Weekly Review — November 16, 2017, 3:39 pm

Weekly Review

Pros and cons

Roy Moore, a 70-year-old lawyer and Republican candidate for the US Senate who once accidentally stabbed himself with a murder weapon while prosecuting a case in an Alabama courtroom, was accused of having sexually assaulted two women, Leigh Corfman and Beverly Young Nelson, while he was an assistant district attorney in his thirties and they were 14 and 16 years old, respectively.[1][2][3][4] Moore denied knowing Nelson, and Nelson showed reporters a copy of her high-school yearbook, which Moore had purportedly signed.[5] Moore said he did not “generally” date teenage girls, and it was reported that in the 1970s Moore had been banned from his local mall and YMCA for bothering teenage girls.[6][7] Moore’s wife published a letter of support signed by more than 50 pastors, and four of those pastors said they either had never seen the letter or had seen it before Moore was accused of sexual assault and asked to have their names removed.[8] A senator from Indiana said Moore’s “grossly reprehensible behavior disqualifies him from service,” a Pennsylvania state representative voted to place video gambling machines in truck stops and then resigned his seat in advance of being sentenced by a judge for his participation in an illegal gambling ring, a former mayor in New Jersey wept as he was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to have city employees renovate a wholesale liquor-distribution facility owned by his nephew and daughter, a judge in New Jersey declared a mistrial in the case of a US senator who was charged with accepting private-jet flights and $750,000 in campaign contributions from a Florida eye doctor in exchange for helping the doctor secure visas for three of his girlfriends, a state representative in Florida resigned her office and pleaded guilty to perjury for lying about the district in which she lived on her voter-registration form, the budget chairman of Florida’s state senate was accused of groping and sexually harassing six capitol employees, a former state representative in Florida was ordered to forfeit the $63,000 in campaign contributions he was convicted of using to pay for his wedding and meals at McDonald’s, a Florida judge delayed the sentencing of a US congresswoman convicted of soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from her supporters to a fake charity in Virginia, a US representative from Virginia said she knew of a congressman who had exposed his penis to a female aide when the aide delivered work materials to his house, a 53-year-old former US congressman from New York reported to a federal prison in Massachusetts to begin serving a 21-month sentence for messaging photos of his penis to a 15-year-old girl, a state senator in Minnesota was accused of sending a photograph of a penis to women on Snapchat, a US senator from Minnesota was accused of forcibly kissing a woman and groping her breasts while she was sleeping, a US representative from California said she was aware of a sitting Republican and a sitting Democrat who had committed sexual misconduct while in office, former US president George H. W. Bush was accused of groping the buttocks of a 16-year-old girl during a photo shoot, and current US president Donald Trump, who when he was 46 years old was filmed saying of a 10-year-old girl with whom he was riding on an escalator that he would be “dating her in ten years,” nominated for a federal judgeship a 36-year-old lawyer and horror novelist who has never tried a case, and who spent a year working at a paranormal-activity research group helping people who are haunted by ghosts.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29]

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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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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

Value of loose change left at TSA checkpoints in 2010:

$409,085.56

Eighty percent of those displaced by climate change have been women, whose voices have been getting deeper.

In Wichita Falls, Texas, a woman was banned from Walmart after drinking wine from a Pringles can while riding an electric shopping cart; she had been riding the cart for two and a half hours.

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