Weekly Review — January 31, 2012, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

A Christian martyr.

Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich released their most recent tax returns. Romney’s showed that he made $21.6 million in 2010, paid taxes at a rate of 14 percent, and gave $4 million to the Mormon church over two years. Gingrich’s return showed that he earned $3.1 million last year and may have cheated on his taxes. Washington PostChristian Science MonitorForbesLos Angeles TimesPresident Barack Obama made increasing the tax rate on the super-rich a theme of his State of the Union address, saying, “Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary,” whom experts calculated earns between $200,000 and $500,000 a year.Daily MailA Wall Street Journal reporter compared the practice, begun in 2011, of having Republicans and Democrats sit next to each other during the State of the Union to date rape, and a Chrysler 300C once leased by President Obama was listed on eBay with a starting bid of $1 million. “It’s all about the money for me,” said the car’s owner, a self-described Reagan conservative. Raw StoryCNN Money via WGALThe Republican candidates faced off in their nineteenth primary debate, and former presidential candidate Herman Cain, jailed former congressman Duke Cunningham, and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin threw their support behind Gingrich. “Both party machines… are trying to crucify Newt Gingrich for bucking the tide,” explained Palin. “Rage against the machine, vote for Newt. Annoy a liberal, vote Newt.”CNNRaw StoryHuffington PostWashington PostPETA was offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who killed an Arkansas Democratic campaign manager’s cat and left it on his doorstep with the word “liberal” written across its body, and a penguin named Paula defecated in the chamber of the Kentucky Senate.CBSRaw Story

Outside the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, protesters built igloos to stay warm, while inside, software company Tibco announced a new social-networking site that would allow the planet’s 200 richest people to friend world leaders.New York TimesDaily MailTwitter announced that it would selectively censor tweets at the request of governments, and clashes in Syria between government troops and armed militias escalated following the Arab League’s suspension of its monitoring mission there.CNNChristian Science MonitorA suicide bombing of a funeral procession in Baghdad killed 32 people, and the government of North Korea declared it a war crime to use a cell phone during the country’s 100-day mourning period for Kim Jong-Il.Las Angeles TimesThe TelegraphThe French senate voted to jail anyone in France who denies that the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Turkish forces amounted to genocide.Raw StoryA German court blocked the release of an annotated version of “Mein Kampf,” and an online auction house in Slovakia sold for $42,300 a painting of a full moon over a shimmering ocean by Adolf Hitler.New York TimesRaw StoryA U.S. military-court judge ruled that a Marine sergeant who oversaw the massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005 should serve no time in prison.Raw StoryU.N. security staff revealed that they had received a duffel bag filled with $2 million worth of cocaine from Mexico at U.N. headquarters in New York.Raw StoryA welfare office in Dublin banned claimants from wearing pajamas to interviews.BBC

Scientists discovered 11 new planetary systems with 26 orbiting planets, and a solar storm of high-energy particles pummeled the earth. DiscoveryBBCPeople worldwide celebrated the Chinese New Year, marking the beginning of the year of the dragon, the luckiest year in the Chinese Zodiac, while the Pennsylvania state assembly passed a resolution declaring 2012 the year of the Bible.Raw StoryFour police officers in East Haven, Connecticut, were arrested by the FBI for harassing and beating Hispanic residents. Asked by a reporter how he would make amends with the Latin American community, the town’s mayor, Joseph Maturo, said, “I might have tacos when I go home. I’m not sure yet.” Two days later, activists sent 500 tacos to the mayor’s office.New York TimesCNNThe city of Los Angeles passed a bill requiring porn actors to wear condoms.ReutersAn Oklahoma state legislator introduced a bill to ban the use of aborted human fetuses in food.Las Angeles TimesOccupy Oakland protesters broke into City Hall, where they smashed display cases, cut electrical wires, and burned an American flag.Los Angeles TimesA school in suburban Philadelphia banned Uggs because students were hiding cell phones in the boots’ tall, furry cuffs, and 76 high school seniors were erroneously told they’d been accepted to Vassar College, only to have the acceptances rescinded a few hours later. “My mom called, like, my entire family,” said one of the rejected students. “It was just a big letdown.”ReutersNew York Times

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I.

That year, the year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. I’d found the place just as September’s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole I’d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.

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I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she still is, that girl on the screen: hair that tangles, freckles across her nose that in time will spread across one side of her forehead. A body that can throw a baseball the way her father has shown her. A body in which bones and hormones lie in wait, ready to bloom into the wide hips her mother has given her. A body that has scars: the scars over her lungs and heart from the scalpel that saved her when she was a baby, the invisible scars left by a man who touched her when she was young. A body is a record or a body is freedom or a body is a battleground. Already, at eight, she knows it to be all three.

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No, she thinks. They have allowed her to be a boy.

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That night at the window, looking out at the street full of snow, big flakes falling through the streetlight, I listened to what Anna was saying. She was speaking of a man named Karl. We both knew him as a casual acquaintance—thin and lanky like Ichabod Crane, with long hair—operating a restaurant down in the village whimsically called the Gist Mill, with wood paneling, a large painting of an old gristmill on a river on one wall, tin ceilings, and a row of teller cages from its previous life as a bank. Karl used to run along the river, starting at his apartment in town and turning back about two miles down the path. He had been going through the divorce—this was a couple of years ago, of course, Anna said—and was trying to run through his pain.

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