Weekly Review — November 2, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Mail bombs sent from Yemen and addressed to a Chicago synagogue were intercepted by law enforcement officials in Britain and Dubai acting on a last minute tip, by way of Saudi intelligence, from Jaber al-Faifi, a “repentant” Al Qaeda operative and former Guantanamo Bay detainee. The bombs, which appear to have been intended to explode mid-air in transatlantic cargo flights, had already been on four planes, two of them carrying passengers, before they were discovered.New York TimesYemeni officials detained engineering student Hanan al-Samawi, whose name and cell phone number were found on one of the packages, but released her when a shipping agent confirmed that a different woman had used al-Samawi’s name when signing the shipping manifest.Christian Science MonitorAmerican officials believed that the bombs were made by top Al Qaeda in Yemen bombmaker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the likely maker of last year’s underwear bomb, and said they did not know how many more explosives were in transit. “We’re trying to get a better handle on what else may be out there,” said deputy national security adviser John Brennan. “We’re trying to understand better what we may be facing.”Washington PostAs Iraqi forces stormed a church in Baghdad, gunmen holding hostages there set off two suicide vests filled with ball bearings, killing 58 and wounding 75 more. “It’s a horrible scene,” said Iraqi police officer Hussain Nahidh. “Many people went to the hospitals without legs and hands.” Iraqi defense minister Abdul-Kader Jassem al-Obeidi called it “a successful operation with a minimum of casualties.” The militant group Islamic State of Iraq called the church “the dirty den of idolatry” and promised further attacks against Iraqi Christians.New York TimesA Nebraska man was arrested for waterboarding his girlfriend.The Smoking Gun

The most expensive midterm election in the country’s history neared an end with both parties expecting Republicans to regain control of the House and contend for control of the Senate.New York TimesAmong the vulnerable Democratic incumbents was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, whose opponent, Sharron Angle, campaigned in Las Vegas with Jon Voight.PoliticoPresident Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and OhioRepresentative John Boehner, who is expected to become the new Speaker of the House, all campaigned in Ohio. “Remember when Ronald Reagan was president?” Boehner asked. “We had Bob Hope. We had Johnny Cash. Think about where we are today. We have got President Obama. But we have no hope and we have no cash.” New York TimesPresident Obama declined to endorse Frank Caprio, the Democratic candidate for governor in Rhode Island, who is running against former Republican senator and Obama supporter Lincoln Chafee. Caprio replied that Obama could “shove it.”LA TimesVince McMahon, the head of World Wrestling Entertainment and the husband of Connecticut Senate candidate Linda McMahon, challenged the state’s policy that bans on election paraphernalia near polling places could extend to WWE t-shirts.New Haven RegisterA volunteer for Rand Paul’s Kentucky Senate campaign stomped on the neck of a liberal protester,New York Timesa 23-year-old Rochester man was arrested and charged with planning to kill former President George W. Bush,CNNand Comedy Central’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” drew an estimated 215,000 to the Mall in Washington.CBS NewsKennedy Administration advisor and speechwriter Ted Sorensen died.Washington Post

The thirty-three recently rescued Chilean miners played a soccer match against their rescuers and were welcomed at the national palace by President Sebastian Pinera.Yahoo NewsPinera apologized for writing “Deutschland über alles” in the guest book of German President Christian Wulff while on a visit to thank Germany for its help in the rescue efforts.Der SpiegelA pastor in South Africa declared that Jesus was HIV positive, BBC Newsand police in the Maldives promised to investigate after a video surfaced of a British couple participating in what they seem to have believed was a marriage-vow renewal ceremony. “You fornicate and make a lot of children,” the officiant was really saying, in a local language that the couple did not understand. “You drink and you eat pork. Most of the children that you have are marked with spots and blemishes. These children that you have are bastards.”BBC News

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That year, the year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. I’d found the place just as September’s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole I’d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.

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I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she still is, that girl on the screen: hair that tangles, freckles across her nose that in time will spread across one side of her forehead. A body that can throw a baseball the way her father has shown her. A body in which bones and hormones lie in wait, ready to bloom into the wide hips her mother has given her. A body that has scars: the scars over her lungs and heart from the scalpel that saved her when she was a baby, the invisible scars left by a man who touched her when she was young. A body is a record or a body is freedom or a body is a battleground. Already, at eight, she knows it to be all three.

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The writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes lives in a nondescript modern building in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris. I know it well: it has a Bricorama—like a French Home Depot—on the ground floor, where we sometimes had cause to shop back when we lived in the neighborhood. The people who work there seemed to hate their jobs more than most; they were often absent from the sales floor. In the elevator to Despentes’s apartment, I marvel that while I was trying to get someone to help me find bathroom grout she was right upstairs, with her partner, Tania, a Spanish tattoo artist who goes by the name La Rata, like someone out of one of Despentes’s novels.

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That night at the window, looking out at the street full of snow, big flakes falling through the streetlight, I listened to what Anna was saying. She was speaking of a man named Karl. We both knew him as a casual acquaintance—thin and lanky like Ichabod Crane, with long hair—operating a restaurant down in the village whimsically called the Gist Mill, with wood paneling, a large painting of an old gristmill on a river on one wall, tin ceilings, and a row of teller cages from its previous life as a bank. Karl used to run along the river, starting at his apartment in town and turning back about two miles down the path. He had been going through the divorce—this was a couple of years ago, of course, Anna said—and was trying to run through his pain.

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