Weekly Review — April 12, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

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

A kinkajou, 1886.

Less than an hour and a half before a budget-negotiation stalemate would have necessitated the first U.S. government shutdown since 1995, Democrats and Republicans worked out a compromise. The stopgap agreement, which will fund government operations until Thursday, April 14, proposes a $38-billion reduction in annual spending, the largest ever budget cut, achieved by slashing mainly health and education allocations, including public housing, as well as Pell grants for low-income college students. The military, however, would receive $5 billion more than it did last year.NYTProtesters had planned a demonstration during which they would deposit trash outside the home of John Boehner, but cancelled it in the wake of the budget deal.WPNPRWSJWLTXFox NewsAmid word that he will announce his candidacy for president, Donald Trump continued to search for Barack Obama??s birth certificate by sending a team of investigators to Hawaii. “I don??t like to talk about this issue too much,” Trump said on CNN, “because I really would rather talk about China.”Fox NewsResearchers concluded that liberals have larger anterior cingulate cortices than conservatives, indicating a greater ability to deal with conflicting information; that conservatives have larger amygdalae, indicating a greater ability to recognize threats; and that members of Congress spend 27 percent of their time taunting one another.CNNScience DailyWP

Muammar Qaddafi agreed to a peace plan, proposed by the African Union, that calls for a cease-fire and the disbursal of humanitarian aid, but Libyan rebels rejected it. “From the first day,” said rebel leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil, “the demand of our people has been the ouster of Qaddafi and the fall of his regime.”BloombergSeventy-five-year-old Hayastan Shakarian, who is accused of disabling Internet service in Armenia and Georgia by accidentally cutting through a fiber-optic cable while searching for scrap metal, pleaded innocent. “I have no idea what the Internet is,” she said.SMHAFPScientists discovered what they claimed to be the first known gay caveman; others said he was neither gay nor a caveman.Daily MailScientists also hypothesized that feathered dinosaurs had lice and determined that yawns are contagious among chimpanzees.Discovery NewsBBCIn Sweden, an anteater at a zoo broke into the flamingo compound and murdered ten flamingoes, and the country’s National Board for Consumer Disputes fined the organizers of a Hawaiian colon-cleanse course after insufficient toilets forced one participant to empty her bowels outside, with spectators. “The vast majority would prefer,” wrote the Board in its decision, “the possibility to defecate in private.”The LocalThe LocalAn F/A-18 fighter jet crashed into a field in central California, and a Royal Navy serviceman shot two people onboard the HMS Astute, a nuclear submarine.ABCGuardianThe Obama Administration announced its decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before a military commission rather than in a civilian court, and New York representative Peter King, who last month led hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims, received a severed pig’s foot in the mail.NYTNYDN

Oceanographers mapped the course of the “island of debris” that resulted from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Ships, houses, cars, and human remains are expected to wash up on Hawaiian shores within a year, and on Californian shores within three years.CNNAfter sixty-six days at sea, Anthony Smith, an 85-year-old sailor, completed with three friends a voyage across the Atlantic in a raft. Smith was able to pay for the raft after a van accident broke his hip and he received compensation. “Some people say it was mad,” he said of his journey. “What else do you do when you get on in years?”Daily MailMSNBCA Mesquite, Texas, police officer caused outrage after repeatedly administering pepper spray to a baby squirrel that had been following students around a middle school, and a teenager was arrested after trying to smuggle five pounds of marijuana from Mexico into the United States hidden in the seat of a wheelchair.FoxKTLAKristen LaBrie, whose nine-year-old son died of leukemia in 2009, stood trial on the charge of attempted murder for withholding from him at least five months of chemotherapy medications. “I didn’t actually see the cancer make him very sick,” she told the prosecutor. “What I saw make him very sick was the two weeks they blasted him with chemotherapy.”Cw56A fifth grader with no hands won a penmanship award in the National Handwriting Contest.CNN

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Thirty miles from the coast, on a desert plateau in the Judaean Mountains without natural resources or protection, Jerusalem is not a promising site for one of the world’s great cities, which partly explains why it has been burned to the ground twice and besieged or attacked more than seventy times. Much of the Old City that draws millions of tourists and Holy Land pilgrims dates back two thousand years, but the area ­likely served as the seat of the Judaean monarchy a full millennium before that. According to the Bible, King David conquered the Canaanite city and established it as his capital, but over centuries of destruction and rebuilding all traces of that period were lost. In 1867, a British military officer named Charles Warren set out to find the remnants of David’s kingdom. He expected to search below the famed Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, but the Ottoman authorities denied his request to excavate there. Warren decided to dig instead on a slope outside the Old City walls, observing that the Psalms describe Jerusalem as lying in a valley surrounded by hills, not on top of one.

On a Monday morning earlier this year, I walked from the Old City’s Muslim Quarter to the archaeological site that Warren unearthed, the ancient core of Jerusalem now known as the City of David. In the alleys of the Old City, stone insulated the air and awnings blocked the sun, so the streets were cold and dark and the mood was somber. Only the pilgrims were up this early. American church groups filed along the Via Dolorosa, holding thin wooden crosses and singing a hymn based on a line from the Gospel of Luke: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Narrow shops sold gardenia, musk, and amber incense alongside sweatshirts promoting the Israel Defense Forces.

I passed through the Western Wall Plaza to the Dung Gate, popularly believed to mark the ancient route along which red heifers were led to the Temple for sacrifice. Outside the Old City walls, in the open air, I found light and heat and noise. Tour buses lined up like train cars along the ridge. Monday is the day when bar and bat mitzvahs are held in Israel, and drumbeats from distant celebrations mixed with the pounding of jackhammers from construction sites nearby. When I arrived at the City of David, workmen were refinishing the wooden deck at the site’s entrance and laying down a marble mosaic by the ticket window.

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Eleven years ago, on a bitter January night, dozens of young men, dressed in a uniform of black berets, white T-­shirts, and black pants, gathered on a hill overlooking the Nigerian city of Jos, shouting, dancing, and shooting guns into the black sky. A drummer pounded a rhythmic beat. Amid the roiling crowd, five men crawled toward a candlelit dais, where a white-­robed priest stood holding an axe. Leading them was John, a sophomore at the local college, powerfully built and baby-faced. Over the past six hours, he had been beaten and burned, trampled and taunted. He was exhausted. John looked out at the landscape beyond the priest. It was the harmattan season, when Saharan sand blots out the sky, and the city lights in the distance blurred in John’s eyes as if he were underwater.

John had been raised by a single mother in Kaduna, a hardscrabble city in Nigeria’s arid north. She’d worked all hours as a construction supplier, but the family still struggled to get by. Her three boys were left alone for long stretches, and they killed time hunting at a nearby lake while listening to American rap. At seventeen, John had enrolled at the University of Jos to study business. Four hours southeast of his native Kaduna, Jos was another world, temperate and green. John’s mother sent him an allowance, and he made cash on the side rearing guard dogs for sale in Port Harcourt, the perilous capital of Nigeria’s oil industry. But it wasn’t much. John’s older brother, also studying in Jos, hung around with a group of Axemen—members of the Black Axe fraternity—who partied hard and bought drugs and cars. Local media reported a flood of crimes that Axemen had allegedly committed, but his brother’s friends promised John that, were he to join the group, he wouldn’t be forced into anything illegal. He could just come to the parties, help out at the odd charity drive, and enjoy himself. It was up to him.

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I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t get up—­just couldn’t get up, couldn’t get up or leave. All day lying in that median, unable. Was this misery or joy?

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The Catholic School, by Edoardo Albinati. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1,280 pages. $40.

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