Weekly Review — December 21, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

A Christian martyr.

Despite criticism from both parties, Congress voted in favor of $858 billion in tax breaks, extending Bush-era tax cuts for the super-rich.Wall Street JournalSenate Democrats failed to bring to a vote a $1.1 trillion spending bill needed to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year. “A number of Republican senators told me they’d like to see this pass,” explained Senate majority leader Harry Reid, “but they can’t support it.”CNNA Virginia judge voided the provision in Obama’s health-care law requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance, insisting that forcing people to have insurance “would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers.”New York TimesCongress voted to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. “Today’s a very sad day. The commandant of the United States Marine Corps says when your life hangs on the line, you don’t want anything distracting,” said Arizona senator John McCain in his closing argument prior to the Senate vote. “You go up to Bethesda Naval Hospital, Marines are up there with no legs, none. You’ve got Marines at Walter Reed with no limbs.” Soon after the vote, Senator Reid tweeted to Lady Gaga, “We did it! DADT is a thing of the past.”PoliticoWashington PostNew York TimesFormer president Jimmy Carter said the United States was ready for a gay president. “I don’t know about the next election,” he clarified, “but in the near future.”BigThinkThe White House approved development in the field of “synthetic biology,” which would allow scientists to manipulate the DNA of organisms in order to create new forms of life. Agence France-PresseJon Bon Jovi was appointed to the White House Council for Community Solutions, and scientists identified the embalmed head of King Henri IV of France. PoliticoBBC

Cuba launched its own version of Wikipedia, which will disseminate knowledge “from a decolonizer point of view.” According to the site’s entry on the United States, it is the “empire of our time, which has historically taken by force territory and natural resources from other nations, to put at the service of its businesses and monopolies.” BBCIt was revealed that Army Private Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to WikiLeaks, has been held in solitary confinement in a military prison for seven months without criminal charges. The Berkeley City Council decided to table a vote on whether Manning should be called a hero.SalonRaw StoryRepresentative-elect Allen West (R., Fl.) denied calling for censorship of the press when he wrote on his Facebook page that the U.S. government “should be censoring the American news agencies which enabled” WikiLeaks to put classified documents “in the public domain.” “The confusion comes from the word censor,” explained West, “when I meant censure.” Raw StoryA University of Maryland study found that those who watched significant amounts of Fox News were more likely to believe widely discredited information.Raw Story

Captain Beefheart died, as did Richard Holbrooke, the former special U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, during heart surgery. “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan,” Holbrooke reportedly told a Pakistani surgeon as he was being sedated. The GuardianCNNThe widow of Bernie Madoff investor Jeffry Picower agreed to turn over $7.2 billion from her husband’s estate to the victims of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.Christian Science MonitorScientists found that African elephants who raid farmers’ crops are stressed out. BBCA man in Las Vegas stole $1.5 million in casino chips from the Bellagio; a bidder in Los Angeles paid $90,000 for the coffin of Lee Harvey Oswald; and a 21-year-old Oklahoma City man admitted to posing as an autistic child while having babysitters change his diaper and feed him formula from a bottle.http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2010/1215/Bellagio-robbery-results-in-1.5M-in-chips-stolen-by-armed-banditBBCNews OKFormer TV chef Juan-Carlos Cruz, “the Calorie Commander,” was sentenced to nine years in prison for attempting to hire two homeless men to kill his wife. APScientists at the University of Iowa were studying a woman who could not feel fear, and therefore had no ability to detect danger. “It’s quite remarkable that she’s still alive,” said one scientist.BBCThieves in Birmingham, Alabama, set the city’s 40-foot Christmas tree ablaze while attempting to steal copper from the tree’s lighting wires; hundreds of Christmas presents collected for low-income families in Oklahoma were ruined when a skunk sprayed them; and a group of drunken revelers dressed as Santa Clauses were ejected from Tiananmen Square. “I think people sort of liked getting kicked out,” one reveler revealed. “I think it added a bit of edginess to what otherwise would just have been a pub crawl.”ReutersKOCORaw Story

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“You’re being reborn,” the voice says. “Exiting the womb of your mother. Coming into the earth as a small baby. Everything is new.” It is a Saturday morning in mid-March, and right now I’m lying on a yoga mat in a lodge in Ohio, surrounded by fifty other men who’ve come to the Midwest for a weekend of manhood-confirming adventures. The voice in question belongs to Aaron Blaine, a facilitator for Evryman, the men’s group orchestrating this three-day retreat. All around me, men are shedding tears as Blaine leads us on a guided meditation, a kind of archetypal montage of Norman Rockwell boyhood. “You’re starting to figure things out,” he says, in somniferous baritone. “Snow, for the first time. Sunshine. Start to notice the smells, the tastes, the confusion. The fear. And you’re growing. You’re about ten years old. The world’s huge and scary.”

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The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding the postwar boom. Those sockless people in Top-Siders, whose ancestors’ names and portraits adorned the walls, were entirely new to me. I made friends with some, but I was not free of a corrosive envy of their habitus of ease and entitlement.

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Last May, the families of students at Cypress Academy, an independent charter school in New Orleans, received an email announcing that the school would close when classes ended the following week and that all its students would be transferred to another nearby charter for the upcoming year. Parents would have the option of entering their children in the city’s charter-enrollment lottery, but the lottery’s first round had already taken place, and the most desirable spots for the fall were filled.

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how high? that high

He had his stick that was used mostly to point at your head if your head wasn’t held up proudly.

I still like that man—Holger! He had been an orphan!

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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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