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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Donald Trump’s presidency signals a profound but inchoate realignment of American politics. On the one hand, his administration may represent the consolidation of minority control by a Republican-dominated Senate under the leadership of a president who came to office after losing the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots. Such an imbalance of power could lead to a second civil war—indeed, the nation’s first and only great fraternal conflagration was sparked off in part for precisely this reason. On the other hand, Trump’s reign may be merely an interregnum, in which the old white power structure of the Republican Party is dying and a new oppositional coalition struggles to be born.

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Over the past three years, the city of South Tucson, Arizona, a largely Latino enclave nestled inside metropolitan Tucson, came close to abolishing its fire and police departments. It did sell off the library and cut back fire-truck crews from four to three people—whereupon two thirds of the fire department quit—and slashed the police force to just sixteen employees. “We’re a small city, just one square mile, surrounded by a larger city,” the finance director, Lourdes Aguirre, explained to me. “We have small-town dollars and big-city problems.”

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When I saw Ted Cruz speak, in early August, it was at Underwood’s Cafeteria in Brownwood. He was on a weeklong swing through rural central Texas, hitting small towns and military bases that ensured him friendly, if not always entirely enthusiastic, crowds. In Brownwood, some in the audience of two hundred were still nibbling on peach cobbler as Cruz began with an anecdote about his win in a charity basketball game against ABC’s late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. They rewarded him with smug chuckles when he pointed out that “Hollywood celebrities” would be hurting over the defeat “for the next fifty years.” His pitch for votes was still an off-the-rack Tea Party platform, complete with warnings about the menace of creeping progressivism, delivered at a slightly mechanical pace but with lots of punch. The woman next to me remarked, “This is the fire in the gut! Like he had the first time!” referring to Cruz’s successful long-shot run in the 2011 Texas Republican Senate primary. And it’s true—the speech was exactly like one Cruz would have delivered in 2011, right down to one specific detail: he never mentioned Donald Trump by name.

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H

e is a nondescript man.

I’d never used that adjective about a client. Not until this one. My seventeenth. He’d requested an evening time and came Tuesdays at six-thirty. For months he didn’t tell me what he did.

The first session I said what I often said to begin: How can I help you?

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Yawn, I thought, but said, Tell me more.

I don’t feel what I should for her.

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