Weekly Review — May 14, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Pakistan’s first democratic transfer of power, the IRS and DOJ overstep their bounds, and the Pope comes out against spinsters

Saluting the Town (Weekly)Pakistan underwent the first democratic transfer of power in its 66-year history, electing as prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted from the position in 1999 by a military coup led by Pervez Musharraf, and whose Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz party defeated the ruling Pakistan People’s Party and the Tehreek-e-Insaf party of retired cricket star Imran Khan. Khan, who fractured his spine after falling down during the campaign, called from his hospital bed for an investigation into vote-rigging; a gunman killed a parliamentary candidate in Karachi; and at least 28 others were killed in violence at polling stations around the country. “The voting day went fairly smoothly,” said a national columnist, “by Pakistani standards.”[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] Turkey accused the Syrian government of detonating car bombs that killed 43 people and injured 140 outside the post office and city hall of a Turkish border town.[9][10] Former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt was sentenced to 80 years in prison for ordering the deaths of 1,771 Ixil Mayans during the country’s 36-year civil war. “Guatemala has seen no genocide,” said President Otto Pérez Molina, who was a military commander under Montt. “This could mean that everyone, all indigenous people all over the planet,” said Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, “could hopefully start living in harmony.”[11][12][13] Disney dropped its application to trademark the phrase “Día de los Muertos.[14] Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) clarified that he did not, as he’d stated during a debate on immigration, believe Mexicans came from “hellholes.”[15] In Mexico City, where Malcolm X’s grandson was killed in a bar fight, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture condemned the cult of Holy Death.[16][17] Pope Francis canonized 813 Italian martyrs who were beheaded in 1480 for refusing to convert to Islam, and commanded nuns to practice “fertile chastity.” “The ordained woman is a mother,” said the Pope, “not a spinster!”[18][19]

Gunmen opened fire on a crowd at a Mother’s Day Parade in New Orleans, injuring at least 19 people; James Holmes changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity in his trial for last year’s mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; and a Missouri cinema apologized for hiring an actor dressed in body armor and carrying a fake rifle to appear at a screening of Iron Man 3.[20][21][22][23] In Düsseldorf, several audience members sought medical attention after seeing a production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser set in a Nazi concentration camp.[24] The U.S. State Department ordered a nonprofit organization to remove blueprints for a working 3D-printable handgun from its website, where they had been downloaded 100,000 times in two days.[25] It was revealed that the Justice Department had secretly acquired two months’ worth of telephone records for Associated Press journalists, and that the IRS had targeted for extra scrutiny the tax-exemption applications of approximately 75 conservative political groups whose filings contained such terms as “tea party,” “patriot,” and “9/12.”[26][27][28] Several buildings in Great Falls, Montana, were evacuated after discarded boxes of educational scratch-and-sniff cards made to smell like natural gas were mistaken for a gas leak. “In a sense,” said an official for the company that produced the cards, “it worked the way it was supposed to.”[29]

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Cleveland resident Ariel Castro was arrested for allegedly holding captive for as long as eleven years three women and a six-year-old girl he had fathered with one of the women. “I’m eating my McDonald’s. I come outside. I see this girl going nuts,” said neighbor Charles Ramsey, who alerted police. “Way to go Charles Ramsey- we’ll be in touch,” tweeted @McDonalds.[30][31][32][33] A 19-year-old Bangladeshi garment worker was found alive after she survived for 17 days on dried food and bottled water in a basement prayer room at the collapsed Rana Plaza factory complex, where rescue efforts ended with the death toll at 1,127, and a ninety-year-old man named Justyn Ambrozia survived on Fig Newtons, ice-cream cones, and pound cake while trapped in his car for three days in a Florida garage.[34][35][36][37] German regulators were investigating allegations of potato price-fixing by the Kartoffel Kartell.[38] The American Gerbil Society held its annual pageant. “Anyone can buy a $12 gerbil,” said the society’s vice president, “and get into the sport of gerbil showing or gerbil agility.”[39] Massive ice waves blew from Manitoba’s Lake Dauphin onto Ochre Beach, and from Minnesota’s Lake Mille Lacs into Izatys Resort, creating berms up to 30 feet high and damaging more than 40 homes.[40][41] The U.S. Postal Service halted mail delivery to a ten-acre Lakeport, California, subdivision that was sinking into a hillside. “It’s a slow-motion disaster,” said a resident.[42] Worldwide levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 400 parts per million, the highest concentration in at least 2 million years. “Physically, we are no worse off,” said a climate scientist, “than we were at 399.”[43][44]


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"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

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