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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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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When Demétrio Martins was ready to preach, he pushed a joystick that angled the seat of his wheelchair forward, slowly lifting him to a standing position. Restraints held his body upright. His atrophied right arm lay on an armrest, and with his left hand, he put a microphone to his lips. “Proverbs, chapter fourteen, verse twelve,” he said. “ ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is . . .’ ”

The congregation finished: “ ‘Death.’ ”

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On December 7, 2016, a drone departed from an Amazon warehouse in the United Kingdom, ascended to an altitude of four hundred feet, and flew to a nearby farm. There it glided down to the front lawn and released from its clutches a small box containing an Amazon streaming device and a bag of popcorn. This was the first successful flight of Prime Air, Amazon’s drone delivery program. If instituted as a regular service, it would slash the costs of “last-mile delivery,” the shortest and most expensive leg of a package’s journey from warehouse to doorstep. Drones don’t get into fender benders, don’t hit rush-hour traffic, and don’t need humans to accompany them, all of which, Amazon says, could enable it to offer thirty-minute delivery for up to 90 percent of domestic shipments while also reducing carbon emissions. After years of testing, Amazon wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration last summer to ask for permission to conduct limited commercial deliveries with its drones, attaching this diagram to show how the system would work. (Amazon insisted that we note that the diagram is not to scale.) Amazon is not the only company working toward such an automated future—­UPS, FedEx, Uber, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have similar programs—­but its plans offer the most detailed vision of what seems to be an impending reality, one in which parce­l-toting drones are a constant presence in the sky, doing much more than just delivering popcorn.

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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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