Weekly Review — October 1, 2017, 6:44 pm

Weekly Review

Trump tweets a storm

Weeks after a Category 4 hurricane made landfall in Puerto Rico, it was reported that 95 percent of residents on the island were without power, 35 percent of grocery stores were closed, 50 percent of roads needed to be cleared of debris, 86 percent of cellphone towers were not functioning, and 25 percent of shipping ports were closed. “We will get through this TOGETHER,” tweeted U.S. president Donald Trump, who then referred to Puerto Rican officials as “politically motivated ingrates” told by “the Democrats” to say “nasty” things.[1][2][3][4] “They want everything to be done for them,” tweeted Trump, who has spent a fourth of his presidency visiting his private clubs at a cost to taxpayers of at least $70 million.[5][6] Trump said he was “working night and day” to help Puerto Rico, and then handed out a trophy at a New Jersey golf course, which he arrived at after visiting a different New Jersey golf course.[7][8][9] Trump, whose Trump International Golf Club in Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy in 2015, tweeted that it “must be dealt with” that Puerto Rico “owed” billions of dollars “to Wall Street and banks,” and it was reported that Trump’s proposed cuts to the corporate tax rate would give the six largest U.S. banks a $6.4 billion increase in profits.[10][11][12] The mayor of San Juan said that Puerto Rico was “dying” and that “something close to a genocide” would occur if federal assistance didn’t increase, a U.S. general toured the island and said it was “the worst” storm damage he’d “ever seen,” it was reported that the percentage of Puerto Ricans without drinking water increased to 55, and Trump announced that Puerto Rico was “getting better on a daily basis.”[13][14][15][16] Trump told reporters “the results that we’ve had with respect to loss of life” were “incredible,” and it was reported that at least 16 people had been killed by the storm.[17][18] The mayor of San Juan said Trump was “killing” Puerto Ricans with “inefficiency,” and Trump explained that Puerto Rico was an island surrounded by “big water.”[19][20] Trump tweeted that the mayor of San Juan was showing “poor leadership”; that fans who booed football players for protesting the police killings of unarmed black men and women were showing “great anger”; that Iran had launched a ballistic missile “capable of reaching Israel,” which the country had not done; and that the secretary of state was “wasting his time” attempting to pursue talks with the government of North Korea, whom Trump has threatened to “totally destroy.” The White House clarified that Trump had not declared war on North Korea.[21][22][23][24][25][26]

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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.

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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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America in the Middle East: learning curves are for pussies.
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