Weekly Review — July 28, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

The Congressional Budget Office announced that a proposed plan to control health-care spending would save only $2 billion over ten years, compared to a proposed $1 trillion in spending, although the agency also pointed out that the legislation could increase the proportion of people receiving insurance through their employers, despite Republican claims to the contrary. Democrats, with control of both the House and Senate, fought among themselves. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman threatened to move the bill to the floor without a committee vote if the Blue Dogs, seven conservative Democrats, refused to cooperate; Nancy Pelosi vowed that the bill would pass without them. In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid simply caved to Republican pressure and announced that there would be no vote on a new health-care bill until after the August recess.PoliticoThe New York TimesTalking Points MemoCBS NewsTalking Points MemoG.O.P. Chairman Michael Steele gave a speech at the National Press Club, reciting a Republican memo verbatim. “Slow down, Mr. President,” said the memo and Steele, even though health-care reform has been a national issue since 1912. “We can’t afford to get health care wrong.” BnetWashington PostA two-year federal corruption investigation resulted in the arrest of 44 New Jerseyites including three mayors, two state assemblymen, and five rabbis. “This is so massive,” said political scientist Joseph Marbach, “It’s going to just reinforce the stereotype of New Jersey politics and corruption.”New York TimesNew York TimesNew York TimesThree Ohio adults were charged with child endangerment for allowing rats in their mobile home to chew off the toes of a six-week-old baby girl. New York Post

It was National Poker Week.NewsweekHenry Louis Gates Jr., an African-American professor at Harvard, was arrested by Jim Crowley, a white police sergeant, in his Cambridge, Massachusetts home after a passerby saw Gates forcing open his own front door. President Barack Obama said the police had “acted stupidly,” and Sergeant Crowley announced that he had once tried to save the life of (black) Celtics star Reggie Lewis. Neither Obama nor Crowley would apologize, though Obama said that he, Gates, and Crowley may get together at the White House for a beer. Obama did apologize for wearing “dad jeans.” “For people who want a president to look great in tight jeans,” he said, “I’m sorry.”Washington PostNew York PostChoreographer Merce Cunningham died. “It gives you nothing back,” Cunningham said of dancing. “No manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold. Nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”New York TimesAdam Yauch of the Beastie Boys announced that he has cancer. “It’s a pain in the ass,” he said.Sky NewsBoise’s ombudsman issued a report concluding that the city officer who tasered a man’s buttocks used excessive force,Idaho Statesmanand an Albany, New York, man who received an unwanted colonoscopy was awarded $125,000 in compensation for an incident in which doctors, at the request of police, forcibly sedated him, searched his rectum for drugs, then sent him a bill for $6,792 and a diagnosis of hemorrhoids.Times UnionNASA said that something had probably smashed into Jupiter and left an Earth-sized hole, confirming the discovery that an Australian amateur made with a telescope in his backyard. New York TimesAn earthquake shifted New Zealand one foot closer to Australia.Ananova

Large areas of India and China were plunged into darkness for nearly 7 minutes during the century’s longest total eclipse of the sun. Pregnant women were advised to stay home for fear that the eclipse would harm their unborn babies; tens of thousands waded into the Ganges, because it is auspicious to watch an eclipse while immersed in sacred waters.Boston GlobeNew York TimesNew York TimesBBCJohn Berry, the businessman who popularized WD-40, died,Los Angeles Timesand more than seven 55-gallon drums of gooey oil blobs were removed from Texas beaches.New York TimesThe Taco Bell chihuahua died of a stroke.PeopleRescuers searching a Michigan home found 110 live dogs (and 150 in freezers),WFTVand officials in South Korea deployed the world’s first cloned sniffer labrador retrievers.BBCA five-legged puppy was rescued from a Coney Island freak show after a woman paid $4,000 to outbid sideshow owner John Strong, who had intended to include the puppy in his “Freaks of Nature” show. “Sometimes,” said a rueful Strong, “you just gotta say, ‘OK, I still have nine live two-headed animals’, and move on.”NBC New York NewsA Chinese couple got married wearing a coat of 1,000 living honeybees. Ananova

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I was tucked in a blind behind a soda machine, with nothing in my hand but notepad and phone, when a herd of running backs broke cover and headed across the convention center floor. My God, they’re beautiful! A half dozen of them, compact as tanks, stuffed into sports shirts and cotton pants, each, around his monstrous neck, wearing a lanyard that listed number and position, name and schedule, tasks to be accomplished at the 2019 N.F.L. Scout­ing Combine. They attracted the stunned gaze of football fans and beat writers, yet, seemingly unaware of their surroundings, continued across the carpet.

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Thirty miles from the coast, on a desert plateau in the Judaean Mountains without natural resources or protection, Jerusalem is not a promising site for one of the world’s great cities, which partly explains why it has been burned to the ground twice and besieged or attacked more than seventy times. Much of the Old City that draws millions of tourists and Holy Land pilgrims dates back two thousand years, but the area ­likely served as the seat of the Judaean monarchy a full millennium before that. According to the Bible, King David conquered the Canaanite city and established it as his capital, but over centuries of destruction and rebuilding all traces of that period were lost. In 1867, a British military officer named Charles Warren set out to find the remnants of David’s kingdom. He expected to search below the famed Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, but the Ottoman authorities denied his request to excavate there. Warren decided to dig instead on a slope outside the Old City walls, observing that the Psalms describe Jerusalem as lying in a valley surrounded by hills, not on top of one.

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Eleven years ago, on a bitter January night, dozens of young men, dressed in a uniform of black berets, white T-­shirts, and black pants, gathered on a hill overlooking the Nigerian city of Jos, shouting, dancing, and shooting guns into the black sky. A drummer pounded a rhythmic beat. Amid the roiling crowd, five men crawled toward a candlelit dais, where a white-­robed priest stood holding an axe. Leading them was John, a sophomore at the local college, powerfully built and baby-faced. Over the past six hours, he had been beaten and burned, trampled and taunted. He was exhausted. John looked out at the landscape beyond the priest. It was the harmattan season, when Saharan sand blots out the sky, and the city lights in the distance blurred in John’s eyes as if he were underwater.

John had been raised by a single mother in Kaduna, a hardscrabble city in Nigeria’s arid north. She’d worked all hours as a construction supplier, but the family still struggled to get by. Her three boys were left alone for long stretches, and they killed time hunting at a nearby lake while listening to American rap. At seventeen, John had enrolled at the University of Jos to study business. Four hours southeast of his native Kaduna, Jos was another world, temperate and green. John’s mother sent him an allowance, and he made cash on the side rearing guard dogs for sale in Port Harcourt, the perilous capital of Nigeria’s oil industry. But it wasn’t much. John’s older brother, also studying in Jos, hung around with a group of Axemen—members of the Black Axe fraternity—who partied hard and bought drugs and cars. Local media reported a flood of crimes that Axemen had allegedly committed, but his brother’s friends promised John that, were he to join the group, he wouldn’t be forced into anything illegal. He could just come to the parties, help out at the odd charity drive, and enjoy himself. It was up to him.

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I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t get up—­just couldn’t get up, couldn’t get up or leave. All day lying in that median, unable. Was this misery or joy?

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The Catholic School, by Edoardo Albinati. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1,280 pages. $40.

In a quiet northern suburb of Rome, a woman hears noises in the street and sends her son to investigate. Someone is locked in the trunk of a Fiat 127. The police arrive and find one girl seriously injured, together with the corpse of a second. Both have been raped, tortured, and left for dead. The survivor speaks of three young aggressors and a villa by the sea. Within hours two of the men have been arrested. The other will never be found.

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