Weekly Review — July 15, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

The United States prepares to return thousands of minors to Central America; Israel launches an offensive in Gaza; and a wildfire traces back to Freddie Smoke

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

The Obama Administration requested $3.7 billion from Congress to confront a rapid rise in the number of unaccompanied children reaching the southern U.S. border from Central America, and announced that the United States would return most of the children to their countries of origin. Social-welfare agencies attributed the inflow of more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors caught sneaking over the border since October — double the number caught during the same period the year before — to rural poverty in Guatemala and urban gang violence in El Salvador and Honduras. “At first we saw a lot of kids who were being killed because when the gang came for their parents they happened to be in the car,” said a medical examiner in Santa Barbara, Honduras. “Now we see kids killing kids.”[1][2][3] HIV was detected in a Mississippi infant who last year had been declared cured of HIV, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that it had discovered six vials of the virus that causes smallpox in an unsecured storage room in Maryland, and the World Health Organization documented 46 new deaths from Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, bringing to 539 the total number of fatalities from an outbreak that began in February.[4][5][6][7] A Virginia man told journalists he had planted a flag in unclaimed territory between Egypt and Sudan, renamed it the Kingdom of North Sudan, and begun addressing his seven-year-old daughter as Princess Emily.[8] Candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani agreed to resolve Afghanistan’s disputed presidential election with an international audit, and to form a unity government regardless of who won.[9] A New Mexico judgeship was decided by coin toss.[10] Germany defeated Argentina 1–0 in extra time to win the 2014 World Cup, and the website Pornhub asked users to stop uploading highlights of Germany’s 7–1 semifinal victory over host nation Brazil to its “public humiliation” category.[11][12] A previously undocumented Amazonian tribe was reported to have made peaceful contact with a team of Brazilian scientists investigating complaints of crop and machete thefts from villagers. “They might have discovered,” said an American anthropologist, “that they can raid weaker neighbors and get goodies.”[13]

The Israeli Defense Forces launched more than 1,300 airstrikes in Gaza, killing at least 186 people and wounding 1,390, and Palestinian militants fired more than 1,000 rockets into Israel, wounding several people. Israel accused Hamas of incurring civilian casualties by firing rockets from populous areas, and said that it had shot down an unmanned Hamas drone over Israeli airspace. “Hamas is trying everything it can to produce some kind of achievement,” said defense minister Moshe Yaalon. “I wish I were a young man, so I could wear a suicide belt and go blow myself up in Tel Aviv,” said a 77-year-old Palestinian whose house had been bombed.[14][15][16][17] Iraq discovered 53 blindfolded and handcuffed corpses in the predominantly Shia village of Khamissiya, and notified the United Nations that insurgents from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had seized 88 pounds of non-enriched uranium compounds from a research lab in Mosul.[18][19] Germany ordered the chief U.S. intelligence officer stationed in Berlin to leave the country in response to allegations that two German officials had been spying for the United States.[20] Juneau, Alaska, closed Killewich Avenue during a jökulhlaup from Suicide Basin, and Swedish filmmaker Anders Weberg released a 72-minute trailer for his planned 720-hour film, Ambiancé. “Time,” said Weberg, “is something we can’t do anything about.”[21][22]

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South African author and Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer died at age 90.[23] Singapore’s National Library Board ordered the destruction of publicly collected copies of the children’s book And Tango Makes Three, in which two male penguins raise a chick, and China acknowledged that it allows citizens to trade in skins from captive tigers. “We do ban trade in tiger bones,” said an official.[24][25] Legal marijuana sales began in Washington State; Berkeley, California, ordered medical-marijuana dispensaries to give free marijuana to low-income residents; and authorities blamed a Shasta County, California, wildfire on marijuana farmer Freddie Smoke.[26][27][28] Fish were found to forge friendships in search of food. “You see little cliques develop,” said a biologist at the University of St. Andrews.[29] The Church of England voted to allow women to become bishops, and a truck carrying scented candles on a Bristol highway caught fire and covered the tarmac in wax.[30][31] Farmers attributed a rise in American chicken prices to the genetic manipulation of cocks. “When he got big,” said an official at the country’s third-largest poultry producer, “he didn’t breed as much.”[32] In Turner, Oregon, a Humpty Dumpty statue toppled from a wall and couldn’t be reassembled, and at the San Fermín festival in Spain, Bill Hillmann, a co-author of Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona, was gored in the thigh. Said a great-grandson of Ernest Hemingway: “Bill fell.”[33][34]


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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

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About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

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For time ylost, this know ye,
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I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

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