View Full Version : Harpers summary for the week of 3/15/10

03-18-2010, 06:41 AM
Seven people were arrested in Ireland and charged with plotting to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who once drew a picture of Mohammed as a dog. The 2009 arrest of an eighth alleged conspirator, Colleen Renee LaRose, from a Philadelphia suburb, was also made public. A petite high-school dropout and former secretary at a gospel radio station in Texas, who had a history of suicidal behavior and public intoxication, LaRose allegedly posted online as "JihadJane." She had been monitored and ridiculed by amateur anti-terrorist web sleuths since 2008. Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, joined the Tea Party movement. "She is intrigued by Glenn Beck," read a bio posted on her website, "and listening carefully." The Texas State Board of Education voted to revise its social-studies curriculum, mandating that the U.S. government should not be called "democratic," deeming the term "capitalism" pejorative, and replacing Thomas Jefferson with Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. Democrats predicted that they would pass healthcare reform by reconciliation next week, with the House voting on the Senate bill this Friday or Saturday. Opponents of the bill, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, were expected to spend as much as $30 million in advertising targeting vulnerable House Democrats. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who claimed to have supported single-payer healthcare "for longer than many of you have lived on the face of the Earth," regretted that there would be no public option in the bill, and a faith healer in Hialeah, Florida, was investigated for feeding his followers the mucus of African giant snails. The snails, a prohibited invasive species, were smuggled from Africa by a woman known as the "Godmother," who hid them under her dress.

Senate Democrats also introduced a modest finance-reform bill that failed to include provisions for an independent consumer-protection agency; in a concession to Republicans, against the advice of members of the Fed's own Consumer Advisory Council, the bill would make the agency a part of the Federal Reserve. Almost 10 percent of American homeowners were at least three months behind on their mortgage payments, and 21 percent of young veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were unemployed. Two suicide bombs in a market in Lahore, Pakistan, killed at least 55 people, a rickshaw bomb killed 13 in the Pakistani town of Saidu Sharif, and 35 people were killed in a series of Taliban attacks in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Military officials said that retired Army officer Michael Furlong, a civilian official in the Department of Defense, had hired a secret network of private contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan to hunt suspected militants; Furlong allegedly diverted millions of dollars that were supposed to be used to set up a website and retained a "public relations company" staffed with former Special Operations forces. "Mission: Impossible" star Peter Graves died, and the only known wolverine in California, a male, marked its territory, which in theory stretches to Idaho. "It's breeding season," explained biologist Amanda Shufelberger, "so he's probably feeling lonely right now."

Two museums in Philadelphia settled their feud over the head of Old Baldy, a horse ridden by General George Meade in the Civil War, and Utah State Representative Kevin Garn resigned after admitting that, in 1985, he went naked hot-tubbing with a 15-year-old girl in Salt Lake City and later paid her $150,000 to keep quiet. Corey Haim died, and Corey Feldman said he would not attend the funeral. "Instead," Feldman said, "I will remain in Los Angeles quietly mourning." A deep-sea robot named Abe was lost in the ocean near Chile, and 75 starlings fell from the sky in Somerset, England. Earthquake aftershocks interrupted the inauguration of right-wing Chilean president Sebastian Pinera, and the corpse of former Cypriot president Tassos Papadopoulos, recovered from thieves, was reburied. Police suspected that notorious villain Antonis Kitas, known in Cyprus as "Al Capone," had masterminded the theft from prison. "As always," said a prison guard, "Al Capone was a law unto himself." Unions in Greece launched a general strike, and small bands of anarchists rioted, to protest wage cuts and taxes approved by the socialist government last week. "We still laugh," said Greek comedian Lakis Lazopoulos. "But it sounds hollow. Like the forced laughter at your grandmother's death bed, used to hide from her the fact she is dying."