Weekly Review — June 7, 2016, 12:37 pm

Weekly Review

Flooding in Germany kills 10 people, a giant panda is born in Belgium, and a man in El Paso challenges his daughter to a duel

SharonRiley-WR-avatar2Storms killed at least 10 people in Germany and caused the river Seine in France to rise nearly 20 feet.[1] The Louvre announced that it would close in order to relocate 250,000 works of art, a man on horseback was swept away by floodwaters, and more than 80 people were injured by lightning strikes at a German rock concert. “Nature is more powerful than man,” said one Parisian.[2][3][4][5] Scientists proposed making a synthetic version of the human genome, and NASA and the European Space Agency announced that the universe was expanding as much as nine percent faster than previously believed.[6][7] All 66 books of the King James Bible were translated into emoji and released as “Scripture 4 Millennials” by the translator B-).[8] Fires broke out at churches in Birmingham, Alabama; Brooklyn, Illinois; and Detroit.[9][10][11] In Pennsylvania, a man crashed his Mercedes into a church, and in California, a man broke into a church, smashed furniture and bottles of sacramental wine for two hours, and set the building on fire.[12][13] An Anglican vicar who was arrested for punching a paramedic and spitting at a police officer claimed that he had diplomatic immunity from the Vatican, and a man in Pennsylvania gave a group of Amish boys cans of beer and then rammed their horse and buggy with his car. “Rumspringa!” said the man.[14][15]

A lawyer in Arizona was disbarred for trying to persuade a prospective client to pay him in nude photos.[16] Islamic State militants in Libya accidentally revealed their location by complaining over the radio about cars playing Bollywood music too loudly, and a Scottish teenager hacked into the administration page of a North Korean social-networking site by using the password “password.”[17][18] A Tasmanian devil that recently received a pacemaker was returned to the San Diego Zoo; 40 dead tiger cubs and a dead bear were found in a freezer at the Tiger Temple near Bangkok; and in Belgium, a giant panda was born in captivity for the first time in three years.[19][20][21] In Tbilisi, right-wing extremists wearing sausage links around their necks threw grilled meat and fish at customers in a vegan café, and a naked-bike-riding event in Bristol, England, was rerouted to avoid a neo-Nazi gathering.[22][23] Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told the audience at a campaign rally in California that he had a lot of support among black people. “Look,” said Trump, pointing to a man in the crowd, “at my African-American.”[24][25] In Romania, it was reported that Vasile Cepoi, the incumbent mayor of the town of Dr?gu?eni, would be challenged by candidates named Vasile Cepoi and Vasile Cepoi[26]

The city of Sugar Land, Texas, unveiled a statue of two girls taking a selfie.[27][28] A cyclist in Australia was jump-kicked by a kangaroo, breaking three of her ribs and rupturing one of her breast implants. A man in El Paso, Texas, challenged his daughter to a duel.[29] In Connecticut, a driver who attacked another driver with a chainsaw at a red light accidentally cut himself and sprayed blood on the other man’s car.[30] In Pennsylvania, a woman at a drive-through fell out of her car, which ran her over, and in Florida, a man who threw a three-and-a-half-foot alligator into a drive-through window was sentenced to one year’s probation.[31][32][33] A businessman in the United Arab Emirates paid nearly 5 million dollars for the license plate “1.”[34] A member of an advisory group to the king of Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa against theft of Wi-Fi; Ammon and Ryan Bundy, who led a 41-day armed takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January, filed a complaint after they could not get Wi-Fi on their iPads in prison; and a man who has been jailed at New York’s Rikers Island for five months realized that his bail had been set at two dollars.[35][36][37] A statistician in England found that British couples have less sex than they did 20 years ago, in part because they bring their smartphones to bed, and David Levy, an artificial-intelligence expert, warned that sex robots would one day increase humans’ performance anxiety.[38][39][40]

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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!”

“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.

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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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Reflections on harm in language and the trouble with Whitman

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America’s Constitution was once celebrated as a radical and successful blueprint for democratic governance, a model for fledgling republics across the world. But decades of political gridlock, electoral corruption, and dysfunction in our system of government have forced scholars, activists, and citizens to question the document’s ability to address the thorniest issues of modern ­political life.

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.
—Chaucer

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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