Weekly Review | Paul Manafort, Space Force, | Harper's Magazine

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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review


Marvel Entertainment’s CEO exerts influence over the VA; Mike Pence lays out plans for The Space Force; Paul Manafort’s trial reveals his tax evasion (and much more)

The Mendocino Complex fire—a combination of two northern California blazes and just one of 15 wildfires currently burning in the state—has scorched 331,399 acres, produced smoke that is causing an “air pollution nightmare,” set the record for largest blaze in California’s history, and caused the state to spend half its annual fire budget in 40 days.1 2 3 4 “It’s not a wake-up call anymore,” said a scientist who works on climate change, “it’s now absolutely happening to millions of people around the world.”5 The death toll from Hurricanes Maria and Irma is now officially estimated by the Puerto Rican government as 1,427, 22 times higher than their previous count of 64; 10 containers of donated non-perishable supplies were found rotting in the parking lot of the Puerto Rican elections commission; and a San Juan morgue still has approximately 300 cadavers waiting for autopsy.6 7 8 A new species of tick arrived in the United States, and testimony from the trial of Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump who laundered money by buying expensive menswear, revealed that Manafort did not pay taxes on millions of dollars he earned lobbying on behalf of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who is wanted in his country for high treason.9 10 Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, is under investigation for tax fraud; Chris Collins, a New York Republican congressman and the first member of the House to publicly endorse Trump, was indicted for insider trading; and Omarosa Manigault Newman, who appeared on The Apprentice, The Celebrity Apprentice, and All-Star Celebrity Apprentice and was the director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, made public a phone conversation from the day after she was fired by chief of staff John Kelly, in which Trump stated, “You know they run a big operation, but I didn’t know it. . . . I don’t love you leaving at all.”11 12 13 “Everyone has to go down and kiss the ring,” said an administration official of Department of Veterans Affairs employees who visit Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s golf club in Florida, on taxpayer dollars to meet with a triumvirate of private citizens—led by Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter—who exert influence over the VA.14 Forbes reported that Wilbur Ross, secretary of commerce, had “grifted” $120 million.15

V. S. Naipaul, who often wrote about the complex legacy of colonialism died, and Vice President Mike Pence laid out plans for an additional branch of the military named The United States Space Force.16 17 “We need to address space as a developing war-fighting domain,” said Secretary of Defense James Mattis.18 West Virginia’s House Judiciary Committee moved to impeach the entire State supreme court, and it was reported that the department chief of the Los Angeles Police Department retired as chief of operations, collected more than $1 million, and then was rehired and promoted.19 20 A lawsuit in Florida alleges that an inmate on a “boneless diet” was starved to death and buried on Florida Department of Corrections property without his family’s knowledge or consent.21 Missouri rejected an anti-union law and a brown dwarf challenged scientists’ definition of a planet.22 23 A woman kidnapped 15 years ago by a shaman, who promised to marry her to a demon, was rescued by Indonesian police. “The victim seems to have been brainwashed, making her afraid to run away and afraid to meet other people because she was being watched by a jin,” a village resident said.24 Ikea opened its first store in Hyderabad, India.25

“Pizza is my life,” said Steve Ritchie, the CEO of Papa John’s, who is feuding with his former mentor John Schnatter and could not name any friends outside the pizza company.26 Vaccines were administered for an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Allegany, New York, state wildlife officials seized from one home three king cobras, six venomous Gila monsters, seven species of turtle, and more than 300 other reptiles.27 28 A 29-year-old employee at the Seattle airport stole a plane, flew it for an hour as fighter jets followed him and the sun set, then crashed into a small island in Puget Sound, killing only himself.29 “I’ve got a lot of people that care about me, and it’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it until now,” he told the air traffic controller.30Jacob Rosenberg

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