View Full Version : Harpers summary for the week of 12/13/10

12-16-2010, 07:42 PM
After eating a bowl of oatmeal and drafting ten talking points, Senator Bernie Sanders (Ind., Vt.) spoke for nine hours in opposition to the tax-cut deal struck between President Obama and congressional Republicans. "We should be embarrassed," he said, "that we are for one second talking about a proposal that gives tax breaks to billionaires while we are ignoring the needs of working families, low-income people and the middle class." Mark Madoff, son of Bernard L. Madoff, hanged himself in his Manhattan apartment while his toddler slept in a nearby bedroom; court documents filed last year suggest that Mark Madoff made almost $67 million through his father's Ponzi scheme. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London on charges of sexual assault. "That sounds like good news to me," said U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. State Department cables leaked this week revealed that Saudi media executives, over coffee in a Jeddah Starbucks, extolled the power of American television in the fight against Islamic extremism, while Saudi diplomats expressed their admiration for the movies Insomnia and Michael Clayton. Taymour Abdelwahab, a Swedish citizen, set off a car bomb and then blew himself up in Stockholm on Saturday, injuring two in what authorities believe was a botched attempt at a larger attack, and imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Online discussion of the chair symbolizing his absence from the ceremony in Oslo prompted authorities in China to censor the phrases "empty chair," "empty seat," "empty stool" and "empty table" from the country's major social networking sites.

Sarah Palin made a brief trip to Haiti, Halliburton prepared a plea bargain in a $180 billion Nigerian corruption case against Dick Cheney, and the Federal Aviation Administration announced that a third of all United States aircraft had "questionable" registration. "Anybody with a roll of duct tape can put any number they want on an airplane," said a pilot whose tail number was replicated by cocaine traffickers. To celebrate the Dutch holiday of Sinterklaasvond, Saint Nicholas appeared in street parades with the Zwarte Pieten ("Black Peters"), a gaggle of "assistants" wearing blackface and Afro wigs. A judge in Massachusetts ruled that prosecutors in a manslaughter trial could display video of an eight-year-old boy accidentally shooting himself in the head with an Uzi submachine gun. Ebizo Ichikawa XI, one of Japan's preeminent Kabuki performers, apologized for participating in a drunken bar brawl. Fans of the actor, whose left cheekbone was fractured in the fight, worried that the injury might mar his nirami, a signature cross-eyed glare for which the Ichikawa family is famous.

Researchers discovered that gambling behavior is "intensified by reptile-induced arousal." Paleontologists on the island of Flores uncovered the fossilized remains of a giant marabou stork, which stood 6 feet tall and may have preyed on Homo floresiensis, a hobbit-sized hominid. A bird doctor in Nashville donned a billowy white suit in order to tend to an injured whooping crane. "You learn very quickly how to communicate dressed as a marshmallow," he said. Chinese conservationists in Sichuan Province reached their goal of breeding 300 pandas in captivity, despite the fact that pandas have disproportionately small penises, show poor knowledge of the only position in which they can successfully copulate, and are capable of conceiving for a maximum of one day a year. Near Montana's Scape Goat Wilderness Area, a "very secluded" parcel of land that once belonged to Unabomber Ted Kaczynski went on sale for $69,500. Physicists began putting the finishing touches on the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica, where they hope blue flashes from muons will help them triangulate the origins of neutrinos. "If IceCube observes separated pairs of particles, they might be supersymmetric," said one researcher. "That would be extremely exciting." Emails released by the California Department of Corrections described officials' attempts to procure sodium thiopental, a drug used in lethal injections. They eventually borrowed some from Arizona. "You guys in AZ are life savers," wrote one prison official. "Buy you a beer next time I get that way."