Weekly Review — November 23, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

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

The wire master and his puppets, 1875.

After seven years of litigation, more than 10,000 firefighters, police officers, and other workers who sued New York City over health damages they suffered during the September 11 recovery efforts approved a settlement worth at least $625 million, with individual payouts ranging from $3,250 to $1.8 million, depending on the severity of the illness.New York TimesSalvatore Giunta, an army sergeant who ran into enemy fire to aid fellow soldiers during an ambush in Afghanistan in 2007, became the first living service member to receive the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. The honor was questioned by Bryan Fischer, a conservative columnist, who lamented that the famed prize has been “feminized” by celebrating acts of rescue instead of fighting: “When are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things, so our families can sleep safely at night?”ReutersWashington PostPolitics DailyPresident Obama announced plans for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014, though NATO representatives predicted the country would still be facing “eye-watering” levels of violence, and Target, a dog rescued from Afghanistan after she alerted troops to a suicide bomber and saved dozens of soldiers, was accidentally euthanized at an Arizona shelter.AP via MSNBCThe GuardianCNNIn Inspire, its online magazine, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula declared its commitment to a strategy “of a thousand cuts,” in which it would continue to force the U.S. to spend billions of dollars to guard against inexpensive, small-scale attacks such as the mailing of parcel bombs from Yemen to America last month. “It is such a good bargain for us to spread fear amongst the enemy and keep him on his toes in exchange of a few months of work and a few thousand bucks.”ReutersAhmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first former Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in a civilian court, was acquitted of all but one of 280 charges of conspiracy and murder in the 1998 terrorist bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Tanzania.New York Times

A Chinese woman was seized by police on her wedding day and sentenced to a year in a labor camp for retweeting a post that mocked Chinese protesters who smashed Japanese products during a recent demonstration, and in Egypt, Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 26-year-old blogger, was released after serving four years in prison on charges of insulting Islam.ReutersCNNReutersPope Benedict XVI conceded that in exceptional circumstances, such as when a male prostitute is infected with HIV, condom use can be acceptable. Reuters via Yahoo NewsU.S. Roman Catholic bishops held an emergency workshop to train clerics to perform exorcisms.ReutersBill Clinton filmed a cameo for the movie “The Hangover 2,” and scientists warned that wild tigers, of which only 3,200 remain, could become extinct in a dozen years if protective measures were not taken.The Baltimore SunReutersAP via MSNBCNorth Korea revealed a new, sophisticated nuclear facility capable of enriching uranium to a visiting American scientist, and an international team of physicists announced that for the first time they were able to trap antimatter, 38 anti-hydrogen atoms, for one-tenth of a second.AP via Fox NewsAPAlaska Senator Lisa Murkowski won re-election, becoming the first write-in candidate to win a Senate seat since Strom Thurmond’s victory in 1954.Washington PostNancy Pelosi was elected House minority leader, pointing out that incoming Speaker of the House Representative John Boehner “is known to cry.”The GuardianCBS NewsFox NewsBritish scientists discovered that, like gangsters running a protection racket, drongo birds in the Kalahari Desert act as lookouts for other birds in order to steal a cut of their food catch. Instead of keeping a low profile, though, drongos advertise their presence by issuing a call known as a “twank” every 4 or 5 seconds.Science DailySarah Palin’s 16-year-old daughter, Willow, admonished a Facebook friend who criticized her mother’s new reality show: “Haha your so gay. What I’ve seen pictures of, your disgusting . . . stfu. Your such a faggot.”TMZMark Twain’s 760-page autobiography was released 100 years after his death, per his instructions, and immediately became a bestseller.New York Times

A British gamer who took out a mortgage in 2005 to buy virtual real estate in Entropia, a massive multiplayer game, sold his make-believe nightclub for $635,000, and Oxford University researchers discovered that the game Tetris can help prevent the flashbacks associated with the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder, calling it a “cognitive vaccine” if played soon after exposure to trauma.The Daily MailLos Angeles TimesIn Haiti, relief workers were seeking donations of soap to curb the current outbreak of cholera; a bar of soap costs about 50 cents, but because most Haitians live on less than $1.25 a day, they often choose to buy food instead. ReutersWashington PostFor only the second time, the U.S. government approved a test on human subjects of a treatment using embryonic stem cells, in this case to combat a disease that causes vision loss. AP via Yahoo NewsNearly 2,000 fetuses were found at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, where they were buried in plastic bags after having been illegally aborted over the past year, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reflected that the best age for girls to get married is between 16 and 18.MSNBCReutersA Minnesota couple were asking visitors to their website to vote on whether they should keep or abort the wife’s fetus; 80 percent of the 75,000 respondents wanted Alisha Arnold to give birth to the 17-week-old male fetus she calls “Wiggles.”Reuters via Los Angeles Times

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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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