Weekly Review — November 22, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

Egyptian troops killed at least 30 people and wounded at least 1,250 when demonstrators descended on Cairo’s Tahrir Square following an attempt by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to delay a presidential election and increase the military’s power under Egypt’s forthcoming constitution. The country’s interim civilian cabinet submitted its resignation, and a Supreme Council spokesman urged protesters to consider the damage they were doing to the economy. “There is an invisible hand in the square,” he said, “causing a rift between the army and the people.”MSNBCNew York TimesNew York TimesA police officer at the University of California, Davis was suspended after casually pepper-spraying a row of seated Occupy protesters who were blockading their tents; Seattle police pepper-sprayed an 84-year-old woman, a priest, and a pregnant teenager while clearing Occupy Seattle; and New York City police swept into Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park with noise cannons and Klieg lights, forcing out Occupy Wall Street protesters. Police vans obscured street-level views of the operation, the airspace above lower Manhattan was closed to news helicopters, and a half-dozen reporters were arrested. In a press conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said health and safety concerns took precedence over free speech. “New York City is the city where you can come and express yourself,” he said. “What was happening in Zuccotti Park was not that.” Two days later, as thousands of protesters marched past the New York Stock Exchange, Bloomberg spent the morning tweeting about the dangers of tobacco.Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostNew YorkerGuardianJosh SternsNew York TimesGuardianTwitterTwitterTwitter

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho was charged with attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama after it was discovered he had fired nine rounds at the White House, cracking a window, while the First Family was out of town. In an “Oprah” audition tape uncovered by journalists, Ortega-Hernandez said, “I am the modern-day Jesus Christ that you all have been waiting for,” and, “When humans party, they party hard.”AP via New York TimesNew York MagazineBrazilian troops took control of Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela, to clean it up in advance of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. In the middle of the slum, police searched a mansion belonging to Sandro Luiz de Paula Amorim, a kingpin in the Friends of Friends drug gang, and found a copy of Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.”AP via Yahoo NewsIn China, where officials presented Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin with the Confucius Peace Prize for his “iron hand and toughness” during the Second Chechen War, a nine-seat van packed with 62 kindergartners collided with a truck, killing at least 18 children.NY TimesAP via MSNBCA signed copy of alleged child molester and former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s memoir, “Touched,” sold on eBay for $510.eBayMichele Bachmann shared her family’s Thanksgiving pie preferences with reporters, while Herman Cain discussed his pizza preferences. “My husband likes French silk,” said Bachmann, “so if he’s really good, he gets French silk.” “The more toppings a man has on his pizza, the more manly he is,” said Cain, adding, “A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza.”US NewsGQPETA requested that Turkey, Texas, change its name to Tofurky in time for Thanksgiving, offering in exchange meals of Tofurky with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes with vegan margarine, and vegan apple pie with non-dairy ice cream. “We are insulted,” said one Turkey resident. “We like Turkey. We are proud to be Turkey.”PETAConnect Amarillo

Moody’s downgraded its outlook on Pilgrim’s Pride, Congress determined that tomato paste was a vegetable, a man in California was arrested after skinning and eating a bobcat while high on meth, and sailors on the USS George H. W. Bush continued to look for a working toilet.Business WeekAP via MSNBCSan Jose Mercury NewsUPIThe Dutch convened history’s biggest Zumba class, and the Irish assembled the largest-ever group of people dressed as leprechauns.ReutersKarl Slover, one of four surviving Munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz,” died at the age of 93.AP via Access AtlantaA great horned owl named Dakota was kidnapped from a rehabilitation center in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. “He’s very talkative,” said the center’s director, “for an owl.”Milwaukee Journal SentinelIn Switzerland, where dolphins Shadow and Chelmers were fatally injured during a rave, scientists concluded that bumblebees eat their colonies’ feces to protect themselves from the intestinal parasite Crithidia bombi.Daily MailDiscoverSaudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice claimed the right to detain women whose eyes were too tempting, and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority demanded that the country’s wireless carriers block text messages containing any of 1,500 expressions including the English terms “fatso,” “barf-face,” “strap-on,” “cyber slimer,” “ass puppies,” “monkey crotch,” “finger food,” and “axing the weasel,” and an Urdu phrase meaning “sweat of a lizard’s pubic hair.” “Nobody,” said PTA spokesman Mohammed Younis, “would like this happening to their young boy or girl.”Bikya MasrBBCThe GuardianThe World

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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.’ ”

The Assembly of God True Grapevine was little more than a fluorescent-lit room wedged between a bar and an empty lot in Jacaré, a poor neighborhood on Rio de Janeiro’s north side. A few dozen people sat in the rows of plastic lawn chairs that served as pews, while shuddering wall fans circulated hot air. The congregation was largely female; of the few men in attendance, most wore collared shirts and old leather shoes. Now and then, Martins veered from Portuguese into celestial tongues. People rose from their seats, thrust their hands into the air, and shouted, “Hallelujah!”

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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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