Weekly Review — February 21, 2012, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

An angry-looking, monkey-like creature showing its teeth.

A prison fire in Honduras killed 359 people, making it the deadliest such fire on record. An inmate was reported to have started the fire after phoning the state governor’s office and saying he was going to burn down the prison, then lighting his bedding on fire. The facility officially housed 857 prisoners, more than double its intended capacity, and was being supervised by 12 guards, who prevented firefighters from entering while the fire spread. “The guards first thought they had a prison break,” said the director of Honduras’s prison system, “so they followed the law saying no one could enter to prevent unnecessary deaths.” The U.S. military’s Joint Task Force Bravo, which was stationed near the prison, sent masks, flashlights, and glow sticks.Boston.comUSA TodayWikipediaAPAPForty-four people died in a prison riot in Mexico, Islamist gunmen freed 119 people from a jail in Nigeria, and three people were killed in Manila during a failed attempt by Islamist guerrillas to free an imprisoned comrade.NY TimesAFP via Yahoo! NewsAP via NPRIsrael’s ambassador to Thailand accused Iran of involvement in bombing attempts against Israeli diplomats in Bangkok, New Delhi, and Tbilisi.NY TimesChristian Science MonitorSean Stone, son of filmmaker Oliver Stone, converted to Islam in Tehran, and in Buenos Aires actor Sean Penn criticized the United Kingdom for its “colonialist” rule over the Falkland Islands.Tehran TimesGuardianResidents of Nogent-sur-Marne, France, challenged their town’s decision to depict the face of Italian-born first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy on a bronze statue of a worker rather than that of a male mason, and Icelandic musicians protested the State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland’s ban on Motörhead-brand shiraz, named after the English heavy metal band. “It is a violation of human rights,” said SĂłlstafir lead singer AĂ°albjörn Tryggvason, “to not be able to buy yourself red wine.”AFP via TelegraphAPReykjavĂ­k GrapevineReykjavĂ­k Grapevine

 

Dave Mustaine, lead singer of the heavy metal band Megadeth, announced, then denied, his endorsement of G.O.P. presidential candidate Rick Santorum, and Santorum’s main financial backer, billionaire investor Foster Friess, apologized for comments he made about contraception. “Back in my days they used Bayer aspirin,” said Friess. “The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”Music RadarCNN via Raw StoryReutersThree House Democrats walked out of a committee hearing on contraception, in protest of a witness panel consisting entirely of male religious leaders.Atlantic WireThe Virginia House of Delegates passed a “personhood” bill conferring the rights of a human being upon an embryo at the moment of fertilization, the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.AP via CBS NewsWashington PostAFP via Raw StoryTwo F-16s intercepted a Cessna carrying 40 pounds of marijuana over Los Angeles after it entered the airspace of Marine One, which was transporting President Barack Obama on a fundraising trip.AFP via Raw StorySix weeks after signing the Shark Conservation Act into law, Obama ate lunch at one of the few California restaurants still serving shark-fin soup. The president “ordered a lot of dim sum takeout,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “No soup.”San Francisco ChronicleAFPAn ESPN employee was fired after posting the headline “Chink in the Armor” for an article about the end of a New York Knicks winning streak led by Taiwanese-American point guard Jeremy Lin.ESPNDeadspinGame theorists in Switzerland determined that prejudice is a sound, if error-prone, strategy for short-term interactions in high-migration populations, and Canadian doctors found that the babies of South and East Asian immigrants are often incorrectly deemed underweight.PLoSoneCBC.caThe Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University declared the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, which burned through the latex gloves of the researchers assigned to pick it, to be the hottest pepper on earth. “There will be a run on seeds and plants,” predicted grower Jim Duffy. “Like Cabbage Patch dolls right before Christmas.”AP via NOLA.com

Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter died at 57 of brain cancer, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Shadid died at 43 following an asthma attack while reporting in Syria, and adventurer John Fairfax, who lived as a trapper in the Argentine jungle as a teenager and as a pirate-ship captain in his twenties, and who crossed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in a rowboat, died at 74.NY TimesNY TimesNY TimesA man reportedly suffered a heart attack while eating a Triple Bypass burger at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas.Fox 5 VegasLas Vegas Review-JournalA Scottish musician was bitten in the testicle by a venomous tiger snake while urinating in a Tasmanian garden.Sun (U.K.)Calcutta prepared to be painted blue.BBCGerman academics voted “shitstorm” the most useful English loanword in the German language, a BBC weatherman forecasted “bucket loads of cunt” for central and eastern England, and a British Airways flight attendant was arrested for writing “The bomb on board will explode at 16.00 GMT unless our demands are met” on a bathroom door during a flight from Tokyo to London.Global PostDaily MailTelegraphJournalists documented the rise of rabbit-petting cafĂ©s in Tokyo and the spread of decaf “babyccino” coffees from Australia to Brooklyn. “My child has been going to cafĂ©s since he was a newborn,” said one Brooklyn mother. Babyccinos, said the Australian inventor of the instant babyccino, “interrupt workflow, create milk wastage, and can be served at a dangerous temperature to a vulnerable consumer.”Japan TimesBrooklyn Paper

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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!”

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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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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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For time ylost, this know ye,
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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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