear-armed country as “no money, no energy, no government.” McClatchyIt was revealed that the National Security Council had given the CIA written approval of waterboarding, WPand the Republican Party in Sacramento, California, removed the words “Waterboard Barack Obama” from their official website. “Some people find it offensive,” said county chairman Craig MacGlashan. “Others do not. I cannot comment on how people interpret things.”Sacramento BeeGeneral Colin Powell endorsed Obama for president. “I’d have difficulty,” said Powell, “with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court.” He also attended an African culture festival in London, appearing onstage to do the finger-pointing dance to “Yahoozee,” a Nigerian rap song about Internet fraud. YahooBBCIt was revealed that the online market Intrade, which trades bets on the outcome of the presidential election, had been manipulated by a single trader to favor John McCain. “If the investor did this as investment,” said financial researcher David Rothschild, “he is one of the most foolish investors in the world.”CQ

A House investigative committee presented evidence that military contractor Harry Sargeant III, a top McCain fund-raiser, overcharged by tens of millions of dollars for fuel deliveries to American bases in Iraq.NYTSenior officials of Russian energy company Gazprom, including personal associates of Vladimir Putin, met in Anchorage with Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources to discuss investing in energy projects in the state. Governor Sarah Palin said that she did not know about the meeting.IHTCNNNYTPutin’s black labrador was given a satellite-monitoring collar. “She looks sad,” said Russian Deputy Minister Sergei Ivanov. “Her free life is over.” “She is wagging her tail,” said Putin. “That means she likes it.”ReutersDavid Moore, a former Air Force mechanic in Connecticut who is building a flying bat-suit, admitted that he had “failed miserably” this year. “It looks,” he said of his crumpled nylon contraption, which he calls The Fletcher, “like a pile of spaghetti right now.”Hartford CourantJazz trumpeter and big-band arranger Neal Hefti, who wrote the “Batman” theme song, died at age 85. “He told me he tore up more paper on ‘Batman’ than on any other work he ever did,” said his son. “He had to find something that worked with the lowest common denominator, so it would appeal to kids, yet wouldn’t sound stupid.” “Nananana, nananana, nananana, nananana,” went the song, a 12-bar blues that won Hefti his only Grammy, “Batman!” NYT

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In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

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