Weekly Review — April 27, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

A Christian martyr.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer passed a bill requiring state law-enforcement officers to demand documentation of any person they suspect may be in the United States illegally. “That means that anyone who drives in the city of Phoenix and gets pulled over,” said Phoenix Vice Mayor Michael Nowakowski, “better have a passport or a visa.” The law, said one elected official, “is literally designed to terrorize undocumented immigrants.” Protestors smeared refried-beans swastikas on the state capitol’s windows. The state’s House of Representatives passed a bill requiring future presidential candidates to present a copy of their birth certificates to the Arizona secretary of state. “This is one way,” said the bill’s sponsor, Representative Judy Burges, “to bring back integrity and transparency to the voting system.”Washington PostThe Arizona RepublicTalking Points MemoAZCapitol TimesGoogle disclosed that the United States government had made more than 3,500 requests for the personal information of Internet users.Christian Science MonitorEmails released by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations revealed that Goldman Sachs benefited from the 2007 crash of the mortgage market. “There will be very good opportunities as the market goes into what is likely to be even greater distress,” one executive wrote, “and we want to be in position to take advantage of them.” The Washington PostA report by the inspector general of the Securities Exchange Commission found that after the start of the mortgage crisis SEC employees dramatically increased the amount of pornography they viewed on office computers; one staff attorney admitted that he spent as many as eight hours a day looking at porn.Washington PostThe United States Treasury released the new $100 bill. Wall Street Journal

Iraqi officials acknowledged that Iraq’s security forces had imprisoned more than 400 northern Sunni Muslims in a secret prison, torturing dozens, before the country’s human rights minister intervened last month to close the prison. NYTimesThe Pentagon reported that Iranian paramilitaries were operating in Venezuela and that Iran is supplying weapons and explosives to insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.Washington TimesBombay’s Oberoi hotel reopened, and the California Highway Patrol was forced to temporarily shut down its South Lake Tahoe office after they mistook an “anal vibrator” for a bomb.CBSTahoe Daily TribunePhilippines President Gloria Arroyo named her manicurist to the board of a government agency that oversees housing. “Having a relationship of trust with the president,” said Arroyo’s spokesperson, “should not count against someone.”APThe French justice minister demanded legal action against a man who was photographed wiping himself with the tricolor, and the European Union declared vacationing a human right and unveiled a scheme to subsidize vacations for the poor.BBCNational PostEighty people died in Uganda after drinking homemade banana gin. BBCApartment-building owners in New York City reached a labor deal with the union representing doormen, narrowly avoiding a strike. “It would definitely be a big inconvenience,” said one West End Avenue resident. “Our doorman told me probably 50 percent of the people in our building have takeout delivered on any given night.”New York Times

Dorothy Height, whom President Barack Obama called “the godmother of the civil rights movement,” died at the age of 98.San Francisco ChronicleThe Supreme Court upheld the right to record women crushing small animals with their feet, and a 41-year-old woman in Wisconsin was arrested for shooting blow darts at pedestrians so that she could hear them say “ouch.”ABA JournalStevens Point JournalThe police chief in Papau, Indonesia, barred applicants to the police force from enlarging their “vital organs,” claiming that an unnaturally large penis causes a “hindrance during training.” ReutersA bishop in Germany resigned after he was accused of beating children in a Bavarian orphanage, a bishop in Ireland quit for failing to report abuse to the police, and the longest-serving bishop in Belgium stepped down after revealing that he had sexually abused a boy in his “close entourage.”New York TimesAZ CentralNew York TimesGovernment officials in the United Kingdom apologized to the Pope for a leaked memo that suggested his upcoming trip to Britain be accompanied by the launch of a Pope Benedict-brand condom. Daily TelegraphThe Hubble Telescope turned twenty, and astrophysicist Stephen Hawking warned against making contact with aliens. “If aliens visit us,” said Hawking, “the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.” Christian Science MonitorBBC

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Secrets and Lies·

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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.

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.

Poem for Harm·

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Reflections on harm in language and the trouble with Whitman

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.

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 solid-gold toilet named “America” was stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire, England.

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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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