Weekly Review — June 11, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Big Barack is watching, Turkish winter is coming, and Sunday Swett is winning

Babylonian LionA 29-year-old technology-infrastructure analyst named Edward Snowden provided the Guardian newspaper a secret court order compelling Verizon Business Services to release to the National Security Agency metadata from all customer phone calls on an “ongoing daily basis,” and revealed that the NSA has since 2007 been authorized to collect chat transcripts, emails, and media from servers owned by Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple. “They can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made,” said Snowden, who is believed to have fled to Hong Kong. “To derive suspicion from an innocent life.” Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.), who authored the Patriot Act, contended that the provision of the law granting the government access to business records was intended to monitor only individuals already under investigation. “Come on! Now you can’t use telecommunications unless you go back to the bad old days when I was a kid and use two tin cans with a string between the two of them,” he said. “You can’t have 100 percent security, and then have 100 percent privacy,” said President Barack Obama.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif called for an end to American drone strikes on his country’s soil after a strike near the Afghan border killed seven people.[8][9] In Turkey, where demonstrations against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued in dozens of cities, police arrested 25 people in Izmir for “misleading and libelous” tweeting. “People who speak of the Turkish spring are right,” tweeted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to his nearly 3 million followers. “The season is, in fact, spring, but there are those trying to turn it into a winter.” Upon returning from a state visit to North Africa, Erdogan promised supporters that his government would proceed with plans to build a shopping mall in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, where protesters continued to camp out in tents. “They’ve turned over the cars, built barricades,” said a nine-year-old protester. “I’ve been to protests since I was three, but I’ve never seen such a thing.”[10][11][12][13][14]

The United Kingdom agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Kenyans tortured during the 1952–1963 Mau Mau Uprising by offering $4,675 to each of the 5,228 plaintiffs. “We could not beat them to give us more,” said Kenyan veteran Mathenge Wa Ireri. [15][16][17] The British royal family convened at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. To reenact the original ceremony, organizers removed St. Edward’s Crown from the Tower of London and placed it on the High Altar of Westminster along with an eagle-shaped bottle of holy oil. “Jesus . . . humbled himself and took the form of a slave,” said the Archbishop of Canterbury. “And so she serves us.”[18][19] A young man who lied to Berlin police about having lived for five years in a forest was revealed to have run away from home because he disliked his internship.[20] The Danube flooded to its highest level in 500 years, and the Technical University of Munich found that cheerful women make worse leaders than proud ones.[21][22] Russian president Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila attended a ballet at the Kremlin, told reporters the production was “excellent,” and announced that they were divorcing.[23] Israel’s minister of education, Shai Piron, laughed for two minutes and twenty-seven seconds after uttering the word “penetration” in the first sentence of prepared remarks to Parliament. “The aim of this legislation is to deal with a serious phenomenon,” he had said, “the penetration of prohibited objects into prisons.”[24][25] A Russian cat was detained for smuggling a cell phone into a prison.[26]

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U.S. Army staff sergeant Robert Bales, who in 2012 sneaked away from his base in Kandahar province and killed 16 Afghans, pleaded guilty to murder charges. “There’s not a good reason in this world,” he said, “for why I did the horrible things I did.”[27] In New Hampshire, governor Maggie Hassan emancipated 14 slaves who petitioned for their freedom in 1779, and high school tennis player Briana Leonard chose to forfeit the state final to Sunday Swett after the crowd heckled her for living in Massachusetts.[28][29] Police arrested a horror-film actress from New Boston, Texas, for mailing ricin to Barack Obama, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns; and an Austin candy company released a line of lollipops that taste like vegan breast milk. “We are endlessly grateful to all the mothers who kept sharing their breast milk with our flavor specialists until we were able to candify it,” said the company on its website.[30][31][32] Abbotsford, British Columbia, apologized for dumping chicken manure at a makeshift camp in an attempt to disperse the homeless, and a Florida scientist found that genetically programmed cell death causes penis shedding in roosters.[33][34] In Hermantown, Minnesota, a woman removed a plastic jar stuck for several days on the head of a whitetail deer, and in Monroe County, Florida, a sheriff’s deputy removed a Doritos bag from the head of a suffocating Key deer. “It must,” said the sheriff’s spokeswoman, “have wanted that last chip.”[35][36]


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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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