Weekly Review — September 17, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

A(nother) mass shooting in the United States, a deal on Syria’s chemical weapons, and notes on Arkansan squirrel cuisine

ALL IN MY EYE.At the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., 34-year-old Aaron Alexis killed at least 12 people before being killed by a police officer. Alexis was carrying a shotgun and two pistols.[*] “It’s hard,” said a law-enforcement official, “to carry that many guns.” Navy commander Tim Jirus reported hiding in an alley with another man, who was shot in the head while the two conversed. “I was just lucky,” said Jirus. “The other person was shorter than me.”[1][2][3] United Nations weapons inspectors submitted a report confirming that they had found “clear and convincing evidence” that the nerve gas sarin was deployed on August 21 near Damascus, an attack Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “the worst use of weapons of mass destruction in the twenty-first century.”[4][5][6][7] The Syrian government formally acceded to the international convention banning chemical weapons, and U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov secured an agreement under which Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons will be inventoried, seized, and removed or destroyed by mid-2014. “In part because of the credible threat of U.S. military force, we now have the opportunity to achieve our objectives through diplomacy,” said President Barack Obama. “We agreed to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international supervision in response to Russia’s request, and not because of American threats,” said Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Kerry insisted he “purposely” made the statement, which was widely reported as a gaffe, that Assad could voluntarily give up his country’s chemical weapons in order to avoid airstrikes. “I did indeed say it wasn’t possible and he won’t do it, even as I hoped it would be possible and wanted him to do it,” Kerry said. “The language of diplomacy sometimes requires that you put things to the test.”[8][9][10][11] News about the singer Miley Cyrus’s performance at the MTV Video Music Awards was found to have been 12 times more widely read in the United States than news about Syria, and the FCC was reported to have received 150 complaints about Cyrus. “Where,” asked one complainant, “has censorship gone?” “I was subjugated,” wrote another, “to four minutes of Miley Cyrus.”[12][13]

[*] An earlier version of the Weekly Review stated that Aaron Alexis was carrying an AR-15 rifle. News reports to this effect turned out to have been incorrect.

On the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, the fire department at Boston’s Logan International Airport held a training exercise that included roaring flames and heavy smoke on the airfield.[14] In Colorado, where severe flooding has killed seven people, left more than a thousand stranded, and damaged nearly 19,000 homes, special-education teacher Brian Shultz said he regretted evacuating his house. “I could have lasted at least a year,” he said, adding that he probably had enough beer to cover the entire time.[15] A feral pig in the Australian town of Port Hedland drank 18 beers and passed out under a tree, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents announced plans to distribute cupboard latches in order to prevent Scottish children from eating laundry-detergent gel capsules, and police in York, Pennsylvania, determined that the crash of a minivan driven by Dimples the Clown was not caused by oversize footwear.[16][17][18] American balloonist Jonathan Trappe, who was trying to cross the Atlantic Ocean borne by hundreds of helium-filled balloons, landed prematurely in Newfoundland. “This doesn’t look like France,” he said.[19] NASA confirmed that its Voyager 1 probe had entered interstellar space, that it would send romaine-lettuce plants to the International Space Station, and that a photograph of a frog being launched alongside its LADEE spacecraft at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia was authentic. “The condition of the frog,” the agency said in a statement, “is uncertain.”[20][21][22] A man suspected of masturbating outside a Glendale, California, Seventh Day Adventist church during services was arrested after being found asleep with his hand in his pants.[23] Eviction proceedings continued in London against God’s Own Junkyard.[24]

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Thousands of fish suffocated following a molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor, and Titan Salvage began righting the shipwrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner in Giglio, Italy, the largest parbuckling attempt in history.[25][26] Israeli police arrested a self-proclaimed sorcerer from the Golan Heights for manipulating a woman into having sex with him as part of “magical treatments” to help her recover from a breakup, and Dayton, Ohio, performer Nathaniel J. Smith, who also goes by Brave Nate, Hustle Simmons, and FlexLuthor, was arrested for failing to appear at a child-support hearing for one of the 27 children he has fathered by 17 women.[27][28] In Milton, West Virginia, two men, dressed as Batman and Captain America, rescued a cat from a house fire, after which Batman administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.[29] The Asahikawa prison in Japan introduced Katakkuri-chan, a six-foot-six-inch humanoid mascot dressed as a prison warden with an enormous purple flower for hair.[30] A 58-year-old Uruguayan man who disappeared four months ago in the remote Andes was found to have survived the winter by eating raisins and rats, and the Wall Street Journal praised the squirrel with cashews and spring rolls and the Caribbean jerk squirrel with fried plantains served at the second annual World Championship Squirrel Cook Off in Bentonville, Arkansas. “We’ve been trying,” said a publicist for the Bentonville Convention and Visitors Bureau, “to polish our image.”[31][32]


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No one would talk to me for this piece. Or rather, more than twenty women talked to me, sometimes for hours at a time, but only after I promised to leave out their names, and give them what I began to call deep anonymity. This was strange, because what they were saying did not always seem that extreme. Yet here in my living room, at coffee shops, in my inbox and on my voicemail, were otherwise outspoken female novelists, editors, writers, real estate agents, professors, and journalists of various ages so afraid of appearing politically insensitive that they wouldn’t put their names to their thoughts, and I couldn’t blame them. 

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In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

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After losing their savings in the stock market crash of 2008, seniors Barb and Chuck find seasonal employment at Amazon fulfillment centers.

Amount one Colorado county spent in January 2016 to arm school security with assault rifles:

$12,000

A rabbit brain was frozen and thawed without destroying its memories.

The shooter discarded his AR-15 semiautomatic weapon, the model used in six of America’s ten deadliest mass shootings and referred to by the NRA as “America’s rifle,” and then fled to a nearby Walmart, where customers can buy rifles but cannot purchase music with lyrics that contain the word “fuck.”

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Report — From the June 2013 issue

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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