Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Harper's Weekly News Review

Harper's, the oldest continuing publication in the US, puts out a news round-up every Tuesday. I'm on their e-list, and sometimes (depending on the week and who does the compilation) it can be very good:

The United States Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 decision
that the 2003 Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act is
legal. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified before
the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the firing of
federal prosecutors; Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) told
Gonzales his ability to lead was in question, and Senator
Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) asked Gonzales to resign. One
prominent Republican said the hearing was like "clubbing a
baby seal." A series of attacks in Shiite districts of
Baghdad killed at least 158 people, the largest number of
people killed in a single day since President Bush
increased the number of troops in Iraq three months
ago. "I wish the war was over," said Karl Rove. "I wish
the war never existed." Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr,
upset that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will not support
a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops, convinced six
cabinet members to quit. "We are free because we are not
in the government," said Bahar al-Araji, a Sadr
legislator. "If the prime minister doesn't do what we
want, we can do something to the prime minister. We can
make him leave the government." Defense Secretary Robert
Gates said that if the vacancies were filled with members
who could broaden representation in the cabinet, it
"probably would be a positive thing." Britain banned the
phrase "war on terror," and Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid declared that the United States has lost the war in

Boris Yeltsin died. In Rio police clashed with drug gangs
in a shootout that left at least 19 people dead. Brazilian
Justice Minister Tarso Genro announced that the federal
government would send hundreds more police officers to the
city. "For young people," said a spokeswoman for nonprofit
Observatory of the Favelas, "this is a genocide. And I
don't mean that as a metaphor. It really is a genocide."
President George W. Bush, who had planned to unveil
sanctions against Sudan during a speech at the
U.S. Holocaust Museum, agreed to U.N. Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon's request for more time to pursue diplomacy,
and Sudan agreed to allow more than 3,000 armed U.N. and
African peacekeepers into Darfur, where
government-supported militia are accused of killing as
many as 400,000 civilians. Presidential candidate Dennis
Kucinich shut down his campaign website for 24 hours in
order to create a virtual "moment of silence" to honor the
dead at Virginia Tech. Representative Louie Gohmert (R.,
Tex.) argued against a hate crime bill from the floor of
the House. "If you are going to hurt someone," he
characterized the bill as saying, "if you are going to
shoot them, brutalize them, please make it a random,
senseless act of violence like Virginia. Don't hate them
while you hurt them." A senior U.N. inspector revealed
that in the past two months Iran has doubled its capacity
to enrich uranium, and Senator John McCain entertained a
crowd at a campaign rally in South Carolina by singing
"Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran" to the tune of "Barbara
Ann" by the Beach Boys.

A Stanford study concluded that pollution from ethanol
could be a worse health hazard than that from gasoline,
and a report detailing the effects of global warming in
North America predicted the end of "a reliable snowmobile
season" by mid-century. One centimeter of snow accumulated
on the drought-stricken Qinghai-Tibetan plateau in what
China claimed to be the first artificial snowfall. A
12-foot-long minke whale spent two days frolicking near
the polluted waters of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New
York, then died. "These are days for tears," said an
onlooker. In Hungary, a truck on its way to a
slaughterhouse overturned, releasing 5,000 bunnies; 500
were killed and 4,400 recaptured, but 100 hopped to
freedom. Restaurant owners in Hong Kong were fining
customers who did not eat all their food, and Toto,
Japan's leading toilet maker, was offering free repairs
for 180,000 bidet toilets after several burst into
flames. Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson
gave a speech at the Religious Action Center of Reform
Judaism. "I'm earning money," he said, referring to his
life in the private sector. "You know that's sort of part
of the Jewish tradition, and I do not find anything wrong
with that." Angry crowds in India were burning Richard
Gere in effigy, and doctors in New York City removed a
woman's gallbladder through her vagina.

-- Claire Gutierrez

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