Weekly Review — September 15, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

A Christian martyr.

President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and implored Democrats to pass their own health-care legislation. During the speech, the president noted that the bill would not extend health insurance to illegal immigrants, at which South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson shouted, “You lie!” Afterwards, Wilson received $1 million in campaign contributions. Shares in health insurance companies went up, and the number of Americans without health insurance rose to 46.3 million.New York TimesCNNMarketwatchCNNNew York TimesThe HillCNNFox NewsPoliticoTens of thousands of people gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol to protest health-care reform, the expansion of government, illegal immigration, abortion, the size of the national deficit, limitations on gun ownership, the linguistic plurality of the United States, the Wall Street bailout, the energy bill, and the appointment of White House czars. Signs carried at the protest depicted Obama as Adolf Hitler, as Che Guevara, as the Joker from the most recent Batman movie, and as an African witch doctor. “Bury Obamacare with Kennedy,” read one sign. “Joe Wilson for president” read another.The HillSamoans began to drive on the left side of the road in spite of a late appeal by the People Against Switching Sides (PASS).BBC

The Treasury Department announced plans to phase out its bank-bailout programs. “It is clear,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, “that we have stepped back from the brink and that we are pointed in the right direction.”MarketwatchThree more banks closed, adding to the 89 that failed so far this year,MarketWatchand investment firms revealed plans to buy life-insurance policies from elderly and sick people and package them into securitized investment products. “We’re hoping to get a herd stampeding after the first offering,” said a banker. New York TimesIn Pakistan, at least nineteen women trying to collect free handouts of flour were killed in an actual stampede.New York TimesA developer in London was found guilty of murdering his tenant so he could move ahead with plans to flip the property,BBCand a group of men in Florida were holding up pawn shops in various costumes, including hospital scrubs, child safety-seats, and sinks.St. Petersburg TimesThe U.S. was growing more pot. “The need to… distract yourself is pretty much a constant in human behavior through good times and bad,” said one marijuana-eradication official.CS MonitorScientists at Stanford University determined that stem cells could be made from fat cells removed during liposuction.CNN

Jim Carroll died, as did Nobel Prize-winning agronomist Norman Borlaug, and Gertrude Baines, who at 115 was the world’s oldest person.CNNThe GuardianNew York TimesA 107-year-old woman in Malaysia was looking for her 23rd husband.BBCAuthorities in Sudan were planning to lash a woman for wearing tight pants.CNNA German AIDS awareness campaign was criticized for portraying Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Joseph Stalin having sex with naked women. BBCPolice in Turkey rescued nine women from a villa where they had spent the last two months being made to fight each other, wear bikinis, and dance by a swimming pool for what they falsely believed was a reality-TV show. BBCCalifornia state legislator Mike Duvall, a Republican, resigned after he unwittingly bragged about having sex with much younger women–including one who wore “little eye-patch underwear”–into a hot microphone before a hearing.LA TimesA former jail deputy in Ohio was charged with two health-code violations after he fed a prisoner a bologna sandwich that had been rubbed on another prisoner’s penis.Columbus DispatchA man in Wales was sentenced to prison for murdering his partner after she changed her relationship status on Facebook to “single.”BBCWalmart employees beat a shoplifter to death,AFPand two Massachusetts teenagers were killed in a dispute over a parking space.Boston GlobeAfter successfully praying for his release from a stuck elevator, a devout Catholic in Vienna went directly to church, where, giving thanks to God, he embraced an 860-pound altar, which fell over, killing him instantly.Daily TelegraphCanadian scientists discovered the smell of death.BBC

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The city was not beautiful; no one made that claim for it. At the height of summer, people in suits, shellacked by the sun, moved like harassed insects to avoid the concentrated light. There was a civil war–like fracture in America—the president had said so—but little of it showed in the capital. Everyone was polite and smooth in their exchanges. The corridor between Dupont Circle and Georgetown was like the dream of Yugoslav planners: long blocks of uniform earth-toned buildings that made the classical edifices of the Hill seem the residue of ancestors straining for pedigree. Bunting, starched and perfectly ruffled in red-white-and-blue fans, hung everywhere—from air conditioners, from gutters, from statues of dead revolutionaries. Coming from Berlin, where the manual laborers are white, I felt as though I was entering the heart of a caste civilization. Untouchables in hard hats drilled into sidewalks, carried pylons, and ate lunch from metal boxes, while waiters in restaurants complimented old respectable bobbing heads on how well they were progressing with their rib eyes and iceberg wedges.

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The congregation finished: “ ‘Death.’ ”

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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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