Weekly Review — November 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

U.S. congressional candidates woo voters, Sweden recognizes Palestine, and the Pope says God is not a magician

ElephantWalk350The Pew Research Center predicted that only 40 percent of Americans eligible to vote in the 2014 midterm elections will do so on November 4.[1] In the race for New York’s 11th Congressional District, incumbent Michael Grimm, who was indicted on 20 counts of mail fraud, tax fraud, and perjury, and who earlier this year threatened to throw a NY1 reporter off of the balcony of the Capitol building, was chided by a Staten Island newspaper for being “hot headed” and “distasteful,” and for making Staten Island “the laughing stock of the nation”; the paper endorsed Grimm, who has a 19-point lead in the polls. In a speech at the Hibernian Society in South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, the incumbent in the state’s Senate race, joked that “if I get to be president, white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great”; FiveThirtyEight.com projected that Graham has a 99 percent chance of holding his seat.[2][3][4][5][6][7] Ted Cruz, a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, responded to the news that Apple CEO Tim Cook was gay by telling a reporter that while he supported anti-gay marriage legislation, he agreed that same-sex couples should be allowed marry in states where it is legal. “Yes. No, no, I agree,” he said. “Perhaps you are not understanding my position.” A former neo-Nazi running for town council in Apple Valley, California, said he is “not a hater,” and the chairwoman for the New Hampshire Republican Party likened winning seats in Congress to drowning Democrats. “Push their heads under over and over again,” she said, “until they cannot breathe anymore.”[8][9][10] Tom Harkin, Iowa’s Democratic Senate incumbent, said his challenger, Republican Joni Ernst, was “as good-looking as Taylor Swift,” and for the second time in Republican Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio’s campaign, a former staffer accused him of sexual harassment. “His fly was undone, and he had his hand grasping his genitals,” the male staffer said of an encounter with DeMaio, who leads by 13 percent in the polls.[11][12]

A video created by the harassment awareness group Hollaback! documented a woman walking through New York City getting catcalled more than 100 times over the course of ten hours; a video released by a Texas law firm showed an Austin police officer blowing a whistle at a woman and shouting, “Go ahead and call the cops, they can’t unrape you”; and a video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram featured its leader claiming that more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls have all been converted to Islam and married off. “If you knew the state your daughters are in today,” he said, “it might lead some of you to … die from grief.”[13][14][15] In Bangladesh, the leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, who was sentenced to death in January for arms smuggling, was sentenced to death for torture, rape, murder, and genocide during Bangladesh’s war for independence from Pakistan in 1971. In Syria, two government helicopters dropped barrel bombs on displaced citizens, killing around a dozen.[16][17] Sweden became the first country in the European Union to recognize Palestine, which the United States described as “premature”; an unnamed U.S. official in the White House said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “a chickenshit”; the Israeli-owned manufacturer of the carbonation device SodaStream, whose CEO supports a two-state solution in the region, said it would move its operations from the West Bank to Lehavim, a town 60 miles away in southern Israel; and a rabbi and a Palestinian man suspected of shooting an American-born Jewish activist were both shot in Jerusalem. The Middle East, said Israel’s foreign minister, “is more complicated than self-assembly furniture at IKEA.”[18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

A new poll conducted in the United Kingdom found that 42 percent of people believe in UFOs but only 25 percent believe in God, and the Pope told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that the theory of evolution and the Big Bang theory are true, adding that God was not a “magician, complete with a magic wand that can do all things.”[25][26] Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found that earth’s oceans were created by meteorites; scientists at the Laboratory of Astrophysics of Bordeaux, France, identified cosmic rings of gas and dust that they claim may help form life-supporting planets; and scientists at the Centre for Quantum Mechanics at Griffith University in Australia proposed the existence and interaction of many parallel universes. “All possibilities are therefore realized,” said the study’s lead author. “In some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonized by the Portuguese.”[27][28][29] In San Francisco, the Giants, who finished the season with the eighth-best record, won their third World Series championship in five years; in Zambia, where only 0.5 percent of the population is white, Guy Scott was sworn in as the first white African leader since apartheid; and in Hawaii, some residents of Pahoa opposed the idea of diverting a slow-moving river of 2,100-degree lava headed toward the center of town. “We’re just hoping,” said the Hawaii County Civil Defense Director, “this doesn’t become something that divides the community.”[30][31][32][33][34]

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