Weekly Review — May 31, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

Europe’s most wanted war-crimes suspect, former general Ratko Mladic, was arrested for the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica. Supporters said the 68-year-old Bosnian Serb had suffered two heart attacks and three strokes over the years, and that his condition should preclude a jail sentence. “If you put a bird in a cage you can give them whatever it wants, but itâ??s not going to be happy,” said his lawyer and friend Milos Saljic.New York TimesNew York TimesA U.S. federal judge ruled that Jared Loughner was not competent to stand trial for attempting to assassinate Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a decision that came after Loughner was evicted from the courtroom for an outburst in which he reportedly said “Thank you for the freak show.” New York TimesThe final episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” aired.New York TimesFewer than 15 minutes before the expiry of the Patriot Act, President Barack Obama signed an extension to the law from Paris with an autopen, the first time a president has used the instrument to ratify legislation.New York TimesObama was on a six-day trip to Europe, during which he flubbed a toast to Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace, continuing to speak even though the orchestra had started playing “God Save the Queen.” “That’s very kind,” said the Queen to Obama.Althouse

Democrat Kathy Hochul won a special election to become the CongressionalRepresentative for New York’s District 26, a seat Republicans have held for four decades. Republicans denied that Hochul’s victory was a response to their proposal to privatize Medicare, even though Hochul was thought certain to lose until she began attacking her opponent for supporting the plan. New York TimesTests revealed that DNA found on the shirt of a Manhattan hotel maid belonged to former I.M.F. leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whom the maid had accused of sexual assault. The Globe and MailTwo New York City police officers were acquitted of charges that they raped a drunken woman after helping her into her apartment; one officer had admitted to snuggling with the woman while she wore only a bra. New York TimesA Kansas womenâ??s group launched a campaign to send spare tires to state representative Pete DeGraaf for his defense of a bill that prohibits general health insurance plans from covering abortions, even for victims of rape and incest. “We do need to plan ahead, donâ??t we, in life?” DeGraaf had said, suggesting women buy a separate plan to cover abortions. “I have a spare tire on my car,” he added. Wichita EagleScientists revealed that to avoid unwanted sexual advances, female copper butterflies close their wings. BBC

Ninety-four-year-old Surrealist (and former lover of Max Ernst) Leonora Carrington died, as did 104-year-old heiress Huguette Clark at New York’s Beth Israel Medical Center, surrounded by the French dolls she had collected since childhood.New York TimesParaguay’s AsunciĂłn zoo sought a mate for Coco, the last known male hyacinth macaw in the country, and officials said the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, would take place despite a deadly outbreak of horse herpes in the West. Associated PressDenver PostA truck driver in New Zealand was almost killed after falling buttocks-first onto an active compressed-air hose. Doctors said they were surprised the manâ??s skin didnâ??t burst, since the air separated his fat from his muscle. BBCInfrared satellite images of Egypt revealed 17 previously unknown pyramids. BBCIn England, police used a helicopter to apprehend a teenager who accidentally broke a window while playing soccer outside with his friends, and a school banned pupils from exchanging handshakes, high-fives, and hugs. AnanovaAnanovaA 34-year-old high school chemistry teacher in California was arrested for helping three students get high with chloroform; a Salt Lake City mother tried to sell her 13-year-old daughter’s virginity for $10,000; and activists fought to get a measure outlawing circumcision for boys younger than 18 onto Santa Monica’s November 2012 ballot. In response to concerns that HIV rates would rise as a result, measure-supporter Jena Troutman said, “If you’re raising a dumb kid who won’t use a condom, then go ahead and cut off two thirds of his nerve endings and one half of his penile skin.” Merced Sun-StarWLS 890AMLA Times

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Good Bad Bad Good·

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About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

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Ihave had many names, but as a sniper I went by Azad, which means “free” or “freedom” in Kurdish. I had been fighting for sixteen months in Kurdish territory in northern Syria when in April 2015 I was asked to leave my position on the eastern front, close to the Turkish border, and join an advance on our southwestern one. Eight months earlier, we had been down to our last few hundred yards, and, outnumbered five to one, had made a last stand in Kobanü. In January, after more than four months of fighting street-to-street and room-by-room, we recaptured the town and reversed what was, until then, an unstoppable jihadi tide. In the battles since, we had pushed ­ISIS far enough in every direction that crossing our territory was no longer a short dash through the streets but a five-hour drive across open country. As we set out to the north, I could make out the snowy peaks in southern Turkey where they say Noah once beached his ark. Below them, rolling toward us, were the wide, grassy valleys and pine forests of Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris where our people have lived for twelve thousand years.

The story of my people is filled with bitter ironies. The Kurds are one of the world’s oldest peoples and, as pioneers of agriculture, were once among its most advanced. Though the rest of the world now largely overlooks that it was Kurds who were among the first to create a civilization, the evidence is there. In 1995, German archaeologists began excavating a temple at Göbekli Tepe in northern Kurdistan. They found a structure flanked by stone pillars carved with bulls, foxes, and cranes, which they dated to around 10,000 bce. At the end of the last Ice Age, and seven thousand years before the erection of Stonehenge or the pyramids at Giza, my ancestors were living together as shamans, artists, farmers, and engineers.

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America’s Constitution was once celebrated as a radical and successful blueprint for democratic governance, a model for fledgling republics across the world. But decades of political gridlock, electoral corruption, and dysfunction in our system of government have forced scholars, activists, and citizens to question the document’s ability to address the thorniest issues of modern ­political life.

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Life after Life·

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.
—Chaucer

I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

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Power of Attorney·

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In a Walmart parking lot in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 2015, a white police officer named Stephen Rankin shot and killed an unarmed, eighteen-­year-­old black man named William Chapman. “This is my second one,” he told a bystander seconds after firing the fatal shots, seemingly in reference to an incident four years earlier, when he had shot and killed another unarmed man, an immigrant from Kazakhstan. Rankin, a Navy veteran, had been arresting Chapman for shoplifting when, he claimed, Chapman charged him in a manner so threatening that he feared for his life, leaving him no option but to shoot to kill—­the standard and almost invariably successful defense for officers when called to account for shooting civilians. Rankin had faced no charges for his earlier killing, but this time, something unexpected happened: Rankin was indicted on a charge of first-­degree murder by Portsmouth’s newly elected chief prosecutor, thirty-­one-year-­old Stephanie Morales. Furthermore, she announced that she would try the case herself, the first time she had ever prosecuted a homicide. “No one could remember us having an actual prosecution for the killing of an unarmed person by the police,” Morales told me. “I got a lot of feedback, a lot of people saying, ‘You shouldn’t try this case. If you don’t win, it may affect your reelection. Let someone else do it.’ ”

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

A federal judge authored a 69-page ruling preventing New York City from enforcing zoning laws pertaining to adult bookstores and strip clubs.

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