Weekly Review — July 10, 2018, 1:41 pm

Weekly Review

Flooding in Japan, Scott Pruitt resigns, and Weibo users cheer on a shipment of soybeans

In Japan, three times the average precipitation for July fell in five days, killing at least 157, leaving more than 80 missing, and forcing millions to evacuate.[1][2] Almost 3,000 children, including 100 under the age of 5, are still in US government custody after being separated from their families, and it was reported that the US Army has been kicking out immigrant recruits who had been offered a path to citizenship.[3][4] Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, agreed to construct border camps for migrants, and in Denmark, a new law will force immigrants’ children as young as 1 to leave their parents for 25 hours a week for lessons in Danish values and Santa.[5][6] “The world is a gangster,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after he visited North Korea to negotiate denuclearization and Pyongyang claimed the United States was acting in a “gangster like” way.[7][8] Users on Chinese social media site Weibo cheered on the Peak Pegasus, a cargo ship full of soybeans, to reach the port at Dalian before 5 pm, when a 25 percent levy on certain US agricultural products went into effect; the ship arrived at 5:30 pm.[9][10] The Shabab, a terrorist group in East Africa, banned plastic bags out of concern for the environment.[11] On Friday, Earth was at its farthest distance from the sun this year.[12]

Scott Pruitt—who is being investigated for using a loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act to give raises; not saving records; buying a $43,000 phone booth; retaliating against employees who questioned his spending; and using aides to pay for his hotel rooms, buy a used mattress, acquire lotion offered by Ritz-Carlton hotels, arrange a dinner with a Vatican cardinal, and keep a secret calendar to hide his meetings—resigned as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.[13][14][15][16][17] On Pruitt’s last day, the EPA moved to create a loophole allowing increased production of a diesel truck that pollutes as much as 55 times more than vehicles with modern emission controls.[18] “It’s extraordinary that the president of the United States could hire someone like this,” said a Fox News executive upon hearing that Bill Shine, who was ousted from the network for mishandling allegations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment, had been hired as head of communications for the White House.[19] President Donald Trump mocked the #MeToo movement at a rally in Great Falls, Montana, saying that, when throwing a DNA testing kit at Senator Elizabeth Warren in a challenge to prove she has Native American heritage, he’d have to throw it “gently”; at the same event, the president also explained, “The brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain. The brain is much more important.”[20][21] A 51-year-old Morgan Stanley executive created a political party called the Serve America Movement, which has gathered $1.3 million, and has no clear policy priorities; and Belgian police announced the arrest of an Iranian diplomat for helping plot a bomb attack at a rally of exiled Iranians in Villepinte, France, which was attended by Rudy Giuliani.[22][23] Turkey dismissed 18,632 civil servants in the latest response to the attempted 2016 coup, and Poland removed 27 of 72 Supreme Court judges.[24][25]

Twelve Thai boys and their soccer coach trapped in the Tham Luang cave were rescued by Thai Navy SEALs, and SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk left Wild Boar, a mini-submarine he had commissioned for their recovery, with local authorities who had declined to use it for their mission.[26][27] In South Africa, lions killed two rhinoceros poachers; in Houston, a moped rider hit two horses and was severely injured; and in Japan, an octopus that correctly predicted the results of the country’s World Cup games was killed and sent to the market to be sold as food.[28][29][30] For the first time, scientists released an image of a planet’s initial moments of existence and Samsung phones sent pictures from users’ photo libraries to random contacts.[31][32] On July 4, a 41-year-old white man shot his black 19-year-old neighbor in Austin after they argued about setting off fireworks.[33]Jacob Rosenberg

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“Something’s changing,” said our dear leader, “and it’ll change back again.” This particular flavor of gaslighting dates back several decades. Like any canny half-truth, it grafts insinuations onto an unassailable fact. It is true, after all, that the global climate has changed drastically before, and that it will change again . . . some millennia from now. It is also true that many of these past changes brought on mass global death. Our concerns about climate change, to restate the obvious, are not for the climate itself. Our concerns are for our civilization, which has organized its infrastructure, trade, national borders, food production, and cities around specific climatic conditions under the assumption that they are permanent. Even a slight unsettling of these conditions will, like the shifting of tectonic plates, cause seismic upheavals. Unlike most matters of global political significance, there is no direct historical analogue for our situation—the unprecedented nature of the crisis is part of its horror. But human beings have endured climatic changes before. A growing historical subdiscipline (cli-hi?) has developed to examine how they managed it. With horrific suffering is the short answer, but Philipp Blom, a German translator and journalist who lives in Los Angeles, proposes in Nature’s Mutiny an artful corollary: that the hardships of a changing climate spurred the creation of what we think of as modern civilization, while at the same time inscribing within its genetic code the germ of its own demise.

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