Weekly Review — June 19, 2018, 10:17 am

Weekly Review

Donald Trump admires North Korean state TV, the Supreme Court upholds Ohio’s ability to purge voters from its rolls, a woman sues NASA to keep her moondust

After stating that he did not need to prepare much for a meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore, US president Donald Trump showed the North Korean leader a fake trailer depicting what his country would look like if it reentered the international community.[1][2] “I think he loved it,” said Trump, who reportedly adored North Korea’s state-run TV service.[3] He also told Kim that his country could have “the best hotels in the world” and announced that he would suspend US military drills in South Korea, but did not notify South Korea.[4][5] Kim brought his own toilet to the summit.[6]

The Department of Justice said in a report that a top FBI agent investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election had texted another agent that “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president, and that former FBI director James Comey had mishandled the probe into Hillary Clinton’s email server and used his personal email for FBI business.[7][8][9] Paul Manafort’s bail was revoked, and the Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s ability to purge voters from its rolls.[10][11] In Nevada, a legal pimp won the Republican primary for the state Legislature.[12]

Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the “wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government,” a passage that was often used to defend slavery in the 1850s, to justify separating immigrant children from their parents and the zero tolerance policy for those who illegally cross the US-Mexico border, including asylum seekers.[13] An executive of Casa Padre, a nonprofit detention center inside a former Walmart in Texas, told journalists, “You might want to smile. The kids feel a little like animals in a cage, being looked at.”[14] The shelter holds nearly 1,500 children, and has a mural of Donald Trump with a quote, in English and Spanish, from his 1987 book The Art of the Deal. Alphonso Davies, a 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps FC soccer player whose parents are Liberian refugees, stated, “The people of North America have always welcomed me. If given the opportunity, I know they will welcome you” during the final bid that won the United States, Mexico, and Canada joint hosting duties for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.[15] Animals are becoming increasingly nocturnal because of human activity.[16]

AT&T purchased Time Warner for $85.4 billion; Comcast bid $65 billion “all cash” to acquire 21st Century Fox, which Disney is also trying to acquire.[17][18] An electric scooter startup is seeking funding at a $2 billion valuation, Tesla eliminated 9 percent of its workforce, and Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO of the blood-testing startup Theranos, was indicted on federal fraud charges.[19][20][21] It was reported that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made at least $82 million in income outside their positions in the White House and that EPA chief Scott Pruitt had an aide help secure his wife a job at a conservative group after failing to get her a Chick-fil-A franchise.[22][23] A woman is preemptively suing NASA to keep a vial of moondust that Neil Armstrong gave her; a dust storm the size of North America may have broken a NASA probe; and researchers found the source of microwave light emanating across the Milky Way may be hydrogenated nanodiamonds.[24][25][26] Archaeologists think they have found the head of Jezebel’s husband.[27] Czech president Miloš Zeman announced a press conference, gathered reporters, and then had two firefighters burn a massive pair of red underpants in front of them. “I’m sorry to make you look like little idiots,” he said.[28]

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On a sunny July day in 2018, Alexis Stern was sitting behind the wheel of the red Ford Fusion her parents had given her the previous year when she’d learned to drive. Robbie Olsen, the boy she’d recently started dating, was in the passenger seat. They were in the kind of high spirits unique to teenagers on summer vacation with nothing much to do and nowhere in particular to go. They were about to take a drive, maybe get some food, when Stern’s phone buzzed. It was the police. An officer with the local department told her to come down to the station immediately. She had no idea what the cops might want with her. “I was like, am I going to get arrested?” she said.

Stern had graduated from high school the month before, in Big Lake, Minnesota, a former resort town turned exurb, forty miles northwest of the Twin Cities. So far she had spent the summer visiting family, hanging out with her new boyfriend, and writing what she describes as “action-packed and brutal sci-fi fantasy fiction.” At sixteen, she’d self-published her first novel, Inner Monster, about a secret agent named Justin Redfield whose mind has been invaded by a malevolent alter ego that puts the lives of his loved ones at risk. “It isn’t until his inner demon returns that he realizes how much trouble he really is in,” the synopsis reads. “Facing issues with his girlfriend and attempting to gain control of his dark side, the tension intensifies. Being the best agent comes at a price, a price of kidnapping, torture and even death.

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I had been in Domoni—an ancient, ramshackle trading town on the volcanic island of Anjouan—for only a few summer days in 2018 when Onzardine Attoumane, a local English teacher, offered to show me around the medina. Already I had gotten lost several times trying to navigate the dozens of narrow, seemingly indistinguishable alleyways that zigzagged around the old town’s crumbling, lava-rock homes. But Onzardine had grown up in Domoni and was intimately familiar with its contours.

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This is what I feared, that she would speak about the news . . . about how her father always said that the news exists so it can disappear, this is the point of news, whatever story, wherever it is happening. We depend on the news to disappear . . .
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On the evening of May 8, just after eight o’clock, Kate Valk stepped onstage and faced the audience. The little playhouse was packed with hardcore fans, theater people and artists, but Kate was performing, most of all, for one person, hidden among them, a small, fine-boned, black-clad woman, her blond-gray hair up in a clip, who smiled, laughed, and nodded along with every word, swaying to the music and mirroring the emotions of the performers while whispering into the ear of the tall, bearded fellow who sat beside her madly scribbling notes. The woman was Elizabeth LeCompte—known to all as Liz—the director of the Wooster Group, watching the first open performance of the company’s new piece, Since I Can Remember.

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In the spring of 2018, Tequila Johnson, an African-American administrator at Tennessee State University, led a mass voter-registration drive organized by a coalition of activist groups called the Tennessee Black Voter Project. Turnout in Tennessee regularly ranks near the bottom among U.S. states, just ahead of Texas. At the time, only 65 percent of the state’s voting-age population was registered to vote, the shortfall largely among black and low-income citizens. “The African-American community has been shut out of the process, and voter suppression has really widened that gap,” Johnson told me. “I felt I had to do something.”

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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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