Weekly Review — April 25, 2018, 6:40 pm

Weekly Review

A naked man kills four people at a Waffle House, a wildfire spreads across Oklahoma, and NASA launches a satellite to search for new planets

In a Waffle House parking lot in Nashville, Tennessee, a man who was described by a witness as “naked except for a jacket” exited his vehicle and began firing an assault rifle, killing four people and wounding at least seven.[1][2] Nashville’s mayor called for stricter gun-control laws, and Tennessee lawmakers voted to cut $250,000 from their budget for Memphis because the city removed Confederate monuments. “Bad actions,” said a state lawmaker, lead to “bad consequences.”[3][4] A three-judge panel stopped the Justice Department from withholding money from sanctuary cities, saying the department wrongly used “the sword of federal funding to conscript state and local authorities to aid in federal civil immigration enforcement”; the US Supreme Court said that a federal law allowing the government to deport noncitizens who are found guilty of committing a “crime of violence” was too vague; and it was reported that since October, more than 700 children at the US border have been separated from adults claiming to be their parents.[5][6][7] Kris Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state and the former head of the White House’s voter fraud commission, was held in contempt of court for not following an order to register voters.[8]

The Democratic National Committee filed suit against Russia, WikiLeaks, and US president Donald Trump, accusing the three parties of colluding with one another to help Trump win the 2016 election; former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani joined Trump’s legal team and said he hoped to end a special counsel investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia in “maybe a couple of weeks”; US attorney general Jeff Sessions reportedly told the White House that he would resign if Trump fired the deputy attorney general, who is overseeing the special counsel investigation; and declassified memos written by former FBI director James Comey, whom Trump fired, revealed that Trump believed one of his former national security advisers, who has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russia, had “judgment issues.”[9][10][11][12] South Korea said that upcoming talks with North Korea may lead to a formal peace treaty to end the Korean War; and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that his country will stop testing its nuclear weapons.[13][14] NASA launched a planet-hunting satellite.[15]

A fan blade in the engine of a Southwest Airlines plane broke off midflight and sliced open the cabin, killing one passenger.[16] Researchers announced that climate change caused the collapse of 29 percent of reefs off the coast of Australia.[17] A wildfire in Oklahoma spread to more than 283,000 acres of land and produced 70-foot flame walls.[18] A Washington, D.C., lawmaker who claimed that a rich Jewish family controlled the weather ignored a reporter’s question about why he ended his visit to the Holocaust museum early; and, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the German music industry’s award for best hip-hop album was given to a duo who have rapped about being “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners” and created a video in which a London banker creates evil in the world while wearing a Star of David.[19][20] It was reported that bull sharks are mating closer to the shore.[21]

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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.

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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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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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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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