Weekly Review — July 26, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

A bomb exploded at the Norwegian capitol building in Oslo, killing eight people. Hours later, a gunman opened fire at an island camp for young members of Norway’s ruling Labor Party, killing another 76, many of them teenagers. Police took into custody 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik, who claimed responsibility for both attacks. “We are not sure whether he was alone or had help,” said a Norwegian police official. “What we know is that he is right-wing and a Christian fundamentalist.” On the day of the attack, Breivik posted online a 1,500-page manifesto entitled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” in which he claimed membership in a militant group that planned to “seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.” The document, which describes a 2002 meeting in London to re-establish the Knights Templar and begin a new Crusade against Muslims, borrows from the writings of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, and quotes extensively from anti-Muslim American bloggers. Breivik’s manifesto also criticizes the feminization of European males as paving the way for the Islamization of the continent. “The female manipulation of males has been institutionalised during the last decades,” he wrote, adding that in the “destructive and suicidal Sex and the City lifestyle (modern feminism, sexual revolution) ? men are not men anymore, but metro sexual and emotional beings that are there to serve the purpose as a never-criticising soul mate to the new age feminist woman goddess.”BBC NewsVoice of AmericaNewserNew York TimesNew York TimesThe Daily BeastNew York State approved its first same-sex marriages under a marriage-equality bill passed last month. In New York City, 659 couples received marriage licenses and 483 were wed. “We feel a little more human today,” said Ray Durand, 68, after marrying his longtime partner. Said Democratic State Senator Ruben Díaz Sr. at a rally protesting the new law, “Today, we start the war.”New York Times

Negotiations collapsed between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner on a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling before the U.S. Treasury runs out of money. As described by Obama, the deal would have cut discretionary spending by more than $1 trillion and entitlement programs by $650 billion, and would have added $1.2 trillion in revenue from the elimination of tax loopholes and deductions. “It??s hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal,” Obama said. Boehner countered that “the White House moved the goal posts” by asking for “more money at the last minute ?? and the only way to get that extra revenue was to raise taxes.”Washington PostNew York TimesThe United Nations declared a famine in southern Somalia, where drought has destroyed the past two harvests.Voice of America“Rehab” singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home at age 27, British portraitist Lucian Freud died at age 88, and an asthmatic South African man presumed dead by his family woke up after nearly 24 hours in the morgue and called out for help, leading two mortuary attendants to flee the building because they thought they’d heard a ghost.CBS NewsThe TelegraphThe Cape TimesA man opened fire during his son’s 11th birthday party at a roller skating rink in Grand Prairie, Texas, killing his estranged wife and four members of her family before taking his own life, and a leopard mauled 11 people in a village in the Indian state of West Bengal.The Seattle TimesAssociated Press

Two former News International executives claimed that James Murdoch had lied in his presentation before Parliament about the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. “It now seems to be everyone for themselves,” said Labour MP Paul Farrelly. “They??re all fighting like rats in a sack.”New York TimesKorean scientists determined that the shaking of a Seoul skyscraper, which shut down the building for two days, was caused not by an earthquake but by a Tae Bo class in the building??s gym; violent winds in Australia caused waterfalls south of Sydney to flow upward into the air; and Bob Dylan’s grandson, Pablo, released a rap single. “I mean, really, my grandfather,” said Pablo, “I consider him the Jay-Z of his time.”San Francisco GateBBC NewsThe AwlResidents of Arizona objected to recent dust storms being referred to by meteorologists as “haboobs.” “While other countries in the world may call them that, this is the United States,” wrote one reader of the Arizona Republic. “This is Arizona, not some Middle Eastern nation.”New York TimesArizona Republic

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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.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

Constitution in Crisis·

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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.

Does the path out of our current era of stalemate, minority rule, and executive abuse require amending the Constitution? Do we need a new constitutional convention to rewrite the document and update it for the twenty-­first century? Should we abolish it entirely?

This spring, Harper’s Magazine invited five lawmakers and scholars to New York University’s law school to consider the constitutional crisis of the twenty-­first century. The event was moderated by Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown and the author of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon.

Life after Life·

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

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.

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.’ ”

Secrets and Lies·

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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.

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


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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Happiness Is a Worn Gun


“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

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