Weekly Review — March 11, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

A plane vanishes over Southeast Asia, Russia and Ukraine stake out their positions on Crimea, and Canada expands its Moose Sex Project

ALL IN MY EYE.Ten nations were searching for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared on Friday afternoon, shortly after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board. Forty ships and 34 aircraft patrolled the seas off Vietnam and Malaysia, and international intelligence officials investigated possible terrorist activity among passengers listed on the flight’s manifest. It was discovered that passports belonging to an Italian citizen, Luigi Maraldi, and an Austrian, Christian Kozel, which had been reported stolen in Thailand, were used by two passengers whose tickets were purchased in the Thai town of Pattaya by an Iranian man known to police as Mr. Ali. Interpol confirmed that Malaysian authorities had not checked the passports against its Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database, a failure it said occurred at airports worldwide more than a billion times in the past year. “It’s usually a matter of resources and money, and sometimes a lack of interest,” said airport-security expert David Trembaczowski-Ryder. “If it all looks legitimate,” said Malaysia Airlines executive vice president Hugh Dunleavy, “we will load them on the plane.”[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] The Russian government vowed to honor the results of a March 16 referendum in which Crimean voters are expected to confirm a decision by the territory’s Moscow-backed parliament to leave Ukraine and join Russia, and U.S. and European Union leaders denounced the vote as a violation of international law. “No one in the civilized world will recognize the decision of the so-called referendum of the so-called Crimean authorities,” said interim Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. “I do not believe that Crimea will slip out of Russia’s hand,” said former U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates. “It’s not a done deal,” said deputy national-security adviser Tony Blinken. “It’s a real nail-biter,” said former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.[8][9][10][11][12] Vitaliy Lukyanenko earned Ukraine’s first gold medal at the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, winning the 7.5km visually impaired biathlon over a field that included five-time world champion Nikolay Polukhin of Russia, and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was recently released from prison, began treatment for three slipped discs at Charité hospital in Berlin, where doctors were confident they could restore her ability to walk. “Whether she can still take part in the pole vault,” said a hospital executive, “I can’t say.”[13][14]

Iraqi prime minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of providing weapons and financial support to terrorists in Iraq and Syria, and of “leading an open war against the Iraqi government.” At a checkpoint in the southern city of Hilla, a suicide bomber detonated a truck filled with explosives, killing at least 45 people and wounding more than 100. “I was sitting in the car waiting to be searched by the police when suddenly it became dark,” said college student Ahmed Muhammed. “Then my car was going back and my legs were no longer there.”[15] Newsweek published an article alleging that Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto, long believed to be a pseudonymous coder, was actually a 64-year-old California resident named Satoshi Nakamoto; Lieutenant Colonel Joseph “Jay” Morse, the U.S. Army’s top sexual-assault prosecutor, was suspended for allegedly groping a colleague at a conference on sexual assault; and British policy adviser Patrick Rock, who helped draft proposals for the United Kingdom’s Internet porn filters, was arrested for offences related to child pornography.[16][17][18] U.S. senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) confirmed that the Central Intelligence Agency was conducting a review of its surveillance of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into CIA interrogation tactics. Upskirt photos were expressly legal in Massachusetts for a day.[19][20]

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In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”[21][22] A Tampa woman gave birth to a healthy son while she, her boyfriend, and her two daughters were hospitalized from eating bottom round steak purchased at Walmart that had been laced with LSD, and scientists at Edinburgh University found evidence that the plant extract quercetin could ease the symptoms of children with floppy-baby syndrome.[23][24] An Ottawa two-year-old was suspended for sneaking a cheese sandwich into a daycare, a Montana man was arrested for allegedly having his two-year-old son smoke marijuana, and an Atlanta elementary school investigated allegations that four kindergarteners had engaged in sexual activity in the classroom. “You have to consider all the facts,” said a father of a student. “I don’t want to be too judgmental.”[25][26][27][28] Private landowners donated 205 acres on the Chignecto Isthmus between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Moose Sex Project, and London Fire Brigade investigators blamed a building fire in South London on a bird that carried a lit cigarette to its rooftop nest. “Smokers,” said neighborhood baker Richard Scroggs. “What can you say?”[29][30]


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The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.

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With its lens shifting from the courtroom to the newsroom to people’s back yards, the series evokes the way in which, for a brief, delusory moment, the O. J. verdict seemed to deliver justice for all black men.
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