Weekly Review — May 5, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Riots break out in Baltimore, gunmen attack an anti-Muslim conference, and two tortoises set a building on fire 

WeeklyReviewJK-captionThousands of mourners in Baltimore attended the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a broken neck while he was in police custody, nearly filling the New Shiloh Baptist Church to capacity.[1] Following the service, riots broke out across the city.[2] Protesters threw rocks, bottles, and bricks at officers, injuring 20 of them; set fire to 15 buildings and 144 vehicles; and looted a CVS.[3][4] Officials declared a state of emergency and requested police reinforcements from across the Mid-Atlantic region, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie canceled his fundraiser in Maryland.[5][6] Two hundred protesters were arrested, and a masked 16-year-old was slapped in the face at least three times by his mother after she caught him throwing objects at the police. “My instinct,” the boy said of seeing his mother, “was to run.”[7][8][9] Six officers were charged with crimes ranging from assault to second-degree depraved-heart murder for their roles in Gray’s death.[10] Baltimore’s mayor apologized for referring to the protesters as thugs, and the police released a statement alleging that two of the city’s rival gangs had teamed up to “take out” officers during the unrest.[11][12] Peaceful Baltimore demonstrators held hands and sang “Amazing Grace,” and in Indonesia eight prisoners convicted of drug trafficking sang “Amazing Grace” while tied to metal poles before being executed by a firing squad of 96 riflemen. “No misses,” said the country’s attorney general.[13][14] The U.S. Supreme Court heard a case brought by three condemned prisoners in Oklahoma who claimed that the sedative midazolam, which could be one of the drugs used to put them to death, would not render them unconscious and insensate before the potassium chloride used to stop their hearts was injected. “When you read these descriptions of what [potassium chloride] does, that it gives the feeling of being burned alive,” Justice Elena Kagan said, “it sounds really considerably more than having a needle put in your thigh.”[15][16] U.S. Marshals arrested a retired FBI agent for perjuring himself while testifying in the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, a mobster who worked as an FBI informant for 25 years; and an investigation of food served to prisoners on Rikers Island found that the meatloaf contained high levels of brodifacoum, a poison for rats.[17][18] Colorado inmate Christopher Scarver claimed that he murdered the serial murderer and cannibal Jeffery Dahmer in 1994 at Wisconsin’s Columbia Correctional Institute because Dahmer routinely sculpted severed limbs out of his food and covered them with ketchup, and because prison food caused Scarver to have a psychotic break. “Bread, refined sugar,” he said. “Those are the main culprits.”[19]

A police officer in Garland, Texas, shot and killed two gunmen who opened fire outside a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest held by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as an anti-Muslim hate group.[20] It was reported that Israeli soldiers fired on civilians during Operation Protective Edge, a 2014 military operation in Gaza. “If it looks like a man,” a soldier was reportedly told by his commander, “shoot.”[21] Doctors in Mumbai fed a 30-year-old man 60 bananas to induce the excretion of a stolen gold necklace valued at $995.[22] The island nation of Vanuatu announced that they were offering to sell citizenship for $162,000 and received no applications.[23] It was reported that real-estate companies in China were paying Westerners to hang around neighborhoods to increase home values, which have fallen because of overbuilding; and a Chinese construction company announced that it completed a 57-story skyscraper in 19 days of work.[24][25] A study found that the goods whose costs are most frequently searched online in South Africa are cows, and, in the United States, where a two-headed cow was born, the most common items are patents.[26][27] McDonald’s discontinued the Deluxe Quarter Pounder, a NASA probe crashed into Mercury, and astronauts watched Star Wars in the International Space Station. “No big deal,” they tweeted.[28][29][30]

The Latvian National Armed Forces reported seeing two Russian warships near its coastline, and a group of pro-Putin bikers retracing the Red Army’s 3,700-mile march across Europe were rumored to have abandoned their motorcycles and rented a car.[31][32] Police in Karelia, Russia, launched an investigation into accusations that 84 naval cadets had performed “mass cunnilingus” on a Russian porn star, police in Lakeland, Florida, shut down a house known for prostitution, and WalletHub ranked Vermont as the best state for working moms.[33][34][35] It was reported that last year a dog infected four people in Colorado with the plague, a 90-year-old tortoise in Wales named Mrs. T was outfitted with a two-wheeled walker after a rat chewed her front legs off, two tortoises in Fordingbridge, England, named Dinky and Toby set their owner’s home on fire by knocking over a heating lamp, and a tortoise and a cat in Lower Kingswood, England, were killed in a house fire.[36][37][38][39] A record 170,513 people attended the Kentucky Derby, which sold $2,500 mint juleps in gold-plated souvenir cups; 16,507 fans paid between $1,000 and $40,000 for tickets to watch Manny Pacquiao box Floyd Mayweather Jr.; and, owing to concerns over violence in Baltimore, no fans were allowed to attend a scheduled baseball game at Camden Yards, at which the Baltimore Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox 8–2 in front of 45,971 empty seats. “This isn’t the way,” said Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, “you want to make history.”[40][41][42]


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Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that the city of Lakeland is in Vermont. It is in Florida.

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