Weekly Review — June 1, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: The Wire Master and his puppets, 1875]

The wire master and his puppets, 1875.

Forty days after its rig started gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP announced that the “top kill” effort, in which mud was used to try to plug the leak, had failed. CEO Tony Hayward said, “I’m sorry,” and, “There aren’t any plumes,” insisting that the leaked oil is all on the water’s surface despite scientists’ sightings of several underwater plumes, including one 22 miles long, six miles wide and more than a thousand feet deep. BP planned to contain the leak by placing a cap over the well, but expected that oil would continue to spill until two relief wells are completed in August. The company, which will pay a penalty based on the size of the spill, estimated that 210,000 gallons of oil were flowing into the ocean daily, though government scientists suspected the number is closer to 800,000 gallons. The Obama Administration, which called the spill “the biggest environmental disaster we’ve ever faced in this country,” struggled with the growing perception that it was not being forceful enough in its dealings with BP, and James Carville suggested that “the president needs to tell BP ‘I’m your daddy, I’m in charge, you’re going to do what we say.'”AP via Huffington PostHuffington PostCNNCNNThe Pakistani Taliban carried out coordinated attacks on two mosques in Lahore that killed more than 80 members of a minority Muslim sect.New York TimesA New York community board overwhelmingly approved a controversial plan for an Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from the World Trade Center site, and a South African newspaper apologized for publishing a cartoon that depicted the Prophet Muhammad lying on a psychiatrist??s couch saying, “Other prophets have followers with a sense of humor!”AFPNew York TimesGary Coleman died, as did Dennis Hopper and Art Linkletter.CNNCNNWashington Post

Eighty Jamaicans were killed by government forces during an unsuccessful operation to capture drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke and his infamous Shower Posse, as well as Pepsi, Fidel, Tel Aviv, Prince Pow, Cutter, and Alcapone, gang leaders who also control large parts of Kingston.The GuardianA Cambodian “jungle girl,” who spent 20 years living alone in the forest before being reunited with her family three years ago at the age of 29, fled back to the wild after her family’s attempts to integrate her into society failed. The father of the girl (who never learned language and preferred to crawl rather than walk), said “she took off her clothes and ran away from the house without saying a word to any of our family members.”New York Daily NewsAfter 125 years, the American Kennel Club announced that it will let mutts, or “All Americans,” compete in shows and be judged on agility, rally, and obedience.DiscoveryA 19-year-old became the ninth worker to commit suicide this year at the Chinese factory that manufactures the Apple iPad, and the U.S. was running out of both IP addresses and the paint used for highway divider stripes.Christian Science MonitorCNNYahoo NewsA new study found that nearly half of the 500 most popular sunscreens may increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer because they contain vitamin A, an antioxidant that slows skin aging but is also thought to be carcinogenic when exposed to sunlight.AOL NewsA South Korean couple whose baby starved to death while they spent 12 hours a day raising a virtual child in an online fantasy game was sentenced to two years in prison, and video surfaced of an Indonesian two-year-old smoking and propelling himself around on a toy truck because he is too out of shape to toddle.CNNDaily MailThe Hubble Space Telescope captured images of a sun-like star eating a nearby planet.BBC

Thousands of people fled volcanoes in Ecuador and in Guatemala, where a television reporter was killed while covering an eruption.BBCTwo men died while trying to climb a frozen waterfall below the rim of the Grand Canyon.New York TimesAn Oregon man found a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite on the side of the road.KGW NewsBritain reported that it has a stockpile of 225 nuclear warheads (its first public accounting of its total nuclear arsenal) after the U.S. revealed that it has 5,113 such warheads.New York TimesScientists discovered that male antelopes trick females into having sex with them by pretending a predator is in the area; when a female appears to be leaving, the male will run in front of her, freeze in place, stare in the direction that she is going and fake a snort that indicates a predatory lion or cheetah was spotted. Once the female retreats back into the male??s territory, he attempts to mate with her right away.New York TimesResearchers found that pond snails on crystal meth had awesome memories.Journal of Experimental BiologyA library book borrowed by George Washington was returned to New York City’s oldest library 221 years late, and the country’s oldest restaurant, opened in Pennsylvania in 1681, closed. “Unfortunately,” lamented its owners, “the King George Inn has not escaped this severe economic downturn.” ReutersBucks Local News

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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 second-worst thing about cancer chairs is that they are attached to televisions. Someone somewhere is always at war with silence. It’s impossible to read, so I answer email, or watch some cop drama on my computer, or, if it seems unavoidable, explore the lives of my nurses. A trip to Cozumel with old girlfriends, a costume party with political overtones, an advanced degree on the internet: they’re all the same, these lives, which is to say that the nurses tell me nothing, perhaps because amid the din and pain it’s impossible to say anything of substance, or perhaps because they know that nothing is precisely what we both expect. It’s the very currency of the place. Perhaps they are being excruciatingly candid.

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When Demétrio Martins was ready to preach, he pushed a joystick that angled the seat of his wheelchair forward, slowly lifting him to a standing position. Restraints held his body upright. His atrophied right arm lay on an armrest, and with his left hand, he put a microphone to his lips. “Proverbs, chapter fourteen, verse twelve,” he said. “ ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is . . .’ ”

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On December 7, 2016, a drone departed from an Amazon warehouse in the United Kingdom, ascended to an altitude of four hundred feet, and flew to a nearby farm. There it glided down to the front lawn and released from its clutches a small box containing an Amazon streaming device and a bag of popcorn. This was the first successful flight of Prime Air, Amazon’s drone delivery program. If instituted as a regular service, it would slash the costs of “last-mile delivery,” the shortest and most expensive leg of a package’s journey from warehouse to doorstep. Drones don’t get into fender benders, don’t hit rush-hour traffic, and don’t need humans to accompany them, all of which, Amazon says, could enable it to offer thirty-minute delivery for up to 90 percent of domestic shipments while also reducing carbon emissions. After years of testing, Amazon wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration last summer to ask for permission to conduct limited commercial deliveries with its drones, attaching this diagram to show how the system would work. (Amazon insisted that we note that the diagram is not to scale.) Amazon is not the only company working toward such an automated future—­UPS, FedEx, Uber, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have similar programs—­but its plans offer the most detailed vision of what seems to be an impending reality, one in which parce­l-toting drones are a constant presence in the sky, doing much more than just delivering popcorn.

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Every year in Lusk, Wyoming, during the second week of July, locals gather to reenact a day in 1849 when members of a nearby band of Sioux are said to have skinned a white man alive. None of the actors are Native American. The white participants dress up like Indians and redden their skin with body paint made from iron ore.

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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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