Weekly Review — April 8, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Afghanistan votes, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of wealthy political donors, and China standardizes its pets 

A Humbug (Weekly)In Afghanistan — where Taliban militants bombed the Ministry of the Interior and kidnapped and killed a political candidate and nine of his supporters — 7 million people reportedly voted in Saturday’s presidential and provincial-council elections, causing temporary ballot shortages in a third of the country’s provinces and prompting officials to extend polling hours nationwide. “We told Afghans not to vote,” said a Taliban commander. “If we find out you voted, you won’t take your five fingers home.” On the Shomali Plain, north of Kabul, polling places shuttered in response to a series of explosions were promptly reopened. “I left everything behind, my fears and my work,” said farmer Hajji Mahbob of Panjwai district, a traditional Taliban stronghold. “I want change and a good government.”[1][2][3][4][5] In a 5–4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a restriction on the aggregate amount an individual may contribute biennially to congressional candidates, political-action committees, and party committees, effectively eliminating the annual per-donor cap of $123,000. “Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority opinion. “Where enough money calls the tune,” wrote Justice Stephen Breyer in his dissent, “the general public will not be heard.” In a press conference aboard Air Force One, a spokesman for President Barack Obama, who was en route to a cocktail fund-raiser at the home of a San Francisco billionaire, said the administration was “disappointed by the decision.”[6][7][8][9][10] Thirty thousand Ugandans gathered at Kololo stadium in Kampala to celebrate February’s passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. “We can rid Uganda of homosexuals,” said one speaker. “Yes we can!”[11]

A U.S. federal judge dismissed a case brought by the families of Anwar al-Awlaki and two other American citizens killed in drone strikes overseas, finding “no available remedy under U.S. law” for claims that the strikes violated the victims’ rights to due process and protection from unlawful search and seizure. “Unmanned drones are functionally incapable of ‘seizing’ a person,” read the decision. “They are designed to kill.”[12] Army Specialist Ivan A. Lopez opened fire on fellow members of the 49th Transportation Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, wounding 16 people on the base and killing three before shooting himself.[13] Three men convicted of gang-raping two women last summer in Mumbai were sentenced to death under a recently passed Indian law strengthening penalties against repeat sex offenders. “They have used the most powerful weapon in their possession: the penis,” said the presiding judge. “They must die,” said the prosecutor.[14] Princess Anne recommended that the badgers of Gloucestershire be gassed, and French justice minister Christiane Taubira canceled plans to attend a ceremony in Kigali marking the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, after Rwandan president Paul Kagame accused France of participation in the “political preparation” and “execution” of the killing. “I don’t care for the use of the word ‘participation,’ ” said former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner. “The truth is hard,” said Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo.[15][16][17][18] In China, where urban residents were breathing rural mountain air by the bagful, officials established a pet-standardization committee and announced a nearly $2.7 million investment into researching the aurora borealis above Iceland. “The Chinese do not do anything without good reason,” said an Icelandic scientist.[19][20][21] Saudi officials suspended the travel visas of Muslim pilgrims from parts of West Africa after an Ebola outbreak in rural Guinea spread to Conakry, the country’s capital. “The doctors,” said Bah Mamadou, a taxi driver in Guinea’s southeastern Nzérékoré region, “looked like cosmonauts on their way back from the moon.”[22][23]

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American children were found to prefer breakfast cereals whose spokescharacters look them in the eye, and a professor in Washington State announced plans to develop an educational curriculum for robots. “They’re very dumb,” he said.[24][25] Toronto mayor Rob Ford voted against separate city-council motions extending congratulations to Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes and renaming a local street after Nelson Mandela, and a South Carolina lawmaker proposed a legislative amendment acknowledging God as creator of the woolly mammoth.[26][27] A missing Rüppell’s vulture named Gandalf was found in the Hebrides, and millions of migrating elvers were captured near the Bristol Channel.[28][29] Foam on the River Clyde was being traced to the Squiggly Bridge.[30] Cwmgwilians protested a pyrolysis plant, and pinkeye struck Pago Pago.[31][32] England’s lone golden eagle had begun to sky dance, and a lesbian cemetery was inaugurated in Berlin.[33][34] Peppermint Patties in Mississippi and Greco-Roman amulets in Devon were being used for sex education, parks officials in the northern Grand Canyon noted that birth control had failed to curtail destructive herds of beefalo, and an Irish ewe tupped by a goat was raising her geep like a lamb.[35][36][37][38] Braise Young of Fairfield, California, was arrested on suspicion of having vandalized Cordelia Skate Park, and the children of Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp mounted a production of King Lear. “The show,” said director Nawar Bulbul, “is to bring back laughter.”[39][40]


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A Pakistani ninth-grader sacrifices himself to save his classmates, Chris Christie saves himself, and Cormac McCarthy’s ex-wife chooses an unconventional holster 

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

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 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

Artwork by Imre Kinszki © Imre Kinszki Estate
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The Lords of Lambeau·

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

Photograph (detail) by Balazs Gardi
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"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
Photograph (detail) by Lara Shipley

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