During the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama City, President Barack Obama met with Cuban president Raúl Castro in the highest-level engagement between the two governments since 1959. Castro addressed the summit, the first that Cuba has been invited to attend, with a 46-minute talk in which he absolved Obama from blame for past American offenses and excused himself for ignoring the eight-minute time limit for speeches. “You owe me six summits,” Castro said. “Six times eight is forty-eight.” Cuban-American senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) launched his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination at the Freedom Tower in Miami, known as the “Ellis Island of the South” for Cubans who fled to Florida after Fidel Castro’s revolution; and Hillary Clinton announced her bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination in a YouTube video that featured a black couple expecting a child, an Asian-American student looking for jobs, a pair of Spanish-speaking business owners, and a gay couple planning to get married. “Hillary Rodham Clinton,” said NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre, “will bring a permanent darkness.” The Republican National Committee launched a “Stop Hillary” ad campaign and coordinated attacks on Clinton’s credentials. “Republicans need to be careful about seeming condescending toward a female candidate,” said Bruce Fein, proprietor of the anti-Clinton website HillaryWatch.com. “It’ll bring out even more of the women vote for her, and that’d be devastating.” The White House opened its first gender-neutral restroom, and Women On 20s, a nonprofit group that seeks to replace Andrew Jackson’s image on the $20 bill with the face of a woman, announced that its list of candidates had been narrowed to Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and Cherokee chief Wilma Mankiller.
Michael Slager, a white South Carolina police officer, was charged with the murder of Walter Scott, a black man he’d stopped for driving with a broken taillight, after a witness released cell phone video that showed Scott running away while Slager fired eight shots at his back. Slager retained a defense attorney known for representing an alleged Al Qaeda combatant and a woman accused of leaving her two children to die of heat exposure in a parked car, and a support fund on his behalf raised $749 on IndieGoGo after having been rejected by GoFundMe. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation removed a statue of Edward Snowden from the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park, and a group of artists known collectively as The Illuminator replaced the bust with a hologram of Snowden’s face projected onto a cloud of smoke. A Chinese state television presenter issued a public apology for calling Chairman Mao an “old son of a bitch,” Burger King announced it would fund the wedding of Joel Burger and Ashley King, and a pair of Russian film directors asked President Vladimir Putin to invest $18 million in a new restaurant chain intended to drive McDonald’s out of the Russian market. “Every project these days,” a Russian television personality said of the proposal, “must be smothered in patriotic sauce.”
Utah television personality Dell “Super Dell” Schanze was sentenced to one year of probation for kicking a barn owl while flying a motorized paraglider; Florida state officials announced plans to patrol Palm Beach County four to six times a month in order to kill five-foot-long lizards that are presumed to be responsible for a drop in the population of feral cats and the disappearance of a number of Dachshund puppies; and the city of Toronto outlined a strategy to “defeat raccoon nation” with the introduction of new locking compost bins. “We are ready, we are armed, and we are motivated,” said Mayor John Tory, “to show that we cannot be defeated by these critters.” A horse on the mounted police patrol squad in St. Petersburg, Florida, was given a custom-made brush and encouraged to paint, and a reduction in tree damage by visitors to the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., was attributed to a cartoon beaver named Paddles who appears on signs warning against blossom-picking and tree-climbing. “I give my grandpa credit,” said the artist who created Paddles. “He taught me to draw this one stupid beaver and nothing else.”
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