[Weekly Review] | April 23, 2013, by Jacob Z. Gross | Harper's Magazine

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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review


A manhunt in Massachusetts, the Gitmo hunger strike grows, and the cause of earthquakes in Iran

An American Mastiff.

An American Mastiff.

Three days after bombs went off near the finish line at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 219, police cornered two suspects, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, aged 19 and 26, respectively, in Watertown, Massachusetts. The brothers allegedly lobbed explosive devices from a stolen Mercedes S.U.V. and exchanged fire with law-enforcement personnel until both sides had exhausted their caches, then, after an officer tackled Tamerlan, Dzhokhar accidentally ran over his brother with the Mercedes and dragged the dead body a short distance before escaping on foot. Authorities locked down much of the Boston area, excepting several Dunkin’ Donuts locations that remained open at the request of the Boston Police Department, while more than 9,000 law-enforcement officers conducted a house-to-house dragnet. CNN falsely reported that the suspect had been apprehended, the Czech Republic began trending on social media after it was reported that the Tsarnaevs were ethnically Chechen, and the New York Post ran a cover photograph of two innocent men it claimed were wanted by police. “The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities,” said the Czech ambassador to the United States. “We stand by our story,” said the Post’s editor. “We did not identify them as suspects.” Police apprehended Dzhokhar, who had been shot in the neck and was unable to speak, after a resident discovered him hiding aboard a boat called the Slipaway II. The Department of Justice announced that the suspect would be tried in civilian court on charges of using weapons of mass destruction. “I can’t imagine how people in other parts of the world live like this,” said one Watertown resident, “with all the bombs, guns, and uncertainty.”[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] Legislation designed to strengthen gun control by expanding background checks was defeated in the Senate after failing by six votes to reach a filibuster-proof 60-vote threshold. “It’s almost like you can see the finish line,” said the father of a man who was injured in the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, “but you just can’t get there.”[14]

Guantánamo Bay Naval Base officials confirmed that the number of prisoners participating in a hunger strike had risen to at least 84.[15] A woman discovered a loaded pistol under a chair cushion in the lobby of a hotel across the street from the National September 11 Memorial entrance in New York City, and a report by the nonpartisan Constitution Project concluded that the U.S. government practiced torture against detainees after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “What was once generally taken to be understandable and justifiable behavior,” read the report, “can later become a case of historical regret.”[16][17] The presiding judge suspended the war-crimes trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt after defense counsel failed to show up because another judge had annulled the case on a technicality.[18] Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf was disqualified from participating in upcoming parliamentary elections, then fled the Islamabad High Court in a convoy of black S.U.V.’s after a judge ordered his arrest on terrorism charges. “Whenever I see danger, I jump into it,” said Musharraf, whose campaign had been threatened by Islamist militants, “then I realize it is not a danger.”[19][20][21] Taliban insurgents killed nine people in assaults on a security checkpoint and a shopping bazaar, bringing the total number of people killed in attacks in Afghanistan this month to 222.[22] In West, Texas, at least 14 people died after a fertilizer plant exploded, setting fire to a middle school and a nursing home. Joe Berti, who had crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon moments before the bombs went off there, witnessed the factory blast from his car. “I just want to get out of here,” said Berti, “and get away from these explosions.”[23][24][25]


A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the Chinese province of Sichuan, killing at least 186 people and shearing off mountainsides, and a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Iran, killing at least 35 people in neighboring Pakistan. “Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray,” said a senior Iranian cleric, “which increases earthquakes.”[26][27][28] Ohio Republicans advanced state legislation banning “gateway sexual activity” from public-school health curriculums, a Florida woman was arrested for violently yanking her ex-boyfriend’s penis after he refused to resume dating her, and Saudi Arabia expelled three Emirati men for being too handsome.[29][30][31] An Elvis impersonator was charged with sending letters laced with ricin to Senator Roger Wicker (R., Miss.) and President Barack Obama.[32] A Sandusky, Ohio, woman was arrested for assaulting her ex-boyfriend with a bottle of Kurtz Louisiana hot sauce, and in Tabasco, Mexico, the last two speakers of the language Ayapaneco were refusing to talk to one another. “They don’t have a lot in common,” said an anthropologist.[33][34] Authorities in the Philippines detained the crew of a Chinese ship carrying 22,000 pounds of contraband anteater meat.[35] Officials at a South African World Art Day exhibition removed a painting that depicts Nelson Mandela as white, and in Humble, Texas, a white private-school teacher denied allegations that she had fondled an African-American student. “She doesn’t even like to touch the black children on their hand[s],” said a police officer.[36][37] David Rubinstein, the co-CEO of a private-equity firm, announced a $10 million gift to the estate of Thomas Jefferson, earmarked for the reconstruction of Jefferson’s slave quarters at Monticello. “I think if Jefferson were around today,” said Rubinstein, “he would say, ‘I would like to see Monticello restored as it was.”[38]

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