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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review

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The U.S. Space Force debuted its first recruitment video, featuring the slogan “Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet.”

Businesses have begun to reopen in at least thirty states, most of which have not met the White House’s guidelines for reopening and have increasing rates of COVID-19 cases.1 2 Donald Trump, who reportedly refuses to stand near anyone who hasn’t been tested for COVID-19, announced that he would disband the coronavirus task force; claimed the next day that the task force would continue its work indefinitely; and toured a face-mask factory in Arizona without a face mask while the Guns N’ Roses cover of Wings’ “Live and Let Die” played.3 4 5 The director of the CDC, the commissioner of the FDA, and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases went into self-quarantine after two White House employees—one of Trump’s valets, and Mike Pence’s press secretary—tested positive for COVID-19, and the White House issued a memo requiring employees other than Trump and Pence to wear masks.6 After the Department of Justice dropped criminal charges against the former national security adviser Michael Flynn—who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and was fired by Trump for lying to Pence—Pence said that he would be “happy” to welcome Flynn back to the White House.7 “It is scary to go to work,” said one of the president’s top advisers.8

Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied U.S. involvement in a botched coup attempt in Venezuela in which an ex–U.S. Special Forces soldier—who had previously tried to launch an initiative to install Special Forces troops inside American schools to prevent school shootings and had served as unofficial security at Trump rallies—led an amphibious assault that resulted in the arrest of several dozen mercenaries, including himself, and the deaths of eight others.9 10 12 The U.S. Space Force debuted its first recruitment video, featuring the slogan “Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet.”13 The United States began work on an international agreement called the Artemis Accords to regulate moon-mining practices, NASA officials confirmed that they plan to send Tom Cruise into space, and the European Space Agency announced that human urine shows significant promise as an ingredient in “lunar concrete.”14 15 16 During Supreme Court arguments conducted over the phone, a flushing toilet could be heard in the background as an attorney argued in the case of Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, Inc., and on several occasions, Justice Sonia Sotomayor failed to unmute herself.17 18 The IRS issued detailed instructions on what to do with coronavirus relief checks sent to dead people, and a Washington State community health center that serves Native populations was sent a box of body bags after requesting supplies from county, state, and federal health agencies.19 20

Construction in Wenceslas Square confirmed that Prague’s streets were paved with Jewish headstones.21 “These are stones from the graves of people who were dead for maybe one hundred years, and now they are lying here,” said one rabbi. “It’s not nice.” A Colombian company announced that it had developed a cardboard hospital bed that could double as a coffin; the Ethiopian government admitted to having accidentally shot down a Kenyan plane delivering coronavirus supplies to Somalia because it thought the plane was on a “suicide mission”; and Nigeria’s first death sentence delivered via Zoom was handed down by Justice Dada.22 23 24 In China, a requirement that all citizens have a coronavirus health app on their phones in order to shop or work forced a murder suspect who had been on the run for 24 years to turn himself in.25 “I had no other choice,” said the fugitive. Russia’s Health Ministry advised citizens under lockdown to limit the amount of time they remain angry with family members to 3 to 10 minutes, and the French health minister rejected an amendment to the country’s lockdown rules that would have added “love” to the list of approved reasons for traveling more than 60 miles from home. “The law,” said the member of parliament who proposed the amendment, “has more or less banned love.”26 27 Nepalese authorities shut down the annual harvest of yarchagumba, a caterpillar fungus that is used to treat erectile dysfunction and cancer.28 Ornithologists reported that coronavirus shelter-in-place policies have likely made bird calls quieter.29

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