Weekly Review — July 13, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

In one of the largest spy swaps since the Cold War, ten Russian agents who pleaded guilty to espionage in the United States were flown to Vienna, where they were exchanged for four men who had been found guilty of spying for America and Britain. Asked whether the United States has any spies as “hot” as 28-year-old agent Anna Chapman, who was included in the swap, Vice President Joseph Biden said, “Let me be clear, it wasn’t my idea to send her back.”BBCBBCPresident Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Washington, D.C., where they agreed that, after repeated visits by Netanyahu to the United States, Obama would soon travel to Israel to “redress the balance.” The two men also said that peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians would resume before the current moratorium on settlement construction expired in September, though they did not offer a specific date.New York TimesNetanyahu’s security officials lost a suitcase at New York City’s JFK airport; it was found in Los Angeles, but four Glock 9mm handguns had disappeared. NBC New YorkNATO pilots mistakenly launched an air strike against Afghan soldiers who were trying to capture Taliban militants, killing five, and Iraqi government officials said that some 58,000 stray dogs in Baghdad had been poisoned or shot.New York TimesWashington PostA park in Los Angeles was closed after a squirrel tested positive for the Plague. All Headline News

Tar balls from BP’s exploded wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico washed onto a beach in Texas, the last of the five Gulf states to be affected by the spill, and oil kept gushing from the well as underwater robots worked to affix a new containment cap that BP claims will capture all the oil. “At this point,” said Louisiana charter-boat captain Keith Kennedy, “there have been so many ups and downs, disappointments, that everybody down here is like, ‘We’ll believe it when we see it.'”Time MagazineTalking Points MemoVisitors to the 150th anniversary exhibit of the Gloucester City Museum & Art Gallery lined up to see 1,000-year-old human feces, and a London art gallery was selling jars of jelly made from a strand of Princess Diana’s hair.GadlingOrange NewsScientists learned that the “mustache” worn by the male Molly fish in Mexico attracts females, who are sexually stimulated when the mustache is rubbed against their genitals, and that the erect penis of the giant squid is almost as long as its entire body.BBCA Georgia man was arrested for holding his mother hostage at gunpoint for six hours after she refused to do his ironing.Orange NewsPrince released his new album for free in the Saturday edition of Britain’s “Daily Mirror” to protest illegal downloads on the Internet. “The Internet’s like MTV,” said Prince. “At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.”Daily MirrorThe Chinese Goat Horn Tree, in Saintfield, England, bloomed for the first time in 91 years.BBC

Spain defeated the Netherlands 1â??0 in overtime to become the 2010 World Cup champions. Paul, a psychic octopus housed in a German aquarium, correctly predicted the outcome by eating a mussel from a box marked with the Spanish flag. “We’re so proud of him,” said the aquarium’s manager. Police in Colombia seized a 14-inch World Cup trophy replica made from cocaine, and the United Arab Emirates’ General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments released a fatwa decreeing that, above 100 decibels, vuvuzelas are haraam.New York TimesThe GuardianTime MagazineBBCThe NationalLarge bombs exploded at a restaurant and a rugby club in Kampala, Uganda, killing at least 74 people watching the World Cup; a Somalian militia with links to Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks. WPIran’s Ministry of Culture released a catalogue of acceptable male hairstyles and warned barbers not to pluck men’s eyebrows. Christian Science MonitorWorkers in downtown Cleveland removed a 100-foot-tall billboard of LeBron James after the basketball player announced that to win a championship ring he would leave the Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat. “Some people think,” wrote Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert in an open letter following the announcement, “they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.”WJACTVChicago Sun-TimesA 4′ 11” 31-year-old woman was arrested in Ohio after posing as Matt Abrams, a 14-year-old boy, to woo a teenage girl; scientists discovered that by deleting the FucM gene in female mice they could make the mice lesbians; and the British Supreme Court ruled that foreign homosexuals who cannot live openly in their home countries are entitled to asylum in the United Kingdom. “Just as male heterosexuals are free to enjoy themselves playing rugby, drinking beer, and talking about girls with their mates,” said the judge, “so male homosexuals are to be free to enjoy themselves going to Kylie concerts, drinking exotically colored cocktails, and talking about boys with their straight female mates.”New York Daily NewsThe TelegraphVoice of AmericaDaily Express

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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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I passed through the Western Wall Plaza to the Dung Gate, popularly believed to mark the ancient route along which red heifers were led to the Temple for sacrifice. Outside the Old City walls, in the open air, I found light and heat and noise. Tour buses lined up like train cars along the ridge. Monday is the day when bar and bat mitzvahs are held in Israel, and drumbeats from distant celebrations mixed with the pounding of jackhammers from construction sites nearby. When I arrived at the City of David, workmen were refinishing the wooden deck at the site’s entrance and laying down a marble mosaic by the ticket window.

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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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