[Weekly Review] | July 2, 2013, by Ryann Liebenthal | Harper's Magazine

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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review


The U.S. Supreme Court gets in on the Voting Rights and Defense of Marriage acts, Egypt threatens revolution, and a harsh Crimean punishment for borscht-dumping

Saluting the Town (Weekly)The U.S. Supreme Court voided a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that determined which states and counties were required, based on their histories of curtailing voting rights “on account of race or color,” to obtain federal preapproval for changes to their election laws; nullified Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage; and overturned the portion of the 1996 U.S. Defense of Marriage Act that denied same-sex partners the federal rights extended to married couples. “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” wrote Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her Voting Rights Act dissent. “The Constitution neither requires nor forbids our society to approve of same-sex marriage, much as it neither requires nor forbids us to approve of no-fault divorce, polygamy, or the consumption of alcohol,” wrote Antonin Scalia in his DOMA dissent, which referred to the majority opinion as “legalistic argle-bargle.”[1][2][3][4][5][6] A secret CIA memo about the leaking of secrets was leaked.[7] A U.S. Treasury inspector general found that IRS employee credit cards had been used to purchase stovepipe hats, kazoos, bathtub toys, romance novels, Internet porn, and diet pills.[8] A California immigration officer was indicted for soliciting a bribe of 200 egg rolls, and the U.S. Senate voted 68–32 to pass a comprehensive immigration-reform bill.[9][10] The Texas state senate failed to pass a stringent antiabortion bill before the midnight end of a special legislative session. The vote was delayed by Senator Wendy Davis (D.), who held a nearly 11-hour filibuster that required her to speak continuously while standing without the aid of a platform or a restroom break, and that ended after Republicans claimed she’d broken rules by going off-topic and accepting help in donning a back brace. Hours after the bill failed to pass, governor Rick Perry announced a second special legislative session commencing July 1. “It’s just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example,” said Perry of Davis, whose mother received only a sixth-grade education. “What if her mom had said, ‘I just can’t do this. I don’t want to do this.’ ”[11][12][13][14][15]

In Egypt, at least seven people died amid demonstrations to protest fuel lineups, power outages, unemployment, and sectarian divisions, and to demand the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi on the one-year anniversary of his election. Police openly revolted against the government and refused to intervene as protesters shone laser pens to identify targets inside the darkened headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood party, then hurled Molotov cocktails at them. Party members discharged birdshot to defend their offices and assembled to defend the presidential palace armed with batons, pipes, and woks. Defense Minister and Army Commander-In-Chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned on state TV that if Morsi didn’t respond to protesters within 48 hours, the military would impose its own “road map” for Egypt’s future. “Do you have an initiative?” a Morsi spokesman asked journalists at a midnight news conference. “We’re willing to consider it seriously.”[16][17][18][19][20] Palestine’s prime minister resigned two weeks into his appointment because of conflicts with his deputies, and the emir of Qatar transferred power to his 33-year-old son.[21][22] Costa Rica accused a Venezuelan state company of attempting to launder $9.7 million by purchasing 10 million bars of soap, prosecutors in Rome were investigating Monsignor Nunzio Scarano for plotting to shelter $26 million at the Vatican Bank, and the owner of the Yorkshire Tavern in Albufeira, Portugal, was fined €700 for gambling with biscuits on a bingo game with other British and Irish expats.[23][24][25] A black bear broke into the Knoxville Zoo, a memorial was held for 50,000 bees killed in an Oregon parking lot by the pesticide Safari, and seven hikers were rescued in Hawaii’s Palolo Valley after they got lost while fleeing a group of wild pigs.[26][27][28] Transport Canada investigated three claims that Mississauga, Ontario, was being bombarded by fecal matter leaking from airplane restrooms. “There’s no way one bird could have done it,” said a man whose driveway was soiled, “unless it was a pterodactyl.”[29][30]


A Crimean man stabbed his neighbor to death after she dumped his homemade borscht into a toilet.[31] A man in Erie, Pennsylvania, had his condom stolen at knifepoint; a naked man high on hallucinogenic mushrooms broke into an Ypsilanti, Michigan, middle school and tore off part of his penis; and a California woman who cut off her ex-husband’s penis and dumped it into a garbage disposal was sentenced to life in prison. “Deep down,” said her former spouse, “I was hoping for a stronger sentence.”[32][33][34] Two brothers who busk in New York City’s Times Square as the film characters Alien and Predator were questioned by police about a ballpoint-pen attack allegedly committed by a busker named Beer Man against a rival busker named Weed Man in a Box.[35] Scientists revealed that plants are capable of complex arithmetic, and Wales’s Powys Council admitted that it had been trimming the wrong lawns for 15 years.[36][37] “Cooling centers” were opened in Arizona, California, and Nevada to help residents prepare for a record-breaking heat wave.[38][39] In the Indian state of Uttarakhand, where more than 1,000 people died in flash floods and landslides, a TV reporter was fired for filming a broadcast from atop the shoulders of a flood survivor. “You have to be a part of the people,” said the reporter’s boss, “and not ride on them.”[40]

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