Weekly Review — November 1, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Small Family, May 1874]

A Small Family.

A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a Toyota Corolla loaded with an estimated 1,500 pounds of explosives into an armored bus in Kabul, killing 17 people; the Taliban killed three civilians and a policeman in a suicide attack then seized an animal clinic in Kandahar; and Abdisalan Hussein Ali, 22, a former pre-med student at the University of Minnesota, blew himself up in a suicide attack on African Union troops in Mogadishu. “Don’t just sit around, you know,” said Ali in an audio suicide note that was posted online, “and be, you know, a couch potato and just like, just chill all day.”GuardianGuardianNew York TimesNew York TimesThe International Criminal Court tried unsuccessfully to negotiate the surrender of Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the son of Muammar Qaddafi and onetime heir apparent to the Libyan presidency, while the Australian bodyguard of Muammar Qaddafi’s third son, Saadi, revealed that Saadi was smuggled out of Tripoli and into Niger in September.ReutersNew York TimesDigital JournalTelegraphNATO withdrew from Libya after a seven-month bombing campaign, and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad warned the West against a similar intervention in his country. “Do you want to see another Afghanistan,” he asked, “or tens of Afghanistans?”USA TodayTelegraphABC NewsThe Statue of Liberty turned 125, the world’s population reached 7 billion, and a highway in Utah was closed after a flatbed truck overturned and released 20 million bees.New York PostHuffington PostReuters

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra thanked residents of areas north of Bangkok for their sacrifice after water from Thailand’s worst flooding in at least fifty years was diverted away from the capital and into their regions. “I am just hoping this flood wall will break,” said Seksan Sonsak, a factory worker whose house was inundated. “I understand that you want to save the majority, but no one seems to think of us, the minority.”New York TimesProtesters with the “Occupy” movement were arrested in cities including Austin, Denver, Nashville, Richmond, and Oakland, where a 24-year-old Iraq War veteran named Scott Olsen was briefly listed in critical condition after police struck him in the head with a projectile. SalonGuardianBillionaire investor George Soros criticized a new deal signed by European leaders to prevent Greece from defaulting, saying the pact’s 50 percent writedown on privately held bonds was a “haircut” that would reduce Greek debt by only 20 percent.ekathimerini.comArguing for his $447 billion jobs bill, President Barack Obama cited a new Congressional Budget Office report stating that the average after-tax income of the top 1 percent of U.S. households had increased by 275 percent over the past three decades, compared with only 18 percent for those in the bottom quintile.AP via CBS NewsCongressional Budget OfficeNew York mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed calls for a ban on the city’s carriage-horse industry. “Most of the horses probably wouldn’t be alive,” he said, “if they didn’t have a job.”CBS New York

Snow fell on Central Park in October for only the fourth time on record. The storm killed at least 11 people elsewhere in the eastern United States, and left more than 3 million homes and businesses without power.Daily MailGuardianA NASA sting operation at a Denny’s restaurant in California led to the arrest of a 73-year-old grandmother and the recovery of a moon-rock fragment smaller than a grain of rice.AP via Christian Science MonitorA Brooklyn man who made $410,000 brokering three illegal kidney transplants became the first person convicted under a federal statute outlawing black-market organ sales, and inquest papers containing information about the death of singer Amy Winehouse, which was ruled to be the result of “misadventure,” were sent to the wrong address.Thomson ReutersGlobal PostGlobal PostAn eight-month-old baby was found alive in a drawer beneath the wreckage of a building destroyed three days earlier by an earthquake eastern Turkey; a buoyant diaper was credited with saving the life of a Florida toddler after her parents drove into a lake while fighting; and a British mathematician determined that the Zari is the best bobbing apple by using the equation “D = 3 × (2 + T^2) × M ÷ (10 × T)”, where D is diameter, T is typical apple texture, and M is average mouth size.MirrorDaily MailFort Lauderdale Sun-SentinelTelegraphMaria Topp of Wrekenton, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England, pleaded guilty to biting off her boyfriend’s testicles during a drunken brawl. “Until today the defense’s contention was it was caused by her hands,” said the presiding judge. “It is an aggravating feature she used her teeth.”BBCDaily Mail

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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.

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Out of sight on Leros, the island of the damned

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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.

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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.

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 solid-gold toilet named “America” was stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire, England.

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