Weekly Review — October 26, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

An angry-looking, monkey-like creature showing its teeth.

A kinkajou, 1886.

WikiLeaks released 391,832 U.S. ArmyIraq War field reports. The documents revealed the rampant burning, lashing, and execution of detainees by Iraqi army and police officers; U.S. suspicions that Shiite Iraqi militants were being trained by Iran; the increasing reliance on private contractors to augment the dwindling ranks of soldiers; and approximately 15,000 previously unreported civilian casualties. “This is all classified secret information never designed to be exposed to the public,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell. “Now you will have virtually half a million classified secret documents in the public domain which our enemies clearly intend to use against us.” WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange??who was denied Swedish residency for undisclosed reasons??rejected that claim. “[The Pentagon] cannot find a single person that has been harmed” as a result of the leaking last July of classified documents relating to U.S. operations in Afghanistan, he said. NYTCNNNYTNYTNYTBBCGunmen interrupted a party in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and killed thirteen people, all of whom were under 25, and the Juarez Valley town of Práxedis Guadalupe Guerrero, where eight residents were murdered in the past two weeks, swore in its new police chief, 20-year-old college student Marisol Valles Garcia, who was the only candidate willing to accept the job. “We??re all afraid in Mexico now,” she said. “We can??t let fear beat us.”LATNYPAn unemployed security worker won Spain??s first siesta championship.BBC

Despite the efforts of over a million protesters (who caused the cancellation of thousands of trains, hundreds of flights, and two Lady Gaga concerts), the French Senate voted in favor of a pension-reform measure that would raise the age of retirement from 60 to 62. CNNBoston GlobeBusiness WeekThe European Commission declined to take France to court over its recent expulsion of 8,000 Roma but threatened to impose sanctions on Italy if the country fails to remove piles of trash accumulating in the streets of Naples.EuronewsAP / Google Irish police were investigating the alleged death of a wallaby from alcohol and ecstasy poisoning while at a birthday party, and the Exmoor Emperor, the largest known wild animal in Britain, was shot dead in the West Country.SkyGuardianInvestigators determined that a plane crash last August in Congo was caused by the escape of a crocodile that had been smuggled aboard and had then frightened passengers, who stampeded toward the cockpit, resulting in the deaths of nineteen people, but not the crocodile.News AUAOL NewsScientists concluded that elephants are ecological engineers and that tigers face extinction within twelve years.BBCCBC

Google and the Israel Antiquities Authority declared their intention to digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls.CNN“Rent Is Too Damn High” gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan was revealed not to pay rent, Senator Harry Reid indicated that he has never had to prove his manhood, and New Jersey Republican congressional nominee Jon Runyan, asked to name a recent Supreme Court decision he finds disagreeable, chose Dred Scott.NBCLVRJTPMFollowing their arrest in Vancouver on the charge of squatting in the guest house of a home they once owned, actor Randy Quaid and his wife, Evi, sought Canadian refugee status. “We feel our lives are in danger,” said Evi Quaid, pointing to the suspicious deaths of her husband??s friends David Carradine and Heath Ledger. CTVAPPEgypt banned police from university campuses, and the international Zombie Walk celebrated its ninth year. BBCBrisbane TimesBlogtoRaleigh TechnicianA German chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle Club prepared for war with the Hells Angels.SpiegelHaiti was found to be at risk of yet another big earthquake, and its hospitals were overwhelmed after an outbreak of cholera, forcing hundreds of patients to be treated in parking lots.Miami HeraldBBCSherpa Chhewang Nima, who has climbed Mount Everest nineteen times, went missing after an avalanche, and the Dalai Lama guest edited the “Toronto Star.”BBCToronto StarBob Guccione, the founder of “Penthouse,” died, as did Johnny Sheffield, the actor who played Tarzan’s son on the 1930s movies, several hours after he fell while pruning a palm tree. TelegraphNYTEleven people jumped from a third-floor window in France after a naked African man was mistaken for Satan. “I had to defend myself,” said one man who jumped with a 2-year-old in his arms. SMHIn Syria, a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old got engaged.NYP

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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.

I had come to Washington to witness either the birth of an ideology or what may turn out to be the passing of a kidney stone through the Republican Party. There was a new movement afoot: National Conservatives, they called themselves, and they were gathering here, at the Ritz-Carlton, at 22nd Street and M. Disparate tribes had posted up for the potlatch: reformacons, blood-and-soilers, curious liberal nationalists, “Austrians,” repentant neocons, evangelical Christians, corporate raiders, cattle ranchers, Silicon Valley dissidents, Buckleyites, Straussians, Orthodox Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Tories, dark-web spiders, tradcons, Lone Conservatives, Fed-Socs, Young Republicans, Reaganites in amber. Most straddled more than one category.

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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 . . .’ ”

The congregation finished: “ ‘Death.’ ”

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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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