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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More from Sharon J. Riley:

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It has become something of a commonplace to say that Mike Pence belongs to another era. He is a politician whom the New York Times has called a “throwback,” a “conservative proudly out of sync with his times,” and a “dangerous anachronism,” a man whose social policies and outspoken Christian faith are so redolent of the previous century’s culture wars that he appeared to have no future until, in the words of one journalist, he was plucked “off the political garbage heap” by Donald Trump and given new life. Pence’s rise to the vice presidency was not merely a personal advancement; it marked the return of religion and ideology to American politics at a time when the titles of political analyses were proclaiming the Twilight of Social Conservatism (2015) and the End of White Christian America (2016). It revealed the furious persistence of the religious right, an entity whose final demise was for so long considered imminent that even as white evangelicals came out in droves to support the Trump-Pence ticket, their enthusiasm was dismissed, in the Washington Post, as the movement’s “last spastic breath.”

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Just after dawn in Lhamo, a small town on the northeastern corner of the Tibetan Plateau, horns summon the monks of Serti Monastery to prayer. Juniper incense smolders in the temple’s courtyard as monks begin arriving in huddled groups. Some walk the kora, a clockwise circumambulation around the building. Others hustle toward the main door, which sits just inside a porch decorated in bright thangka paintings. A pile of fur boots accumulates outside. When the last monks have arrived, the horn blowers leaning out of the second-floor windows retire indoors.

When I visited Lhamo in 2015, most monks at Serti attended the morning prayers, but not Ngawang Chötar, the vice president of the monastery’s management committee, or siguanhui. Instead, he could usually be found doing business somewhere on Lhamo’s main street. Like all Tibetan monks, he sports a buzz cut, and his gait, weighed down by dark crimson robes, resembles a penguin’s shuffle. When he forgets the password to his account on WeChat, China’s popular messaging service—a frequent occurrence—he waits for the town’s cell phone repairman at his favorite restaurant, piling the shells of sunflower seeds into a tidy mound.

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As he approached his death in 1987, the photographer Peter Hujar was all but unknown, with a murky reputation and a tiny, if elite, cult following. Slowly circling down what was then the hopeless spiral of ­AIDS, Peter had ceaselessly debated one decision, which he reached only with difficulty, and only when the end drew near. He was in a hospital bed when he made his will that summer, naming me the executor of his entire artistic estate—and also its sole owner.

The move transformed my life and induced a seething fury in lots of decent people. I can see why. Peter did not make me his heir for any of the usual reasons. I was a good and trusted friend, but he had scads of those. I was not the first person he considered for the job, nor was I the most qualified. In fact, I was a rank amateur, and my understanding of his art was limited. I knew his photographs were stunning, often upsetting, unpredictably beautiful, distinctively his. I also knew they were under­rated and neglected. But I did not then really grasp his achievement.

Photograph by Peter Hujar
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The friendly waitress at the Pretty Prairie Steak House delivers tumblers of tap water as soon as diners take their seats. Across Main Street, the Wagon Wheel Café offers the same courtesy. Customers may also order coffee or iced tea, but it all starts at the same tap, and everyone is fine with that. This blasé attitude about drinking water surprised me: everyone in this little farm town in Reno County, Kansas, knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that the liquid flowing from the municipal water tower was highly contaminated with nitrate, a chemical compound derived from fertilizer and connected to thyroid problems and various cancers. At the time I visited Pretty Prairie, last fall, nitrate levels there were more than double the federal standard for safe drinking water.

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The truth—that thing I thought I was telling.—John Ashbery To start with the facts: the chapter in my book White Sands called “Pilgrimage” is about a visit to the house where the philosopher Theodor Adorno lived in Los Angeles during the Second World War. It takes its title from the story of that name by Susan Sontag (recently republished in Debriefing: Collected Stories) about a visit she and her friend Merrill made to the house of Adorno’s fellow German exile Thomas Mann in the Pacific Palisades, in 1947, when she was fourteen. It seemed strange that the story was originally …
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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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