View Full Version : Harpers summary for the week of 9/13/10

09-15-2010, 08:38 AM
At the World Trade Center site, bells tolled at 8:46 a.m. to commemorate the exact moment that the first plane struck the north tower, and the names of nearly 3,000 victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks were read. Many victims' relatives used the occasion to protest plans to build a Muslim community center near the site. "A mosque is built on the site of a winning battle," said Nick Chiarchiaro, whose wife and niece worked in the north tower. "They are symbols of conquest." In Amarillo, Texas, 23-year-old skateboarder Jacob Isom stole a Koran from David Grisham, director of Repent Amarillo, before Grisham could burn the book. "I snuck up behind and told him, 'Dude, you have no Koran,' and took off," Isom said. Religious leaders held an emergency summit in Washington, D.C., to denounce the "anti-Muslim frenzy." "We know what it is like when people have attacked us physically, have attacked us verbally, and others have remained silent," said Rabbi David Saperstein. "It cannot happen here in America in 2010." The House of Representatives was evacuated after an unidentified white powder was found in the chamber. Some thought the substance was yellow. Tea Party activists rallied in front of the Capitol. "When we got here last year, at Union Station we could hear the roar," said Tea Party supporter Rob Pittman, who traveled from Long Island. "I'm not hearing the roar this year." An invasive species of predatory shrimp, which often leaves its prey uneaten after killing it, was found in the waters off England.

In his first press conference since May, President Obama argued that tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 should be allowed to expire, announced that he would name Austan Goolsbee to be the next chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers, and admitted that he failed to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. "It's not for lack of trying," he said. "It's because the politics of it are difficult." The media noted that Obama was not wearing his wedding ring at the press conference. Employees of the London Tube walked out at rush hour in the first of a series of 24-hour strikes; Greek unions in Thessaloniki staged a 20,000-person march to protest the government's austerity program; and a 24-hour national strike in France closed schools and disrupted train and airplane service, coinciding with rallies to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62. "Slave-driving?" shouted protestors in Paris. "No, no, no." Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said that the "Cuban model" doesn't work; when international media took this to be a repudiation of Communism, he said that he meant "exactly the contrary" and was "amused" by those who took his remark "literally." Richard M. Daley, Chicago's "Mayor for Life," announced that after 22 years he would not run for re-election. Roger Federer lost in 5 sets to Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open semi-final, and the Liberace Foundation said that it would close the Liberace Museum.

A 54-year-old, 30-inch steel gas pipeline in San Bruno, California, ruptured, causing a fireball that killed 4 people, leveled 37 homes, destroyed the subdivision of Crestmoor, and melted the fleece jacket of neighborhood resident Gayle Masunu onto her back. Sheyla Hershey, who had the largest fake breasts in the world (38KKK, also known as 38M), had her implants and almost all her own breast tissue removed after a severe infection nearly killed her. "I just want a normal size like a housewife has," said Hershey. Contestants prepared for Miss Mafia, a Hungarian beauty contest for women who have been convicted of mafia-related crimes. Italian mattress company Sogniflex released a mattress for lovers, which includes straps, handles, extra-strong springs, and a trench near the foot of the bed where knees can be placed. "I wanted to invent something that could really help them," said company president Paolo Tonelli, "because most beds are designed for sleeping, not for making love." Scientists found that women are attracted to men who can dance well, and speculated that good dancing could be a sign of virility. British scientists said that a firm handshake could predict a long life, and researchers in New Zealand found that female snails exposed to the chemical TBT were growing penises from their heads. The Guinness Book of World Records declared Colombian Edward Nino Hernandez, who used to dance in department stores for money, the shortest man alive, at 27 inches tall. "It bothers me," said Hernandez, "when people touch me and pick me up." A 90-year-old man who bludgeoned his 89-year-old wife to death with a hammer after 68 years of marriage was sentenced to 17 years in prison, and a man at a mobile-home park in Kentucky shot his wife, stepdaughter, two neighbors, and then himself, after his wife did not cook his eggs to his liking. "I have to admit, a little grin came across my face when I saw his brains go flying," said neighbor Steve Smith. "He's been trouble ever since he's been here."