Weekly Review — April 22, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Boko Haram steps up its attacks in Nigeria, South Korea mourns a ferry disaster, and Gabriel García Márquez dies at 87

Saluting the Town (Weekly)In Nigeria, Boko Haram insurgents claimed responsibility for a bus-terminal bombing that killed 75 people on the outskirts of Abuja, and were believed to have killed 20 people, including a local monarch, and to have kidnapped at least 230 schoolgirls in the northeastern state of Borno. The Nigerian defense ministry announced that all but eight of the kidnapped girls, whom the government feared would be turned into cooks or sex slaves, had been returned to safety, then retracted the claim. “The issue of Boko Haram is temporary,” said President Goodluck Jonathan. “Remember,” said Boko Haram leader Abubekar Shekau to Jonathan in a video, “this is exactly the fifth year that you boasted you were going to finish with us.”[1][2][3][4][5][6] Russia, Ukraine, the European Union, and the United States struck an agreement in Geneva calling for pro-Russia militants to withdraw from towns in eastern Ukraine. The police chief of Horlivka was attacked and hospitalized after he threw from a 20-foot ledge a man attempting to replace the police station’s Ukrainian flag with the Russian flag. Militants assured residents of Slovyansk — where armed “green men,” shown by Ukraine to include a Russian operative, overtook the police station — that their missing mayor was safe. “She’s in a normal condition,” said a man who had declared himself the People’s Mayor. “It’s just that yesterday she had a small crisis. She is recovering from an operation. She doesn’t feel well. She signed a letter of resignation.”[7][8][9][10] A Russian Fencer fighter jet made 12 close-range passes over the USS Donald Cook navy destroyer in the Black Sea, and Russian president Vladimir Putin played a taped question from former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden during a town-hall meeting that was broadcast on Russian state television. “Does Russia intercept, store, or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?” asked Snowden. “Our special services, thank god,” said Putin, “are strictly controlled by the society and by the law.”[11][12][13]

The ferry Sewol capsized while transporting 476 people, including 323 high school students, from Seoul to a South Korean resort island, killing at least 86 and leaving at least 220 missing. The ship’s captain was arrested after it emerged that he had not issued an evacuation order until 30 minutes after the ship had begun to tilt, by which time many passengers were likely already trapped. “Unforgivable, murderous behavior,” said South Korean president Park Geun-hye.[14][15][16] Two Pakistani brothers previously convicted for disinterring five bodies and eating them were arrested after the head of an infant was found in their home, and a woman in Pleasant Grove, Utah, confessed to depositing the corpses of seven of her infants, six of whom she’d suffocated after birth, in boxes in her garage.[17][18] Iraq closed Abu Ghraib prison for fear that it would be overrun by insurgents.[19] The New York Police Department closed a special investigative unit, formed after 9/11, that documented where Muslims prayed, worked, and shopped.[20] The Great Men Wax Museum of China admitted that it had agreed to a request from North Korea to increase the height of a wax figure of deceased Great Leader Kim Il-Sung by six inches, and the North Korean embassy in London urged British authorities to make a hair salon remove a poster mocking the pompadour of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un. “I don’t really see it catching on,” said the salon owner’s son.[21][22][23] At least 13 Nepalese Sherpas died in an avalanche over Mount Everest’s Khumbu Icefall.[24] Boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, whose 19-year wrongful imprisonment for murder was memorialized in a film and Bob Dylan song, died at age 76, and Colombian author and Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez died at age 87. “A thousand years of loneliness and sadness,” said Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos. “His work will safeguard his memory,” tweeted the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). “You’d be at a bordello,” said the journalist Francisco Goldman, “and the woman would have one book by her bed and it would be Gabo’s.”[25][26][27]

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After being convicted of tax fraud in Italy, 77-year-old former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to a year of community service at a home for the elderly in Lombardy.[28] In its response to a customer complaint on Twitter, US Airways tweeted a link to a photograph of a model Boeing 777 inserted in a woman’s vagina.[29] A federal judge ordered Ohio to recognize the same-sex marriages of couples wed out of state, and India’s Supreme Court ordered state and federal governments to allow people to identify themselves as transgendered on official documents.[30][31] A policeman in Pulaski Township, Pennsylvania, revealed that he had spent much of the winter disguised as an Amish woman in an unsuccessful attempt to apprehend a flasher.[32] Residents of the Norwegian valley town of Rjukan, which spends six months of the year in darkness, were complaining about the $840,000 the municipality spent erecting mirrors to reflect sunlight onto the town square. “It’s just a flash in the pan,” said a retiree.[33] A missing toddler in Lincoln, Nebraska, was discovered inside a bowling-alley claw game filled with stuffed animals.[34] Cumberland County, New Jersey, was reported to have summoned a German Shepherd named IV Griner to jury duty.[35] A Texas man was sentenced to 18 months in jail for urinating on the Alamo, and Portland, Oregon, discarded nearly 38 million gallons of drinking water after surveillance cameras recorded 19-year-old Dallas Swonger peeing into a city reservoir. “During the summertime,” said Swonger, “I’ve seen hella dead animals in there.”[36][37] A man looking for an alligator along Florida’s Alligator Alley was bitten by a water moccasin.[38] While swimming off the Spanish island of Lanzarote, British prime minister David Cameron was stung by a jellyfish. “Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!” he said.[39]


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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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