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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review

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An inventor in Australia denied preying on desperate farmers who would pay as much as $50,000 for him to deliver 100 millimeters of rain; he claims his service, whose methods he won’t reveal lest they be stolen by competitors, includes a bridge in the space-time continuum and the application of small, strategic amounts of energy to guide the butterfly effect.

Responding to more than a dozen wildfires across California, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency and ordered 180,000 people to evacuate Sonoma County, where winds gusting to 80 miles per hour had fanned the flames.1 Pacific Gas & Electric, which has admitted in court that sparks from its equipment had likely caused at least 10 wildfires in central and northern California this year, preemptively cut power to about three million people—interrupting cell-phone service and preventing some residents from receiving evacuation notices or placing emergency calls—the largest planned outage in state history and the fourth time this month the company has caused mass blackouts.2 3 4 A judge in Massachusetts ruled that the state attorney general could immediately begin a lawsuit against ExxonMobil for downplaying the risks of fossil fuels, following a suit filed by the New York attorney general’s office claiming that the company had “erected a Potemkin village to create the illusion that it had fully considered the risks of future climate change”; the Supreme Court blocked a group of oil companies from freezing a similar lawsuit in Baltimore; and the president of the United States, who had previously named a former Exxon executive to be secretary of state, suggested partnering with Exxon to tap oil fields in Syria.5 6 7 8 An inventor in Australia denied preying on desperate farmers who would pay as much as $50,000 for him to deliver 100 millimeters of rain; he claims his service, whose methods he won’t reveal lest they be stolen by competitors, includes a bridge in the space-time continuum and the application of small, strategic amounts of energy to guide the butterfly effect.9 Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine formally recognized a new species of beetle, which has “pigtail-like” antennae and is named after climate activist Greta Thunberg.10

Protesters formed a 105-mile human chain along the length of Lebanon, where civil unrest neared its third week; in Iraq, security forces clashed with demonstrators, leaving 30 dead and bringing the death toll to 179 this month; and the mayor of Santiago, Chile, estimated that about one million people demonstrated against income inequality.11 12 13 Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, whose wealth is estimated at $1.1 billion, celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary at Camp David.14 15 A Portuguese doctor was suspended for negligence after a baby was born without a nose, eyes, and part of his skull, and 900 children under the age of 12 tested positive for H.I.V. in Ratodero, Pakistan, possibly in connection to a pediatrician who allegedly reused syringes when treating poor children.16 17 Facebook removed 14 ads by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare that promoted free vaccinations for children, and it accepted as much as $500 for an ad that promised to reveal the truth about the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella.18 WeWork, which this month delayed firing thousands of employees because it was too cash-strapped to pay severance, was acquired by a Japanese conglomerate that planned to compensate founder Adam Neumann with a $425 million credit line, $1 billion in exchange for his shares of the company, and $185 million to consult for the next four years.19 20 Russian ornithologists sought help to pay roaming charges for cellular trackers on endangered steppe eagles that had flown across Kazakhstan, Iran, and Pakistan, and Rudy Giuliani butt-dialed a reporter for NBC News, unwittingly leaving a three-minute voice message in which he discussed dealings in Bahrain.21 22 “The problem is we need some money,” Giuliani said, prompting a nine-second silence.

A Bangladeshi parliamentarian was expelled from her university after a TV crew stormed an exam hall and revealed that she had hired a body double to take a test for her, reportedly the 13th time she had done so with as many as eight different dopplegängers.23 An Iranian music-streaming service bowdlerized album art by erasing women artists from their album covers or replacing them with swirls or smoke.24 A 56-year-old woman in Knoxville, Iowa, was killed by debris from an explosion at a gender reveal party.25 Low Yan Long, a Singaporean man who worked part-time at a casket company, pleaded guilty to mischief after masturbating into women’s shoes.26 Marijuana was found at a North Dakota nuclear base that, in 2007, mistakenly equipped a B-52 bomber with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.27 The credit-monitoring bureau Equifax was sued for using “admin” as a username and password to protect sensitive data.28 Six men in Guangxi, China, were sentenced to prison after one of the men hired a second to kill the leader of a competing firm; the second man subcontracted the hit to a third, a move that was repeated by each man until the fifth hit man met the target in a cafe, revealed the plot, and proposed staging a death so they could split the etiolated commission.29 The target agreed, posed gagged and bound, and alerted the police.—Cameron French

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