Weekly Review — June 4, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Tension in Turkey, storm-chasing tragedy in Oklahoma, and auf Wiedersehen to Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz

Cupid (July 1876)In Istanbul’s Taksim Square, police fired water cannons and tear-gas canisters at demonstrators protesting plans by the government of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to convert the last major public green space in the city into replica Ottoman-era army barracks. More than 1,000 people were injured and more than 1,700 arrested as tens of thousands joined in protests in at least 67 cities over the weekend, fueled by discontent over what critics described as Erdogan’s increasingly repressive and antisecularist rule. “For the past year,” said an Istanbul shopkeeper, “it has felt like I run a shelter for gas-raid victims.” Erdogan proposed to construct a mosque in Taksim Square, one man was killed by police gunfire and another by a taxi, volunteers offered free meatballs to anyone who helped clean up, CNN Türk aired the penguin documentary Spy in the Huddle, and Syria warned its citizens against traveling to Turkey. “We call upon Erdogan to show wisdom,” said Syrian information minister Omran al-Zoubi.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] Russia criticized the European Union for allowing its embargo on arms sales to Syria to expire, thereby leaving member states free to arm opposition forces, and prepared to ship an S-300 missile-defense system to the Syrian government. “We think this delivery is a stabilizing factor,” said Russia’s deputy foreign minister, “and that such steps in many ways restrain some hotheads.” The primary Syrian opposition coalition announced that it would boycott a proposed U.N. peace conference amid arguments over procedural matters, opposition forces clashed with Hezbollah inside Lebanon, and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad warned that the fighting might spread to the Golan Heights region of Israel.[11][12][13][14][15] Yiddish scholars objected to the final round of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee, which was won by a 13-year-old from Queens, New York, who spelled the name of a traditional type of dumpling “k-n-a-i-d-e-l” in accordance with Webster’s Third New International Dictionary rather than their preferred spelling, “k-n-e-y-d-l.” “K-n-a-d-e-l,” said a Yiddish speaker at a Bronx seniors center. “K-n-a-w-d-l-e,” said a man at a nearby table. “There’s no real spelling of the word,” said the owner of a Manhattan deli that sells T-shirts reading “kneidel.”[16]

Twelve days after a tornado killed 24 people in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, the region was again hit by tornados and flash floods, this time killing 18, including three professional storm chasers. “Oklahoma is considered the Mecca of storm chasing,” said Tim Samaras in an interview conducted just prior to his death. “We know ahead of time when we chase in Oklahoma, there’s going to be a traffic jam.”[17][18][19] Torrential rain forced the evacuation of thousands of homes in Austria, the Czech Republic, and Germany, and the first German census since the country’s 1990 reunification revealed that it has 1.5 million fewer people than previously believed.[20][21] A Texas veteran accused of sending letters laced with ricin to U.S. president Barack Obama, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Bloomberg’s gun-control lobbying group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, reportedly told police he was being framed by his estranged wife.[22][23] The U.S. Army began court-martial proceedings against Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst accused of providing 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks in the knowledge that Al Qaeda would be able to access them, and Moktar Belmoktar, who planned the January attack on a gas plant near Amenas, Algeria, was revealed to have left Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb after receiving a letter from his superiors admonishing him for “backbiting, name-calling, and sneering” and enumerating 30 other complaints against him. “We ask our good brother,” they wrote, “why do you only turn on your phone with the emirate when you need it?”[24][25][26][27] Members of the far-right English Defense League were chased through the streets of London by women dressed as badgers.[28]

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At least 119 workers were killed in a series of fires and explosions at a poultry plant in Mishazi, China; Australia confirmed that Chinese hackers had stolen the schematics for its new $600 million spy headquarters; and a species of florescent pink slugs was discovered on Australia’s Mount Kaputar. “People tend to focus on the cute and cuddly bird and mammal species,” said a park ranger. “I’m a big believer in invertebrates.”[29][30][31] In Albuquerque, a drunk driver who crashed his SUV while having sex was discovered behind a cactus with his shorts inside out.[32] Federal prosecutors revealed that a client of an online currency exchange accused of laundering over $6 billion had registered under the username Russia Hackers, and that an undercover agent had successfully created an account under the name Joe Bogus for the purpose of “cocaine.”[33] Washington State police were desensitizing drug-sniffing dogs to marijuana, Florida authorities lassoed and tasered an escaped llama named Scooter, and police in Madras detained three goats accused of vandalizing a patrol vehicle, while nine goats remained at large.[34][35][36] A change to a state law eliminated the longest word in the German language, Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz (beef labeling monitoring assessment assignment law), and the word galocher was added to the Petit Robert dictionary, formally giving the French a verb for French kissing. “It never stopped us,” said a Robert employee, “from doing it.”[37][38]


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It has become something of a commonplace to say that Mike Pence belongs to another era. He is a politician whom the New York Times has called a “throwback,” a “conservative proudly out of sync with his times,” and a “dangerous anachronism,” a man whose social policies and outspoken Christian faith are so redolent of the previous century’s culture wars that he appeared to have no future until, in the words of one journalist, he was plucked “off the political garbage heap” by Donald Trump and given new life. Pence’s rise to the vice presidency was not merely a personal advancement; it marked the return of religion and ideology to American politics at a time when the titles of political analyses were proclaiming the Twilight of Social Conservatism (2015) and the End of White Christian America (2016). It revealed the furious persistence of the religious right, an entity whose final demise was for so long considered imminent that even as white evangelicals came out in droves to support the Trump-Pence ticket, their enthusiasm was dismissed, in the Washington Post, as the movement’s “last spastic breath.”

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Just after dawn in Lhamo, a small town on the northeastern corner of the Tibetan Plateau, horns summon the monks of Serti Monastery to prayer. Juniper incense smolders in the temple’s courtyard as monks begin arriving in huddled groups. Some walk the kora, a clockwise circumambulation around the building. Others hustle toward the main door, which sits just inside a porch decorated in bright thangka paintings. A pile of fur boots accumulates outside. When the last monks have arrived, the horn blowers leaning out of the second-floor windows retire indoors.

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As he approached his death in 1987, the photographer Peter Hujar was all but unknown, with a murky reputation and a tiny, if elite, cult following. Slowly circling down what was then the hopeless spiral of ­AIDS, Peter had ceaselessly debated one decision, which he reached only with difficulty, and only when the end drew near. He was in a hospital bed when he made his will that summer, naming me the executor of his entire artistic estate—and also its sole owner.

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The truth—that thing I thought I was telling.—John Ashbery To start with the facts: the chapter in my book White Sands called “Pilgrimage” is about a visit to the house where the philosopher Theodor Adorno lived in Los Angeles during the Second World War. It takes its title from the story of that name by Susan Sontag (recently republished in Debriefing: Collected Stories) about a visit she and her friend Merrill made to the house of Adorno’s fellow German exile Thomas Mann in the Pacific Palisades, in 1947, when she was fourteen. It seemed strange that the story was originally …
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How to Make Your Own AR-15

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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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