Weekly Review — March 16, 2017, 2:17 pm

Weekly Review

South Korea’s president is removed from office, Kellyanne Conway suggests that Barack Obama could have spied on Donald Trump using “microwaves that turned into cameras,” and a lake in Australia turns pink.

the magnificent bird of paradise.

the magnificent bird of paradise.

The Constitutional Court of South Korea voted unanimously to remove President Park Geun-hye from office, stripping her of immunity from bribery and extortion charges.[1] Thousands of people took to the streets outside the courthouse to hear the decision, and three people were killed after protesters attacked police with flagpoles and ladders. “Sorry,” said Park.[2][3][4] In the United States, legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act was advanced by the House Ways and Means Committee after 18 hours of deliberation, during which time the Republican members of Congress passed around candy and the Democrats proposed calling the legislation the Republican Pay More for Less Care Act.[5][6] “It’s not about branding,” said White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, defending the administration’s reported desire not to name the act after Donald Trump, whose name has appeared on lamps, wine, steaks, mattresses, ties, perfumes, bottles of water, and a multilevel-marketing company that claimed to tailor vitamin regimens to customers’ health needs based on samples of their urine. [7] It was reported that Trump had spent 22.8 percent of his time since taking office in Florida, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari re-emerged after disappearing for seven weeks while on holiday in England, and Brazilian president Michel Temer said ghosts forced him to move out of the 75,000-square-foot presidential palace. “Bad vibes,” he said.[8][9][10]

Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocked a revised executive order signed by Trump temporarily banning new refugees and immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries, and Trump requested that 46 U.S. attorneys hand in letters of resignation.[11][12][13] WikiLeaks published 8,761 leaked CIA documents revealing that the agency had developed tools to hack into phones and cars, and to listen to citizens through their TVs while the devices appeared to be switched off; and Conway said that former president Barack Obama could have spied on Trump through “microwaves that turned into cameras.”[14][15][16] On International Women’s Day, schools were closed in Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia because teachers requested the day off en masse, dozens of nurseries and children’s centers closed in Australia after women went home early to protest the gender wage gap, and Trump, who has referred to women as “dogs,” “big fat pigs,” and “pieces of ass,” tweeted that he had “tremendous respect” for women.[17][18] It was announced that women visiting prison inmates in Maine would no longer have to remove their bras before entering.[19]

Algae turned a lake in Melbourne, Australia, hot pink; people who ate Peeps-flavored Oreos reported their mouths, tongues, and excrement had turned pink; and officials told residents of a small town in Canada that their tap water, which was contaminated with hot-pink potassium permanganate, was safe for consumption. “They assured me that everything was very good,” said one resident. “It wasn’t going to turn me into Spider-Man.”[20][21][22] A five-foot-long shark’s carcass was found in a shopping cart in a Walmart parking lot in Florida.[23] Legislation was introduced in Maine to require that dogs wear seatbelts, and a team of sled dogs in Alaska reached a checkpoint on the Iditarod race without their musher, who had gone to sleep and fallen out of his sled and arrived an hour later.[24][25] Scientists announced that there is a variety of potato capable of growing on Mars, that music makes curry taste spicier, and that the Mona Lisa is smiling.[26][27][28] An Ohio couple was arrested for faking the wife’s murder in a bathtub using ketchup and texting photos to their friends, and it was reported that a funeral home in Memphis, Tennessee, was offering drive-through viewings of the deceased.[29][30] In Mexico, the town of Tultepec honored 31 people who died in a recent explosion at a fireworks factory by putting on a fireworks show. “Fireworks,” said one resident, “is what we do.”[31][32]

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Having already determined in Citizens United that corporations are people, the Supreme Court decided in May that people, at least working people of vulnerable status, can be prevented from acting as corporations. In three consolidated cases involving disputed wage claims, the Court ruled that employers can force workers to accept individual arbitration instead of joining together in class-action lawsuits. Writing for the majority, Trump-appointed justice Neil Gorsuch maintained that the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act was more pertinent to the cases at hand than the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, which asserts that workers have a right to “concerted activities” for the purpose of “mutual aid or protection.”

[caption id="attachment_270125" align="aligncenter" width="630"] Illustrations by Richard Mia[/caption]

In actuality, as this ruling and others before and since have made abundantly clear, workers don’t have any rights at all except those they wrest through disciplined organization and militant struggle. Although the Supreme Court’s decision does not affect workers in unions, it does amount to an ominous, ideologically motivated attack on the principle of collective action from which unions derive.

As expected, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke for the dissent. Noting that in 1992 only 2 percent of non-unionized employers used mandatory arbitration agreements, while 54 percent use them now, Ginsburg said that by upholding these “arm-twisted” and “take-it-or-leave-it” contracts, the Court had all but guaranteed “the under-enforcement of federal and state statutes designed to advance the well-being of vulnerable workers,” a weakening that some attorneys worry will extend to cases of discrimination and sexual harassment. Gorsuch dismissed Ginsburg’s objections as “apocalyptic.”

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Con artists are preying on undocumented immigrants in detention

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The few white boys in our town could ball. Breakaway layups, nothing-but-the-bottom-of-the-net free throws, buzzer-beater fadeaways. They slept with basketballs in their beds and told us about their dreams. We tried not to stare at the diamond studs in their ears as they talked about winning imaginary games in overtime or seeing blurry scoreboards. It don’t matter if I can see the score anyway, I finna play my hardest regardless, Brent Zalesky said once, squinting his eyes in the sunlight. Brent Zalesky lived in the Crest. He didn’t flinch at the sound of gunshots, he received detentions weekly, and he ganked tapes and CDs from Wherehouse with the clunky security devices still attached. Brent Zalesky knew how to get them off, armed only with pliers and a Bic lighter. This was 1996, and he never got caught. He took music requests and we’d find surprises in our lockers at school. We loved him for this. We loved his buzzed blond hair, his stainless-steel chain necklace, his jawline, his position. Brent Zalesky played point guard. All the boys on the team respected him. They called him Z.

When the boys got their basketball photos from Lifetouch, we collected them like baseball cards and kept them in hole-punched plastic sleeves in our day planners. Each year, Z’s wallet-size basketball pic slid into the front of our collections. Freshman year, he simply signed his name on the back: Peace, Brent. Junior year, he wrote more words on the one he gave Marorie Balancio: Sup Rorie, I think you’re hella fine. Peace, Brent.

Back then there were two movie theaters in town and he took her to the one that didn’t smell like Black & Milds and piss. Marorie said he drove up with a cigarette tucked behind his right ear, but he didn’t light it until after he dropped her off at home. She saw the small spark hanging outside his car window because he had waited until she unlocked the front door. Marorie couldn’t help but look back and wave before she walked inside. Earlier, during the movie, Brent Zalesky had fed her popcorn. She said it was like he knew exactly how much she needed and when she needed more in her mouth. We could only imagine what it felt like, to have his fingers so close to our open lips.

“The Altar” (detail) by Robin Layton © The artist.

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Illustration by Stan Fellows

Illustration by Stan Fellows

“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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