Weekly Review — April 26, 2017, 4:46 pm

Weekly Review

Marine Le Pen qualifies for the second round of the French presidential election, Bill O’Reilly is fired from Fox News, and Russia announces it is not “creating a Terminator.”

the magnificent bird of paradise.

the magnificent bird of paradise.

A man associated with the Islamic State opened fire on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, fatally shooting a police officer and injuring three bystanders.[1] More than 60,000 soldiers and police officers were deployed to polling stations across France as citizens voted in the first round of the country’s presidential election, whose top two finishers were Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, and Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader of the National Front, who has called for an immediate suspension of immigration.[2] British prime minister Theresa May announced a surprise election to be held in June “to make a success” of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta canceled his party’s election primaries because of a ballot shortage, and a village in Illinois elected a new mayor by coin toss.[3][4][5] U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions said he wanted to “put some people in jail” and confirmed that the Department of Justice was seeking to arrest the founder of WikiLeaks, a website President Donald Trump referred to as “good reading” that he does not “support or unsupport.”[6][7] It was reported that an American aircraft carrier the Trump Administration had claimed was “steaming into” the Korean Peninsula had in fact been thousands of miles away, heading in the opposite direction; North Korean officials called the carrier a “gross animal” that they were “ready to sink”; and American nuclear researchers monitoring satellite images of North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility detected three simultaneous games of volleyball being played at the site. “To have three,” said an analyst, “is quite unusual.”[8][9][10]

In Canada, it was reported that an excess of meltwater from the 15,000-square-mile Kaskawulsh Glacier in the Yukon Territory caused a river to reverse direction for the first time in modern history, and more than five times the average number of icebergs appeared off the coast of Newfoundland, covering an area of nearly one square mile.[11][12] In India, it was reported that 4,620 people have died in the past four years because of severe heat waves linked to climate change, and the suburb of Palam reached 113 degrees Fahrenheit, its hottest recorded temperature in April in a decade.[13][14] Tens of thousands of people marched to promote science in cities across the world, and Trump issued an Earth Day statement in which he did not mention climate change.[15][16] Scientists discovered that women who reside close to nature live longer than those who don’t, that injecting old mice with the blood of human babies improves their brain function, and that East African hairless mole rats can live without oxygen for 18 minutes.[17][18][19] Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly, who once attributed the rape and murder of a woman to the fact that she was “wearing a miniskirt and a halter top” and has said that the slaves who were forced to build the White House were “well-fed,” was fired from the network and given a $25 million severance package after it was reported that he had settled five sexual-harassment lawsuits since 2002 and had referred to an African-American colleague as “hot chocolate” and grunted at her when he walked past her desk.[20][21][22] Researchers in California announced that they had genetically modified a wasp to have “big beautiful red eyes.”[23]

A man in New York City filed a lawsuit against the dating app Grindr, alleging that fake accounts created in his name had brought 1,100 suitors to his home and workplace in the past six months. “It’s a living hell,” he said.[24] A professional tennis match in Florida was stopped because of loud moaning noises emanating from a nearby apartment, and a new law was passed in Michigan making it illegal for undercover police officers to have sex with prostitutes. “They’re certainly not trained in it,” said the bill’s sponsor.[25] A seven-year-old boy in China was injured after trying to jump from the tenth floor of a building while using an umbrella as a parachute, a 12-year-old boy was stopped in Australia after he had driven a car more than 800 miles in an attempt to cross the country, and a three-month-old baby in England was interviewed at the American Embassy in London after his grandfather mistakenly indicated on a visa-waiver form that the baby would be flying to Florida to participate in terrorist activities. “He has obviously never engaged in genocide,” said the infant’s mother.[26][27] [28] It was reported that a dentist in Alaska had removed a patient’s tooth while riding a hoverboard, and Russian officials posted a video demonstrating that a robot with the capacity to drive a car, weld, and use saws can now also shoot pistols with both of its hands. “We are not,” said the deputy prime minister, “creating a Terminator.”[29][30]

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Early in the morning on June 28, 1969, New York police raided the Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street, the city’s most popular gay bar. The police had raided Stonewall frequently since its opening two years before, but the local precinct usually tipped off the management and arrived in the early evening. This time they came unannounced, during peak hours. They swept through the bar, checking I.D.s and arresting anyone wearing attire that was not “appropriate to one’s gender,” carrying out the law of the time. Eyewitness accounts differ on what turned the unruly scene explosive. Whatever the inciting event, patrons and a growing crowd on the street began throwing coins, bottles, and bricks at the police, who were forced to retreat into the bar and call in the riot squad.

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The squat warehouse at Miami’s 5th Street Terminal was nearly obscured by merchandise: used car engines; tangles of coat hangers; bicycles bound together with cellophane; stacks of wheelbarrows; cases of Powerade and bottled water; a bag of sprouting onions atop a secondhand Whirlpool refrigerator; and, above all, mattresses—shrink-wrapped and bare, spotless and streaked with dust, heaped in every corner of the lot—twins, queens, kings. All this and more was bound for Port-de-Paix, a remote city in northwestern Haiti.

When I first arrived at the warehouse on a sunny morning last May, a dozen pickup trucks and U-Hauls were waiting outside, piled high with used furniture. Nearby, rows of vehicles awaiting export were crammed together along a dirt strip separating the street from the shipyard, where a stately blue cargo vessel was being loaded with goods.

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In 1989 I published a book about a plutonium-producing nuclear complex in En­gland, on the coast of the Irish Sea. The plant is called Sellafield now. In 1957, when it was the site of the most serious nuclear accident then known to have occurred, the plant was called Windscale. While working on the book, I learned from reports in the British press that in the course of normal functioning it released significant quantities of waste—plutonium and other transuranic elements—into the environment and the adjacent sea. There were reports of high cancer rates. The plant had always been wholly owned by the British government. I believe at some point the government bought it from itself. Privatization was very well thought of at the time, and no buyer could be found for this vast monument to dinosaur modernism.

Back then, I shared the American assumption that such things were dealt with responsibly, or at least rationally, at least in the West outside the United States. Windscale/Sellafield is by no means the anomaly I thought it was then. But the fact that a government entrusted with the well-being of a crowded island would visit this endless, silent disaster on its own people was striking to me, and I spent almost a decade trying to understand it. I learned immediately that the motives were economic. What of all this noxious efflux they did not spill they sold into a global market.

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My father decided that he would end his life by throwing himself from the top of the parking garage at the Nashville airport, which he later told me had seemed like the best combination of convenience—that is, he could get there easily and unnoticed—and sufficiency—that is, he was pretty sure it was tall enough to do the job. I never asked him which other venues he considered and rejected before settling on this plan. He probably did not actually use the word “best.” It was Mother’s Day, 2013.

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