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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review

A man crashed a stolen garbage truck into a hot tub store on the Dolly Parton Parkway in Tennessee.

The deadliest American wildfire in over a century raged on the Hawaiian island of Maui, decimating the historical town and vacation destination of Lahaina and killing at least 96 people, with only 3% of the affected area searched.1 After state officials, who in a 2022 report described the risk to human life from wildfires as “low,” neglected to activate Maui’s 80 warning sirens, residents fled to the Pacific Ocean, where 17 people were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, and to airports, where thousands were stranded.2 3 4 The blaze, which was attributed to high winds, severe drought, and highly flammable invasive grasses by meteorologists and to the federal government’s directed energy weapons program by conspiracy theorists, damaged or destroyed at least 1,800 homes and burned at least 2,100 acres of land, leaving the fate of Lahaina’s 150-year-old banyan tree, a 60-foot-tall, city-block-size landmark and tourist attraction, unknown. 5 6 7 8 It was reported that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had received 38 vacations, 26 private jet flights, 12 VIP passes to sporting events, eight helicopter trips, two stays at luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica, and a standing invitation to an exclusive golf club from wealthy conservatives without mentioning them on financial disclosure forms, leading to calls from Democratic lawmakers for the judge to resign.9 10 Deloitte resigned as the auditor of India’s Adani Ports after the company refused to conduct an independent investigation into past transactions, and the average wait time for vessels to cross the Panama Canal, of which there are now 154, reached 21 days.11 12 In New York, the accused crypto fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried had his $250 million bail revoked after he leaked his ex-girlfriend’s personal writings to the New York Times, and in Argentina, where inflation is over 100%, the government announced plans to imprison foreign soccer fans who taunt locals by tearing up peso notes.13 14

In Ecuador, Fernando Villavicencio, a presidential candidate who had spoken out about connections between the government and organized crime, was assassinated outside a high school after speaking to young supporters.15 “Our presidential election is not really democracy, it is costly bureaucracy,” a Kremlin spokesperson was reported to have said, speaking about the possibility that Russia won’t hold balloting next year “because it’s already obvious that Putin will be elected.”16 It was reported that at least 20 Russian convicts who had been recruited to fight in Ukraine in exchange for pardons have since been accused of serious offenses upon their return home, including rape and murder, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine fired all 24 of his recruitment chiefs after officials were accused of taking bribes to list men as unfit for service.17 18 The British government was forced to evacuate refugees that it had placed on a barge known as Bibby Stockholm after bacteria that can cause Legionnaires’ disease were found aboard, and Texas Republicans cited the story of Noah’s ark to defend Governor Greg Abbott’s anti-migrant measures, which include buoys in the Rio Grande outfitted with circular saw blades.19 20 The former head of the Southern Baptist Convention said that evangelical churchgoers had been describing Jesus’ teaching to “turn the other cheek” as a “liberal talking point,” and a Texas school official said that a first grader had been traumatized by a poster depicting children of different races holding hands.21 22 Conservatives complained that a Virginia university had decided to remove two plaques commemorating Robert E. Lee’s horse, Traveller. “Traveler [sic] was originally put down for untreatable tetanus,” posted a professor on the site formerly known as Twitter, “but will now be put down again by equally untreatable cancel culture.”23

An Italian dairy factory owner was crushed to death by falling wheels of Grana Padano cheese, and an AI meal-planning app created by a New Zealand supermarket chain generated a recipe that would produce chlorine gas.24 “Serve chilled and enjoy the refreshing fragrance,” the app said.25 The videoconferencing company Zoom ordered its workers to return to the office, and it was reported that over $200 million in pandemic aid grants meant for struggling arts organizations went to wealthy musicians including Post Malone, Chris Brown, and the Canadian rock band Nickelback.26 27 Florida police arrested a former pastor for operating a multimillion-dollar theft ring that sold stolen goods in an eBay store called “Anointed Liquidator,” and a licensed pet groomer who, claiming to be a veterinarian, performed a fatal C-section on a chihuahua.28 29 A Pennsylvania woman accused police of assaulting her when they arrived at her home after she sent a text message about a bathroom accident to a friend that autocorrected to “I think I just shot myself.”30 A Maine sheriff was revealed to have sold 52 guns and gun parts taken from police evidence, and it was reported that the mayor of Tampa Bay spotted a 70 pound block of cocaine on a fishing trip.31 32 A newly hired instructor plowed his car into the front of a Colorado driving school, a Pennsylvania motorist smashed into the second floor of a house, and a man crashed a stolen garbage truck into a hot tub store on the Dolly Parton Parkway in Tennessee.33 34 35 California regulators voted to allow two self-driving car services to operate in San Francisco at all hours, and it was reported that Bay Area residents were having sex in robo-taxis.36 “I was just along for the ride,” said one amorous passenger. “Literally.”37 —Jon Edelman

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