Weekly Review — August 22, 2017, 11:59 am

Weekly Review

Nighttime befalls the United States

The moon passed in front of the sun, casting a shadow over the United States.[1] A police helicopter in Virginia fell from the sky, a U.S. destroyer collided with an oil tanker, discussions in the White House of launching a “preemptive war” against North Korea increased, and hundreds of white supremacists and neo-Nazis armed with assault rifles and clubs held a nighttime march in Charlottesville, Virginia, gathering with torches around a statue of slave-owner and Confederate general Robert E. Lee and chanting that they will not be replaced by Jewish people.[2][3][4][5][6] Members of the group, which included the Ku Klux Klan, waved Confederate and Nazi flags outside an interfaith church service and beat and broke the wrist of a black man in a parking garage.[7][8] U.S. president Donald Trump, who has called for the execution of a group of five people of color wrongly convicted of sexual assault, said he wanted to have “the facts” before condemning by name the neo-Nazis and K.K.K. members at the rally or making any judgements about the political affiliations of a white man who killed a woman when he drove his car into a crowd of people protesting white supremacy; and then Trump tweeted that it was a “terrorist” attack when a vehicle was driven into a crowd in Barcelona by a man believed to be associated with the Islamic State, and that his supporters should “study” an apocryphal story of a general who fought “Islamic terror” by executing Muslims with bullets dipped in the blood of pigs.[9][10][11][12][13] Trump, whose response to Charlottesville was praised by former K.K.K. leader David Duke and referred to on a popular white-supremacist website as “really good,” defended as “beautiful” the Confederate statues erected during the Jim Crow era as a response to the civil rights movement, said there were “very fine people” marching alongside the K.K.K. and neo-Nazis, bragged about a winery he owns in Charlottesville, and referred to anti-racist protesters in Boston as “anti-police agitators.”[14][15][16][17][18] A police union in New York City condemned “blue racism” against police officers, and white-supremacist leader Richard Spencer, who claims to have mentored Trump’s political advisor Stephen Miller, vowed to hold more rallies.[19][20][21] Republican strategists wept on live television, a college student photographed holding a torch at the rally said he was not racist, and a white supremacist published a video of himself crying after he found out that police had issued warrants for his arrest following his appearance in a documentary of the rally, where he told a reporter that more people would die “before we’re done.”[22][23][24] Trump’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, which his wife chairs, resigned, and Trump was forced to disband his business and manufacturing councils as members began resigning.[25][26][27] Stephen Bannon resigned as Trump’s chief strategist, announced that the Trump presidency was “over” and that he was “jacked up” and had his “hands back on” his “weapons,” and began calling himself “Stephen the Barbarian.”[28] Pro-Trump events were canceled in 36 states; Baltimore and Austin removed Confederate statues in the middle of the night; Juggalos announced they would march on Washington, D.C.; the director of the Secret Service said the agency has run out of money to protect Trump; and, during the solar eclipse, Trump stood on the balcony of the White House and looked directly into the sun, despite warnings that he was blinding himself. “Don’t,” said an aide.[29][30][31][32][33][34]

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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.

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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.

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