Weekly Review — June 6, 2018, 1:13 pm

Weekly Review

A volcano erupts in Guatemala, Trump says he is allowed to pardon himself, and scientists identify the oldest known lizard species

A 12,346-foot volcano erupted in Guatemala, covering houses with ash and molten rock, and killing at least 38 people.[1] North Korea’s state-run news agency reported that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, who has been accused of using chemical weapons on civilians, planned to visit North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who has been accused of torturing political opponents.[2][3] US president Donald Trump met with a reality television star to discuss prison reform, pardoned an author and filmmaker who pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign-finance laws in 2014, and said he would consider pardoning a businesswoman and reality television star who was found guilty of obstruction and making false statements and was once described by Trump as his “biggest fan.”[4][5][6] Trump, whose 2016 presidential campaign is currently under investigation for possible collusion with the Russian government, tweeted that he had “the absolute right to pardon” himself but wouldn’t do so, since he had “done nothing wrong.”[7]

A 20-year-old Palestinian paramedic was shot and killed by Israeli forces when she ran to help an injured protester in Gaza, and Indian paramilitary forces in Kashmir ran over a protester with a truck, killing him.[8][9][10] Off the coasts of Turkey and Tunisia, at least 46 migrants drowned after their boat sank, and it was reported that almost 700,000 Rohingya in the world’s largest refugee camp, in Bangladesh, were living in the path of an oncoming monsoon.[11][12] The governments of Israel and Myanmar signed an “education agreement” that would allow each country to “mutually verify” how its history is taught by the other, and the United Nations published its first “educational guidelines” on fighting anti-Semitism.[13][14] In Jordan, the prime minister was forced to resign after mass protests against rising inflation and the government’s proposed tax increases, and in Slovenia an anti-immigration, nationalist party emerged with the most votes after the parliamentary elections.[15][16] In the United States, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to create a custom wedding cake for a gay couple, and in a bar in Denver an off-duty FBI agent accidentally shot a man in the leg while performing a handstand.[17][18]

In the state of Kerala in south India, the Nipah virus, a brain-damaging pathogen for which there is no vaccine or cure, killed 17 people, and in the United States it was confirmed that five people had died from an E. coli infection spread by romaine lettuce.[19][20] Scientists said that they had identified the oldest known species of lizard, which lived in what is now the Italian Alps at least 240 million years ago.[21] In Idaho, a high school science teacher was charged with animal cruelty for feeding a sick puppy to a snapping turtle as part of a demonstration to his students.[22] The German automaker Volkswagen announced that it would no longer use animals for testing the effects of diesel exhaust.[23] A report revealed that more than 300 whales, 122 of which were pregnant, were killed by Japan off the coast of Antarctica during the country’s annual summer hunt.[24] In the Australian state of New South Wales, surgical masks and sanitary pads were found washing up on beaches, and in southern Thailand, a whale that was rescued from a canal eventually died from swallowing 80 plastic bags. “If you have 80 plastic bags in your stomach, you die,” a marine biologist said.[25][26]

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More from Niya Shahdad:

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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

Weekly Review March 13, 2018, 6:29 pm

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Rex Tillerson gets fired, Stormy Daniels sues Donald Trump, and the world’s last male northern white rhino battles a life-threatening illness

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The city was not beautiful; no one made that claim for it. At the height of summer, people in suits, shellacked by the sun, moved like harassed insects to avoid the concentrated light. There was a civil war–like fracture in America—the president had said so—but little of it showed in the capital. Everyone was polite and smooth in their exchanges. The corridor between Dupont Circle and Georgetown was like the dream of Yugoslav planners: long blocks of uniform earth-toned buildings that made the classical edifices of the Hill seem the residue of ancestors straining for pedigree. Bunting, starched and perfectly ruffled in red-white-and-blue fans, hung everywhere—from air conditioners, from gutters, from statues of dead revolutionaries. Coming from Berlin, where the manual laborers are white, I felt as though I was entering the heart of a caste civilization. Untouchables in hard hats drilled into sidewalks, carried pylons, and ate lunch from metal boxes, while waiters in restaurants complimented old respectable bobbing heads on how well they were progressing with their rib eyes and iceberg wedges.

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The second-worst thing about cancer chairs is that they are attached to televisions. Someone somewhere is always at war with silence. It’s impossible to read, so I answer email, or watch some cop drama on my computer, or, if it seems unavoidable, explore the lives of my nurses. A trip to Cozumel with old girlfriends, a costume party with political overtones, an advanced degree on the internet: they’re all the same, these lives, which is to say that the nurses tell me nothing, perhaps because amid the din and pain it’s impossible to say anything of substance, or perhaps because they know that nothing is precisely what we both expect. It’s the very currency of the place. Perhaps they are being excruciatingly candid.

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When Demétrio Martins was ready to preach, he pushed a joystick that angled the seat of his wheelchair forward, slowly lifting him to a standing position. Restraints held his body upright. His atrophied right arm lay on an armrest, and with his left hand, he put a microphone to his lips. “Proverbs, chapter fourteen, verse twelve,” he said. “ ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is . . .’ ”

The congregation finished: “ ‘Death.’ ”

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On December 7, 2016, a drone departed from an Amazon warehouse in the United Kingdom, ascended to an altitude of four hundred feet, and flew to a nearby farm. There it glided down to the front lawn and released from its clutches a small box containing an Amazon streaming device and a bag of popcorn. This was the first successful flight of Prime Air, Amazon’s drone delivery program. If instituted as a regular service, it would slash the costs of “last-mile delivery,” the shortest and most expensive leg of a package’s journey from warehouse to doorstep. Drones don’t get into fender benders, don’t hit rush-hour traffic, and don’t need humans to accompany them, all of which, Amazon says, could enable it to offer thirty-minute delivery for up to 90 percent of domestic shipments while also reducing carbon emissions. After years of testing, Amazon wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration last summer to ask for permission to conduct limited commercial deliveries with its drones, attaching this diagram to show how the system would work. (Amazon insisted that we note that the diagram is not to scale.) Amazon is not the only company working toward such an automated future—­UPS, FedEx, Uber, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have similar programs—­but its plans offer the most detailed vision of what seems to be an impending reality, one in which parce­l-toting drones are a constant presence in the sky, doing much more than just delivering popcorn.

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Every year in Lusk, Wyoming, during the second week of July, locals gather to reenact a day in 1849 when members of a nearby band of Sioux are said to have skinned a white man alive. None of the actors are Native American. The white participants dress up like Indians and redden their skin with body paint made from iron ore.

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At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

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