Weekly Review — October 1, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Obama and Rouhani make nuclear chitchat, Ted Cruz gets squirrelly, and Cambridgeshire loses a tea-and-bondage party

A Humbug (Weekly)En route to John F. Kennedy International Airport from the 68th session of the U.N. General Assembly, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone with U.S. president Barack Obama about what Rouhani called “the nuclear issue,” marking the first direct contact since 1979 between the two countries’ heads of state. “Have a nice day,” Rouhani reportedly said at the end of the conversation. “Khodahafez,” Obama reportedly responded. Rouhani flew home to Tehran, where his motorcade was pelted with eggs and shoes, and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu boarded a plane to New York, where he planned to speak about Iran before the General Assembly. “I will tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and the onslaught of smiles,” said Netanyahu. “Why must everything always be destroyed?” said a Rouhani supporter.[1][2][3][4] In Havana, where on average two buildings collapse each month, emergency workers used sniffer rabbits to search for survivors in the rubble of a former convent, and in Mumbai, a five-story apartment block became the city’s third structure in six months to collapse. “I sometimes go outside because I’m afraid the building won’t hold,” said Habanero José Ramón. “We can’t know that tomorrow it won’t be our turn,” said Mumbaikar Anupama Shivalkar.[5][6] A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck along the Chaman Fault in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, killing at least 500 people, injuring more than 700 others, leaving an estimated 100,000 homeless, and prompting islets to form off the coastal towns of Gwadar, Ormara, and Pasni. “Nothing is left,” said a survivor in the district of Awaran, “not even our shoes.” Baluch separatists fired two rockets at a helicopter carrying the director of the federal government’s disaster-management authority and attacked a group of Frontier Corps soldiers engaged in relief operations. A 6.8-magnitude aftershock four days after the initial quake caused tremors as far east as Karachi. “At first I thought it was a delusion,” said an office worker. “But all my colleagues ran out.”[7][8][9][10][11]

Texas Republican Ted Cruz held the floor of a nearly empty Senate for 21 hours and 19 minutes, speaking in favor of defunding the Affordable Care Act, whose Health Insurance Marketplace launches October 1. “Squirrel fur. Happy, happy, happy,” said Cruz. “Do I think this has been a constructive process? Not particularly,” said Senator Bob Corker (R., Tenn.). “Atmosphere is really what they’re complaining about,” said a Cruz supporter about Republican leaders. “They’re like the dinosaurs seeing the first icebergs floating by.”[12][13][14] The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its fifth assessment report since 1990, announcing with 95 percent confidence that human activity is the primary cause of global warming. “The heat is on,” said U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-Moon.[15] Thames Water officials announced plans to convert fatbergs harvested from the sewers of London into biofuel; Burger King launched the lower-fat Satisfry; Ipswich horticulturalists announced the development of the TomTato, a potato-rooted plant that fruits tomatoes; and a Swedish man entered a supermarket and urinated over 700 kronor worth of apples and oranges.[16][17][18][19] Wisconsinites debated open-carry laws at Houdini Plaza in Appleton. “We have the right to keep and bear arms,” said a man carrying a Glock handgun and a Mossberg shotgun. “They don’t belong in downtown Appleton,” said a man carrying a chicken named Winchester.[20] A zoo in Chessington, England, began providing gray coveralls to patrons dressed in animal prints. “Animals are getting confused,” said a spokeswoman, “when they see what looks like zebras and giraffes driving.”[21]

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The trustees of Trumpington Village Hall in Cambridgeshire canceled a tea-and-bondage party.[22] A Bedlington man pleaded guilty to punching a police horse named Bud.[23] British estate agents warned of an upsurge in gazumping, and a Norwich crown court sentenced two North Anglians for affray after they attacked a man outside a kebab house while dressed as Oompa Loompas.[24][25] Thirteen motorists in Moreno Valley, California, were cited for failing to yield to a seven-foot-tall gingerbread man in a crosswalk, and a Catholic diocese in southern Austria was fined for mass texting.[26][27] A security researcher enrolled his penis in the newly released iPhone 5s’s biometric identification system, and a man from Gigante, Colombia, who deliberately overdosed on Viagra was recovering from a penectomy.[28][29] Residents of a town outside Pittsburgh suggested that the rounded tops of recently installed concrete traffic bollards be removed. “They’re too modern,” said a local commissioner. “They’re calling it Penis Road,” said a resident.[30] A Saudi cleric warned that women who drive risk damage to their ovaries, and a California couple mistook their ten-year-old daughter’s gunshot wound for menarche.[31] The College of Arms released the conjugal arms of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, formed by the addition to Prince William’s arms of an escutcheon Per pale Azure and Gules a Chevron Or cotised Argent between three Acorns slipped and leaved Or, and physicists at the Center for Ultracold Atoms found that two photons entering a rubidium cloud separately are likely to leave together.[32][33] Biologists induced fluorescence in the sperm of two species of fruit fly. “It’s difficult,” said a researcher, “to observe the competition between ejaculates.”[34][35]


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Around three in the morning on a cold December Sunday, brothers José and Romel Sucuzhañay began to walk home from a bar in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It was a cloudy night, only a few degrees above freezing, and the houses and stores lining their route wore impassive, nighttime guises—shades drawn, metal grates locked down. Romel had only recently arrived from Ecuador. José, a thirty-­one-year-old father of two, ran a successful real estate agency in the neighborhood. The two had spent the evening eating and drinking at a quinceañera at St. Brigid Church, and afterward, they stopped at a local bar called Christopher’s Palace. They were feeling the alcohol as they headed back to José’s apartment. When they realized that José had left his coat behind in the bar, Romel took off his jacket and draped it around his younger brother’s shoulders. They continued to walk up Bushwick Avenue, swaying a bit, arms around each other for warmth and ballast.

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