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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review

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Melania Trump asked members of her staff to write thank-you notes “in her voice” to the rest of the White House staff.

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed 17 executive orders, including provisions for the United States to rejoin the Paris climate accord and restore ties with the World Health Organization; end construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall; and require executive-branch appointees to sign an ethics pledge committing them to act “without regard to private gain or personal benefit.”1 2 Trump’s final acts as president included revoking his own lobbying-reform pledge and issuing 143 pardons and sentence commutations, recipients of which included the rapper Lil Wayne; a co-founder of Death Row Records, Michael “Harry-O” Harris; the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro’s ex-husband, Albert; and “Sloppy Steve” Bannon.3 4 5 6 In anticipation of a pardon that never came, Joe Exotic, the subject of the documentary series Tiger King, had a limousine waiting outside the prison where he is currently incarcerated; Exotic attributed his failure to being “too innocent and too GAY.”7 The Supreme Court dismissed a set of lawsuits against Trump that accused him of violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, and it was reported that former Trump campaign aides had planned the rally that preceded the January 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol.8 9 10 Hundreds of the 25,000 National Guard members deployed to Washington in response to the siege tested positive for COVID-19 after being quartered in hallways and garages without social-distancing measures; in one instance, 5,000 troops had to share a single bathroom.11 New research indicated that the sincerity of a smile cannot be gauged through eye contact, and Melania Trump asked members of her staff to write thank-you notes “in her voice” to the rest of the White House staff.12 13

“I don’t plan to either hang myself on a window grill or cut my veins or throat open with a sharpened spoon,” the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny wrote from prison on the night before protesters across the country began demanding his release.14 15 North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said that the country was “gravely concerned” about human-rights violations in Australia.16 The U.S. COVID-19 death toll surpassed the number of American soldiers killed in World War II, and GitHub, in an apology for firing a Jewish employee for warning co-workers about Nazism, announced that “employees are free to express concerns about Nazis.”17 18 Instacart fired a group of workers who had voted to unionize, and Twitter suspended the account of the Chinese embassy to the United States after it tweeted a derogatory comment about Uighur women.19 20 “We hope the rescue won’t stop,” read a note from Chinese miners who were trapped 2,000 feet underground for a week.21 22 A man who had been living at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for three months was arrested; a thief who discovered a toddler in the back seat of a car he had stolen returned to the scene of the crime in order to yell at the child’s mother; and an Atlanta teenager stole almost $1 million by fraudulently returning items to the supermarket chain Kroger.23 24 25 After a two-year investigation, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police discovered the origin of cocaine-stuffed bananas that had been sent to grocers, and in Vancouver, British Columbia, a woman who had been arrested by the RCMP wrote a thank-you note to the officers, giving them a 4.5-star rating for their “care and kindness” during her detention.26 27 The New Jersey Supreme Court overturned an armed-robbery conviction because the prosecutor had displayed a still from The Shining during closing arguments, and Leon Black, the CEO of Apollo Global Management, resigned after an investigation revealed that he had given $158 million between 2012 and 2017 to the deceased sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who was the sole director of Black’s family’s foundation.28 29 30 The broadcaster Larry King died at the age of 87, the baseball Hall of Famer and civil-rights activist Hank Aaron died at the age of 86, and the professional gamer Thomas “ZooMaa” Paparatto retired at the age of 25 because of a thumb injury.31 32 33

Microsoft patented technology that uses AI to mimic the voices and personalities of dead people.34 A woman in France who has been fighting for three years to be declared legally alive described her circumstances as “macabre.”35 Paleontologists discovered the “extraordinarily well-preserved male genitalia” of a 50-million-year-old insect as well as the excretory cavity of a dinosaur “shaped in its perfect, unique way.”36 37 The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, stalled approval of the 50–50 Senate’s power-sharing agreement to demand a guarantee that Democrats will not eliminate the filibuster.38 “:-( I’m a nice guy you know,” texted the recently fired New York Mets general manager, Jared Porter, to a woman who had stopped replying to his messages after he sent her pictures of his penis.39 “Please let me know if you ever need anything work wise,” Porter added.—Clara Olshansky

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