Weekly Review — July 6, 2017, 11:31 am

Weekly Review

Men in Florida, Ohio, and D.C. get into trouble…

An Arizona man wearing a bullet-proof vest shot a police officer with a bow and arrow; an Oklahoma man who in 2004 told the Secret Service that Satan made him drive his car into a monument to the Ten Commandments drove to Arkansas and crashed his car into another monument to the Ten Commandments; a Florida man impersonating a police officer was arrested for pulling over a police officer; the residents of a town in Kentucky reportedly elected a pit bull as their mayor; a Maryland man arrested for robbing a convenience store was released from jail and then arrested again for attempting to rob the same store; a Michigan man set his garage on fire while attempting to blow up a nest of bees with fireworks; a Minnesota man attempted to avoid being arrested on a drug charge by giving the officer a Get Out of Jail Free Monopoly card; a man in Missouri kidnapped his sister to prevent her from marrying; an unemployed Michigan salesman, who in 2003 became the first person to survive an unprotected jump off of Niagara Falls during a suicide attempt and then became a daredevil, jumped off of Niagara Falls with a seven-foot snake, and died; a man in New York ate 72 hotdogs in ten minutes; a North Carolina man forced a family at gunpoint to shop at Target; an Ohio man removed his prosthetic leg and hit his wife in the head with it; a shirtless Washington man walking down a highway dragging a dead raccoon tied to a rope was shot twice in the leg by a passing motorist who mistook the animal for a dead dog; a West Virginia man broke into a house, ransacked it, fell asleep in the owner’s bed, and was awoken by police; and a Washington, D.C. man who formerly sold vodka and ran a teen beauty pageant before being elected president of the United States did not respond publicly to reports that he hung a fake Time magazine cover featuring a portrait of himself in at least four of his golf courses, tweeted that a talk-show host who called his hands small was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” and that another host was a “psycho,” banned the press from attending a fundraiser he threw for himself at his own hotel, threatened during the fundraiser to sue CNN, promised during another speech not to call CNN “fake news” provided they continue to film him, tweeted incorrectly that CNN’s ratings were down, and then tweeted a video of himself at WrestleMania XXIII body slamming, mounting, and punching another man, whose face in the footage had been overlaid with the logo for CNN by a Reddit user named HanAssholeSolo, who has previously written about putting a cat in a blender, bringing punch blades to Paris in case he needed to hit “Islamic fucks,” and calculating the number of “shitloads” in a “fuck ton,” which he claimed was 4,000,000,000,000.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

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What China Threat?·

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Within about fifteen years, China’s economy will surpass America’s and become the largest in the world. As this moment approaches, meanwhile, a consensus has formed in Washington that China poses a significant threat to American interests and well-­being. General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), has said that “China probably poses the greatest threat to our nation by about 2025.” The summary of America’s 2018 National Defense Strategy claims that China and Russia are “revisionist powers” seeking to “shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model—gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.” Christopher Wray, the FBI director, has said, “One of the things we’re trying to do is view the China threat as not just a whole-­of-­government threat, but a whole-­of-­society threat . . . and I think it’s going to take a whole-­of-­society response by us.” So widespread is this notion that when Donald Trump launched his trade war against China, in January 2018, he received support even from moderate figures such as Democratic senator Chuck Schumer.

Shanghai Broadcasting Building, by Cui Jie (detail) © The artist. Courtesy private collection
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Without a Trace·

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In December 2015, a twenty-­two-year-­old man named Masood Hotak left his home in Kabul, Afghanistan, and set out for Europe. For several weeks, he made his way through the mountains of Iran and the rolling plateaus of Turkey. When he reached the city of Izmir, on the Turkish coast, Masood sent a text message to his elder brother Javed, saying he was preparing to board a boat to Greece. Since the start of the journey, Javed, who was living in England, had been keeping tabs on his younger brother’s progress. As Masood got closer to the sea, Javed had felt increasingly anxious. Winter weather on the Aegean was unpredictable, and the ramshackle crafts used by the smugglers often sank. Javed had even suggested Masood take the longer, overland route, through Bulgaria, but his brother had dismissed the plan as excessively cautious.

Finally, on January 3, 2016, to Javed’s immense relief, Masood sent a series of celebratory Facebook messages announcing his arrival in Europe. “I reached Greece bro,” he wrote. “Safe. Even my shoes didn’t get wet.” Masood reported that his boat had come ashore on the island of Samos. In a few days, he planned to take a ferry to the Greek mainland, after which he would proceed across the European continent to Germany.

But then, silence. Masood stopped writing. At first, Javed was unworried. His brother, he assumed, was in the island’s detention facility, waiting to be sent to Athens with hundreds of other migrants. Days turned into weeks. Every time Javed tried Masood’s phone, the call went straight to voicemail. After a month passed with no word, it dawned on Javed that his brother was missing.

A screenshot of a December 2015 Facebook post by Masood Hotak (left), in Istanbul
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Going to Extremes·

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When Philip Benight awoke on January 26, 2017, he saw a bright glow. “Son of a bitch, there is a light,” he thought. He hoped it meant he had died. His mind turned to his wife, Becky: “Where are you?” he thought. “We have to go to the light.” He hoped Becky had died, too. Then he lost consciousness. When he opened his eyes again, Philip realized he wasn’t seeing heaven but overhead fluorescents at Lancaster General Hospital. He was on a hospital bed, with his arms restrained and a tube down his throat, surrounded by staff telling him to relax. He passed out again. The next time he came to, his arms and legs were free, but a drugged heaviness made it hard to move. A nurse told him that his wife was at another hospital—“for her safety”—even though she was also at Lancaster General. Soon after, two police officers arrived. They wanted to know why Becky was in a coma.

Three days earlier, Philip, who was sixty, tall and lanky, with owlish glasses and mustache, had picked up his wife from an HCR ­ManorCare nursing home. Becky had been admitted to the facility recently at the age of seventy-­two after yet another series of strokes. They drove to Darrenkamp’s grocery store and Philip bought their dinner, a special turkey sandwich for Becky, with the meat shaved extra thin. They ate in the car. Then, like every other night, they got ice cream from Burger King and drove to their home in Conestoga, a sparse hamlet in southern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Philip parked in the driveway, and they sat in the car looking out at the fields that roll down to the Susquehanna River.

They listened to the radio until there was nothing more to do. Philip went into the house and retrieved a container of Kraft vanilla pudding, which he’d mixed with all the drugs he could find in the house—Valium, Klonopin, Percocet, and so on. He opened the passenger-­side door and knelt beside Becky. He held a spoon, and she guided it to her mouth. When Becky had eaten all the pudding, he got back into the driver’s seat and swallowed a handful of pills. Philip asked her how the pudding tasted. “Like freedom,” she said. As they lost consciousness, the winter chill seeped into their clothes and skin.

Illustration by Leigh Wells (detail)
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America in the Middle East: learning curves are for pussies.
—Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, June 2, 2015

In January 2017, following Donald Trump’s inauguration, his national security staffers entered their White House offices for the first time. One told me that when he searched for the previous administration’s Middle East policy files, the cupboard was bare. “There wasn’t an overarching strategy document for anywhere in the Middle East,” the senior official, who insisted on anonymity, told me in a coffee shop near the White House. “Not even on the ISIS campaign, so there wasn’t a cross-governmental game plan.”

Syrian Arab Red Crescent vehicles in eastern Ghouta, March 24, 2018 (detail) © Anas Alkharboutli/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Chances that a black American adult attended Martin Luther King’s March on Washington in 1963:

1 in 60

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The 70th governor of Ohio was sworn in on nine Bibles, which were held by his wife.

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