Weekly Review — March 24, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

The House of Representatives, reacting to a plan by AIG to pay its executives as much as $218 million in bonuses, voted 328 to 93 in favor of a 90-percent tax on executive bonuses at firms that receive $5 billion or more in federal funds. Eighty-five Republicans voted for the bill despite their party’s traditional opposition to tax increases. “The American people,” explained Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), “are all watching here.” “The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better towards them,” said Senator Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) of the AIG executives, “if theyâ??d follow the Japanese model and come before the American people and take that deep bow, and say Iâ??m sorry, and then either do one of two things–resign, or go commit suicide.”PoliticoCBCNews.caPoliticoThe Congressional Budget Office announced that the Obama Administration’s budget proposals will create $9.3 trillion in deficits over the next decade, and First Lady Michelle Obama planted a vegetable garden.New York TimesNew York TimesPresident Barack Obama appeared on Jay Leno and described his bowling as so poor that it was “like the Special Olympics or something,” and released a video to the Iranian people, timed to coincide with Nowruz, the Persian New Year. “Let us remember the words that were written by the poet Saadi,” said Obama, “so many years ago: ‘The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence.'” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran, responded to Obama’s call for a “new beginning.” “They chant the slogan of change,” he said, “but no change is seen in practice.”The San Francisco ChronicleThe International Herald TribuneAl JazeeraThe Iraq war turned six.Gawker

Pope Benedict XVI visited Africa. In Angola he warned against witchcraft, corruption, and condoms, and two girls were trampled to death at a stadium where he appeared. “I entrust them to Jesus,” he said, “so that he welcomes them into his kingdom.” Pygmies in Cameroon built a ceremonial hut outside the apostolic nunciature in Yaounde and presented the Pope with a basket, a cloth mat, and a turtle.BBCNew York TimesAgence France PresseCatholic NewsA 34-year-old army-backed DJ, Andry Rajoelina, was inaugurated as president of Madagascar, dissolved parliament, and promised to hold elections within two years.The GuardianAFP via Google NewsA pink baby elephant was discovered in Botswana.BBCA massive earthquake off Tonga triggered an underwater volcanic eruption that unleashed a 13-mile-high plume of smoke. “We are quite lucky,” said Tonga’s chief seismologist, “not to get a tsunami.”TelegraphThe Environmental Protection Agency submitted for White House approval a proposal finding that global warming endangers public health and welfare,The Washington Postand transcripts emerged from a March 6 radio appearance by Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in which he discussed climate change. “We are cooling,” explained Steele. “We are not warming. The warming you see out there, the supposed warming, and I am using my finger quotation marks here, is part of the cooling process. Greenland, which is now covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this. Like we know what this planet is all about.”New York TimesFloods in Namibia killed 92 people,Associatd Press/International Herald Tribuneand Turkish police dispersed protesters at a global water-shortage summit in Istanbul by spraying them with water cannons.Reuters

Somali pirates freed an Indian ship carrying rice and wheat and captured a Greek cargo ship carrying iron.XinhuaCNNA plane carrying 17 people, many of them children, to a ski holiday crashed next to a Montana cemetery, killing all aboard.CNNReutersActress Natasha Richardson, 45, died from a head injury sustained while learning to ski,Entertainment Tonightand 27-year-old British reality-TV star Jade Goody died of cervical cancer. “She was a courageous woman,” said Prime Minister Gordon Brown.Daily MailThe United Kingdom released documents showing that, between 1987 and 1993, it was officially concerned with UFOs; one document described a woman meeting an extraterrestrial with a slight Scandinavian accent.Radio NetherlandsEgyptologists in Bonn, Germany, were hoping to use computer tomography to recreate the perfume worn by Egypt’s Queen Hatshepsut in 1479 B.C.,Science DailyCanadian paleontologists found that tiny velociraptor-like dinosaurs smaller than housecats roamed North America 75 million years ago, Science Dailyand physicists at Fermilab in Illinois announced a new particle, Y(4140), but could not explain how it came to be. “Y(4140),” said one physicist unaffiliated with Fermilab, “is part of this whole class of objects which people don’t really understand.”National Geographic NewsSylvia Plath’s son, evolutionary biologist Nicholas Hughes, hanged himself in Alaska.The New York Times

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“You’re being reborn,” the voice says. “Exiting the womb of your mother. Coming into the earth as a small baby. Everything is new.” It is a Saturday morning in mid-March, and right now I’m lying on a yoga mat in a lodge in Ohio, surrounded by fifty other men who’ve come to the Midwest for a weekend of manhood-confirming adventures. The voice in question belongs to Aaron Blaine, a facilitator for Evryman, the men’s group orchestrating this three-day retreat. All around me, men are shedding tears as Blaine leads us on a guided meditation, a kind of archetypal montage of Norman Rockwell boyhood. “You’re starting to figure things out,” he says, in somniferous baritone. “Snow, for the first time. Sunshine. Start to notice the smells, the tastes, the confusion. The fear. And you’re growing. You’re about ten years old. The world’s huge and scary.”

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The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding the postwar boom. Those sockless people in Top-Siders, whose ancestors’ names and portraits adorned the walls, were entirely new to me. I made friends with some, but I was not free of a corrosive envy of their habitus of ease and entitlement.

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Last May, the families of students at Cypress Academy, an independent charter school in New Orleans, received an email announcing that the school would close when classes ended the following week and that all its students would be transferred to another nearby charter for the upcoming year. Parents would have the option of entering their children in the city’s charter-enrollment lottery, but the lottery’s first round had already taken place, and the most desirable spots for the fall were filled.

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how high? that high

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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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