Weekly Review — September 20, 2016, 12:34 pm

Weekly Review

A homemade bomb explodes under a dumpster in New York City, Donald Trump admits U.S. president Barack Obama was born in America, and a fertility doctor in Indiana is accused of artificially inseminating his patients with his own sperm

http://harpers.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Screen-Shot-2016-05-23-at-2.42.30-PM.pngThe U.S. government apologized to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for carrying out an air strike six days after the negotiation of a ceasefire, mistakenly killing at least 62 of his soldiers. “When we hear there is a ceasefire, we say, ‘God protect us,’” said an aid worker in Aleppo.[1][2][3] Assad laughed as he toured the deserted streets of Daraya, a Damascus suburb recently surrendered by the rebels after four years of bombardment and starvation. “He’s a different kind of bloodthirsty dictator,” said a Human Rights Watch worker. “The kind who shops online.”[4][5] In Manhattan, a homemade bomb exploded under a dumpster in the neighborhood of Chelsea, injuring 29 people, and a second device, made with Christmas lights and flip phones, was found on 27th Street and shipped to the FBI’s bomb lab in Quantico, Virginia, for further examination.[6][7][8][9] In Minnesota, an Islamic State militant dressed as a private security guard stabbed ten people at a shopping mall, before being shot and killed in a Macy’s by an off-duty police officer.[10] Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump conceded that U.S. president Barack Obama was born in America, Jane Goodall compared Trump’s behavior to that of male chimpanzees performing dominance rituals, a dead Republican won his primary race for a seat in the New York State Assembly, and a deceased Siamese cat was sent a California voter-registration application in the mail.[11][12][13][14]

A military academy outside Philadelphia was placed on lockdown after a student mistook for gunfire the sound of bubble wrap being popped.[15] In the Philippines, the militant group Abu Sayyaf released a Norwegian man for a ransom of 30 million pesos.[16] De Halve Maan brewery installed a two-mile-long pipeline to transport beer beneath the cobblestone streets of Bruges, and a former ski-resort bartender completed the Appalachian Trail in record time, surviving on bacon, beer, and rolls of Spree.[17][18] It was revealed that a sugar-industry trade group paid Harvard researchers the equivalent of nearly $50,000 in the 1960s to downplay the link between sucrose and coronary heart disease, and Swiss researchers found that drinking a glass of beer enhances empathy. “Alcohol,” said Wim van den Brink, the former chair of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, “makes people happier.”[19][20]

Scientists in the Galápagos Islands credited an endangered giant tortoise named Diego with saving his species by fathering more than 800 offspring.[21] A study in the United States suggested that suicides among young children are linked more often to A.D.D. than depression.[22] NASA researchers found that Pluto paints one of its moons with rust-colored macromolecules, China launched a space lab called Heavenly Palace, and the Internet company Alibaba fired four employees for stealing 124 boxes of moon cakes.[23][24][25] In Japan, a quinquennial government study found that 42 percent of men and 44 percent of women who are unmarried and between the ages of 18 and 34 have never had sex. “They have gaps between their ideals and the reality,” said a researcher.[26] An Indianapolis fertility doctor was accused of using his own sperm to artificially inseminate patients, and a Delaware man pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing his former psychiatrist.[27][28] An Indiana man who was passed over for a high school coaching job was arrested after sending his rival dead skunks and raccoons in the mail, and a North Carolina woman was charged with failing to report a death after her mother’s body was discovered in a freezer sold at a yard sale.[29][30] A woman in Brisbane, Australia, spent $500 to save a pet goldfish that had choked on a pebble, and a Northumbrian man called the police to report that his ex-girlfriend was overfeeding his hamster.[31][32] A Florida woman falsely reported a bomb threat at a probation office so that her boyfriend wouldn’t have to provide a urine sample, a Pennsylvania man who goes by the name Nephew wet himself in an attempt to dissolve heroin in his pocket during a drug bust, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York installed a working toilet of solid 18-karat-gold in a small restroom on its fifth-floor ramp, titling it “America.”[33][34][35]

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No one would talk to me for this piece. Or rather, more than twenty women talked to me, sometimes for hours at a time, but only after I promised to leave out their names, and give them what I began to call deep anonymity. This was strange, because what they were saying did not always seem that extreme. Yet here in my living room, at coffee shops, in my inbox and on my voicemail, were otherwise outspoken female novelists, editors, writers, real estate agents, professors, and journalists of various ages so afraid of appearing politically insensitive that they wouldn’t put their names to their thoughts, and I couldn’t blame them. 

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In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

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"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

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