Weekly Review — July 3, 2018, 11:09 am

Weekly Review

Justice Anthony Kennedy announces his retirement, AMLO wins in Mexico, and Ivanka Trump copresents a report denouncing family separation

Three days after US president Donald Trump called journalists “the enemy of the people” at a rally for South Carolina governor Henry McMaster, a man shot and killed five staff members of Maryland’s Capital Gazette.[1] “Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job,” Trump stated at a news conference the day after the shooting.[2] The Supreme Court upheld the president’s ban on travelers from North Korea, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Venezuela, and struck down a California law requiring reproductive health clinics to inform patients about the availability of abortion services.[3][4] Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he would be retiring, and it was reported that, as an executive at Deutsche Bank, Justice Kennedy’s son Justin Kennedy had presided over $1 billion in loans to President Trump, who has publicly referred to Justin as a “special guy.”[5][6]

Far-left anti-corruption candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has vowed to turn the presidential palace into a public park, was elected president of Mexico with a more than 30-point lead, the largest margin in a Mexican presidential election since 1982; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old democratic socialist bartender from the Bronx, defeated a ten-term congressman in the Democratic primaries with a 15-point lead.[7][8][9] Ivanka Trump copresented a 68-page report written before the family separation policy was enacted at the State Department’s 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report Launch Ceremony, denouncing family separation as harmful; a federal judge ordered the government to reunite separated undocumented families currently in custody within 30 days; and, ordered to appear alone in court for a deportation hearing, a three-year-old climbed on a table in the middle of proceedings.[10][11][12][13] Taco Bell was named the best Mexican restaurant of 2018 in the Harris Poll, an annual survey originally founded to conduct polling for political candidates.[14]

A new report estimated that, unchecked, climate change would depress the living standards of one in every two Indians by 2050.[15] Parents in Sri Lanka marked the 500th day of roadside protests over the disappearance of more than 60,000 people believed to have been abducted by the government during and after the civil war.[16] A Missouri State University professor stopped soliciting photos of penises for a study on self-esteem, stating that public fervor had compromised the reliability of the survey responses; a former security guard at a CVS in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, was sentenced to four years in prison for taking nude photos of female shoplifters in exchange for not calling the police; and in Madison, Wisconsin, a man attempting to take “upskirt” photos suffered a foot injury when the hidden camera in his shoe exploded.[17][18][19] According to the police chief’s blog, “The subject was counseled on his actions and released from the scene as no illicit video had been taken.”[20]Whitney Kimball

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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 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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My father decided that he would end his life by throwing himself from the top of the parking garage at the Nashville airport, which he later told me had seemed like the best combination of convenience—that is, he could get there easily and unnoticed—and sufficiency—that is, he was pretty sure it was tall enough to do the job. I never asked him which other venues he considered and rejected before settling on this plan. He probably did not actually use the word “best.” It was Mother’s Day, 2013.

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