Weekly Review — March 28, 2018, 2:11 pm

Weekly Review

More than a million Americans marched in protest of the country’s lax gun-control laws,   Trump appointed John Bolton as his third national security adviser, and a pothole patching machine was unveiled in Rome

At least 1.2 million people across the United States marched in the streets to protest the country’s lax gun-control laws.[1] A former US senator suggested that participants in the protests, which were led by a group of students from a high school in Florida where 17 people were recently killed by a 19-year-old armed with an AR-15 rifle, should not look to “someone else to solve their problems” and should instead take “CPR classes.”[2][3][4][5] US president Donald Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy who was living in England, and adult-film star Stormy Daniels claimed that she accepted $130,000 to keep silent about a sexual relationship with Trump because she was told to “forget the story” by an unidentified man who walked up to her and her infant daughter in a Las Vegas parking lot.[6][7]

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad appeared in a video wearing sunglasses and driving a silver Hyundai into Eastern Ghouta, where his government killed almost 1,500 civilians last month, to congratulate his forces for their victory.[8][9] The United States launched its first-ever strike against Al Qaeda militants in southern Libya, and Trump appointed John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations who supports preemptive attacks on North Korea and Iran and who once said that if the UN building in Manhattan “lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of a difference,” as his third national security adviser.[10][11]

The first nonstop flight from Australia to the United Kingdom was completed in about 17 hours and transported more than 21,000 individual items, including 330 peppermint tea bags and hundreds of chocolate biscuits; and more than 100 passengers traveling to Lisbon were left stranded in Germany after their flight’s copilot was found drunk.[12][13] English soccer fans in Amsterdam hurled pints of beer at a group of tourists who sailed under a bridge; police in Wisconsin began their hunt for a woman who attacked a McDonald’s employee after being served the wrong breakfast sandwich; and a man dressed in a bull onesie was arrested for attempting to burn down his ex-lover’s house by leaving a pot of pasta sauce on the stove.[14][15][16] Orange snow, a mixture of sand, snow, and rain, was spotted in parts of Eastern Europe, and a “pothole patching machine” was unveiled in Rome to fill 150 potholes a day.[17][18]

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In 1989 I published a book about a plutonium-producing nuclear complex in En­gland, on the coast of the Irish Sea. The plant is called Sellafield now. In 1957, when it was the site of the most serious nuclear accident then known to have occurred, the plant was called Windscale. While working on the book, I learned from reports in the British press that in the course of normal functioning it released significant quantities of waste—plutonium and other transuranic elements—into the environment and the adjacent sea. There were reports of high cancer rates. The plant had always been wholly owned by the British government. I believe at some point the government bought it from itself. Privatization was very well thought of at the time, and no buyer could be found for this vast monument to dinosaur modernism.

Back then, I shared the American assumption that such things were dealt with responsibly, or at least rationally, at least in the West outside the United States. Windscale/Sellafield is by no means the anomaly I thought it was then. But the fact that a government entrusted with the well-being of a crowded island would visit this endless, silent disaster on its own people was striking to me, and I spent almost a decade trying to understand it. I learned immediately that the motives were economic. What of all this noxious efflux they did not spill they sold into a global market.

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Last fall, a court filing in the Eastern District of Virginia inadvertently suggested that the Justice Department had indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and other outlets reported soon after that Assange had likely been secretly indicted for conspiring with his sources to publish classified government material and hacked documents belonging to the Democratic National Committee, among other things.

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Early in the morning on June 28, 1969, New York police raided the Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street, the city’s most popular gay bar. The police had raided Stonewall frequently since its opening two years before, but the local precinct usually tipped off the management and arrived in the early evening. This time they came unannounced, during peak hours. They swept through the bar, checking I.D.s and arresting anyone wearing attire that was not “appropriate to one’s gender,” carrying out the law of the time. Eyewitness accounts differ on what turned the unruly scene explosive. Whatever the inciting event, patrons and a growing crowd on the street began throwing coins, bottles, and bricks at the police, who were forced to retreat into the bar and call in the riot squad.

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Downstream·

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The squat warehouse at Miami’s 5th Street Terminal was nearly obscured by merchandise: used car engines; tangles of coat hangers; bicycles bound together with cellophane; stacks of wheelbarrows; cases of Powerade and bottled water; a bag of sprouting onions atop a secondhand Whirlpool refrigerator; and, above all, mattresses—shrink-wrapped and bare, spotless and streaked with dust, heaped in every corner of the lot—twins, queens, kings. All this and more was bound for Port-de-Paix, a remote city in northwestern Haiti.

When I first arrived at the warehouse on a sunny morning last May, a dozen pickup trucks and U-Hauls were waiting outside, piled high with used furniture. Nearby, rows of vehicles awaiting export were crammed together along a dirt strip separating the street from the shipyard, where a stately blue cargo vessel was being loaded with goods.

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Warm, Weird, Effervescent·

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In Lore Segal’s short story “The Reverse Bug,” a teacher named Ilka Weisz invites her conversational En­glish class to a panel at a Connecticut think tank: “?‘Should there be a statute of limitations on genocide?’ with a wine and cheese reception.” The class is made up of immigrants to the United States. Although Segal doesn’t give a date, we are to understand that most came several decades earlier as a result of World War II: Gerti Gruner, who recently arrived in the United States from Vienna, by way of Montevideo, and can’t stop talking about her lost cousins; the moody Paulino from La Paz, whose father disappeared in the American Consulate; and the mysterious Japanese Matsue, who tells them that he worked in a Munich firm “employed in soundproofing the Dachau ovens so that what went on inside could not be heard on the outside.” He’s since been working at the think tank on a “reverse bug,” a technological device that brings sound from the outside in. The class takes advantage of his poor En­glish to ignore what he is saying.

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