Weekly Review — July 12, 2016, 1:46 pm

Weekly Review

Philando Castile and Alton Sterling are killed by police officers, Donald Trump says Saddam Hussein was good at fighting terrorism, and a woman in Florida hits her boyfriend with her baby


An officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, fatally shot a 32-year-old black cafeteria supervisor named Philando Castile during a traffic stop. The immediate aftermath of the shooting was streamed on Facebook by Castile’s girlfriend, who was in the car with him, along with her four-year-old daughter. “He was reaching for his wallet,” she said, “and the officer just shot him.”[1] In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, two police officers shot and killed Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man whom they had tasered and pinned to the ground outside a convenience store.[2] At a Dallas protest organized in response to the shootings, a gunman armed with an assault rifle fatally shot five police officers and fled to a parking garage, where he was killed by a robot carrying explosives.[3] A white North Carolina man who fired a pistol at a sheriff’s deputy was arrested without injury, and in Bristol, Tennessee, a black man upset by police violence opened fire on cars driving on a local freeway, killing one motorist before being shot and arrested by police. “I ain’t condoning nothing,” said the suspect’s brother. “But frustration, we can all understand that.”[4][5] Australia, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates warned travelers to the United States to avoid large gatherings.[6] FBI Director James Comey announced that Hillary Clinton had sent or received 110 emails that contained classified information over her private server, but didn’t recommend that the Justice Department pursue criminal charges.[7] The Democratic Party revised its platform to support a pathway to marijuana legalization, and Donald Trump praised Saddam Hussein for his alleged ability to effectively fight terrorists. “He did that,” said Trump, “so good.”[8][9]

After seven years of investigation, the U.K. government’s Chilcot inquiry released a 2.6-million-word report on the Iraq War, finding that the invasion was launched based on fabricated intelligence that might have been inspired by the 1996 action film The Rock.[10][11] Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a Shia shrine north of Baghdad, killing at least 37 people; renewed fighting broke out between rival factions in Juba, South Sudan, killing more than 300 people; and the White House announced that the Islamic State was losing the war on Twitter.[12][13][14] A Cyprus hotel that promises visitors a “diverse range of shows, fun and activities” apologized to guests after employees dressed in dark clothing burst into the dining room shooting fake guns.[15] Seven members of a gang in Los Angeles were indicted for firebombing a public-housing complex, and a 100-resident tent city in Victoria, British Columbia, was ordered to be evacuated under suspicion of gang activity.[16][17] A 36-year-old man in San Diego was arrested for setting four homeless men on fire, killing three of them.[18] A husband and wife from North Carolina were arrested after attacking each other with pizza rolls, a Kentucky woman was charged with assault after hitting her husband over the head with a burrito and stabbing him, and a Florida woman was accused of hitting her boyfriend with her baby, which, a witness said, she “swung like a bat.”[19][20][21]

Gambia, Tanzania, and the U.S. state of Virginia banned child marriage.[22][23] Parents in Denver discovered that their children’s Cub Scout camp was sponsored by Hooters after viewing Facebook photos of the kids posing with Hooters waitresses. “I’m like, ‘Are they wearing Hooters visors?’” said one mother.[24] Microsoft apologized after a recruiter sent an email to interns promising an evening of “hella noms,” “lots of dranks,” and the “best beats.” “HELL YES TO GETTING LIT ON A MONDAY NIGHT,” it read.[25] Police in the Northern Territory of Australia warned users of the mobile game Pokémon Go to stay out of a police station that the game encouraged users to visit. “You don’t actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokéballs,” read a police statement.[26] A Wyoming teenager playing the same game discovered a dead body in the Wind River, and muggers in Missouri were using the app to lure potential victims.[27][28] Timmonsville, South Carolina, passed an ordinance that would fine anyone wearing sagging pants up to $600, and the Danish government was criticized for the difficulty of its new citizenship test, which asks questions related to Danish films, the 16th-century astronomer Tycho Brahe, and the composer Carl Nielsen.[29][30] The Georgia Supreme Court ruled in favor of a KKK chapter’s attempt to participate in the state’s “Adopt-A-Highway” program.[31] In Indonesia, twelve people died during a three-day, 13-mile-long traffic jam at an intersection nicknamed Brexit, and in Italy a Northern Irish jockey was kicked in the face by a horse and then run over by the ambulance sent to help him.[32][33] Sixteen people were injured during Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls, a man was killed during a bull run near Valencia, and a professional Spanish bullfighter was gored to death on live television.[34][35] A group of Buddhist monks on Prince Edward Island purchased over 600 pounds of live lobsters and set them free in the ocean.[36] In Boston, a cab driver returned the $187,786.75 cash inheritance of a homeless man who left his backpack in the cab. “I’m going to do what I always said I’m going to do,” said the heir of his future plans. “Die in Prague.”[37]

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Paul Ryan fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump goes golfing for the thirteenth time as president of the United States, and rivers in India and New Zealand are granted full human rights

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The White House puts Iran “on notice,” Trump threatens to send U.S. troops into Mexico, and Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of winter

Index January 20, 2017, 2:09 pm

Cabinet of Curiosities

A numerical investigation of Donald Trump’s appointees

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Secrets and Lies·

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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.

Good Bad Bad Good·

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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.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

Poem for Harm·

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Reflections on harm in language and the trouble with Whitman

Constitution in Crisis·

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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.

Does the path out of our current era of stalemate, minority rule, and executive abuse require amending the Constitution? Do we need a new constitutional convention to rewrite the document and update it for the twenty-­first century? Should we abolish it entirely?

This spring, Harper’s Magazine invited five lawmakers and scholars to New York University’s law school to consider the constitutional crisis of the twenty-­first century. The event was moderated by Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown and the author of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon.

Life after Life·

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

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.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:


A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

A solid-gold toilet named “America” was stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire, England.

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Happiness Is a Worn Gun


“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

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