Weekly Review — March 8, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Muammar Qaddafi’s forces in Libya continued air strikes against antigovernment forces as fighting there devolved into civil war. Rebels took control of the oil port at Ras Lanuf but were beaten back at the coastal town of Bin Jawwad, which Qaddafi recaptured with the help of air strikes that killed at least five people. Saying he was “deeply concerned” about the fighting, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon promised that he would send a new “special envoy to Libya” to meet with officials in Tripoli. New York TimesCNNThe Obama Administration resisted urging from Senators John Kerry, Mitch McConnell, and John McCain to establish a no-fly zone over the country. “Lots of people throw around phrases like no-fly zone,” said White House chief of staff William M. Daley. “They talk about it as though it’s just a video game.” “Let’s just call a spade a spade,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya.” Gates made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to meet with U.S. troops and Afghan leaders. “You’ve had a tough winter,” he told the troops. “It’s going to be a tougher spring and summer.”New York TimesUSA TodayWall Street JournalAfghan President Hamid Karzai refused to accept an apology from U.S. General David Petraeus over a coalition helicopter attack that killed nine Afghan teenagers last week. “Civilian casualties are the main cause of a worsening relationship between Afghanistan and the U.S.,” Karzai said.Wall Street JournalThe U.S. Army announced new fitness requirements for the first time in 30 years. “There have been all kinds of rumors about what this is and what it isn’t,” said General Mark Hertling. “People have said, ‘It’s yoga-like, it’s like Pilates’ ? And frankly, it is all those things.” Christian Science Monitor

The House’s Homeland Security Committee prepared for upcoming Congressional hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims, despite criticism that the hearings unfairly targeted a specific religious group. “We know that Al Qaeda is not going to be recruiting in a Knights of Columbus Hall,” said committee chair Peter King (R., N.Y.). “It’s going to be recruiting within the Muslim community.”Daily NewsNegotiations broke down between Wisconsin’s Democratic state senators and Governor Scott Walker over Walker’s proposal to cut benefits and eliminate collective-bargaining rights for state workers. The senators, who left the state last month to prevent passage of the bill, acknowledged that they would likely be forced to return without a compromise solution. “We will have accomplished some of our purpose,” said State Senator Fred Risser. “To slow things up and let people know what was in this bill.” Wisconsin lawmakers were also considering a bill to ban prank phone calls.Washington PostNew York TimesThe Wisconsin Badger Herald

State legislators in Ohio announced plans to call two fetuses as witnesses during abortion hearings before the House Health and Aging Committee. Projection screens will display their ultrasound images.Cleveland Plain DealerBritish officials released 8,500 pages of documents relating to UFO sightings dating back more than 50 years. The documents included an account by a London man who said he was abducted by aliens after seeing a large “cigar-shaped vehicle” in the sky and that he gained an hour of time in the process of the abduction. Government officials wrote back to the man, telling him that the vehicle was an airship and the change of time was due to daylight savings.MSNBCFrank Buckles, the last surviving American veteran of World War I, died at 110, and Phil Collins retired from the music business. “I don’t think anyone will miss me,” he said.LA TimesCNNA tractor-trailer crash in southwest Missouri spilled 40,000 pounds of mayonnaise on Interstate 44, and a Northwestern University professor apologized after holding a demonstration in front of 100 students from his human-sexuality class in which a man repeatedly penetrated his naked fiancée with a “fucksaw.” “It is probably something I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Northwestern senior Justin Smith. “I can’t say that about my Econ 202 class.”Kansas City StarThe daily NorthwesternChicago Tribune

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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.

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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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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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