Weekly Review — February 5, 2019, 11:40 am

Weekly Review

Twenty-one people died in weather-related incidents; Howard Schultz and Michael Bloomberg criticized Medicare for all; Russia’s Ministry of Justice proposed softening anti-corruption laws

The Midwestern and Northeastern United States experienced subzero temperatures, with certain states hitting windchill values that have not been recorded in the 21st century.1 At least 21 people died in weather-related incidents, including a freshman at the University of Iowa, who did not have alcohol in his system, and a 69-year-old FedEx worker, who was found between two tractors at an East Moline, Illinois, delivery hub.2 3 4 A federal prison in Brooklyn, New York, operated with limited electricity, heat, and hot water for six days; following public outcry, additional blankets and generators were sent to the facility.5 6 The Willow 300 Sled Dog Race, a qualifier for the Iditarod and Yukon Quest, was canceled because of rain and poor trail conditions.7 Australia finished its hottest recorded month, which has caused heat-stressed bats to fall from trees.8 9 Scientists at University College London released a study concluding that the Little Ice Age, a period of global cooling that began in the late 1500s, was a direct consequence of the colonization of the Americas, in which approximately 10 percent of the world’s population died and an area the size of France was reforested.10 “This is useful; it shows us what reforestation can do,” said coauthor Chris Brierley. “That kind of reduction is worth perhaps just two years of fossil fuel emissions at the present rate.”11 Police officers in Columbus, Ohio, pretended to arrest a woman dressed as Elsa, the snow queen in the Disney movie Frozen, for creating the polar vortex.12

After a photograph of a man wearing blackface and another man wearing a Klu Klux Klan hood on the page of Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook was published online, the Virginia governor apologized for wearing a racist costume, and stated that he was unsure which person was him; later, he denied that he was in the picture, admitted that he had blacked up for a Michael Jackson dance contest in San Antonio, Texas, and vowed to serve his full term.13 14 “That’s not correct, that’s not American. What’s next?” said Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, who is “seriously considering running for president as a centrist independent,” criticizing the concept of Medicare for all.15 16 Michael Bloomberg, the 11th richest person in the world, echoed Schultz’s sentiment.17 “I think you could never afford that.”18 The president of Sudan dismissed the potential for Facebook and WhatsApp to oust heads of state, as protests against the Sudanese government continued in the streets of Khartoum, where demonstrations have been taking place since December, when bread subsidies were cut.19 It was revealed that Facebook has been paying users between the ages of 13 and 35 up to $20 per month, plus referral fees, in exchange for access to their photos, emails, web searches, browsing activity, location information, chats, and private messages, and FamilyTreeDNA, which offers DNA-testing to consumers, has admitted to sharing its genetic database with the FBI.20 21 North Korea’s Clothing Research Center announced that it has created clothing that contains “high-grade protein, amino acids, fruit juice, magnesium, iron, and calcium” and can therefore be eaten to avoid starvation.22

The Nixon Foundation sought to distance itself from Roger Stone.23 The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, retold Aesop’s fable about the sun and north wind during a meeting with First Nations chiefs, and Quebec’s premier objected to a proposed nationwide day against Islamophobia, and said that Islamophobia isn’t a problem in his province.24 25 India has requested the release of students who applied to the University of Farmington, which was a sting operation set up by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to catch people overstaying their visas, and Amazon’s Indian division was forced to stop selling products made by companies in which it holds an equity stake after a new law took effect.26 27 Russia’s Ministry of Justice has proposed softening anti-corruption laws, specifically in cases where corruption is “due to force majeure.”28 The director of the British Museum told a Greek newspaper that statues from the Parthenon, commonly known as the Elgin Marbles, do not belong to Greece. “When you move a cultural heritage to a museum, you move it outside. However, this shifting is also a creative act,” he said.29 Norway has urged students looking to study abroad not to apply to universities in the United Kingdom.30Violet Lucca

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In the heart of the US Capitol there’s a small men’s room with an uplifting Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt quotation above the door. Making use of the facilities there after lunch in the nearby House dining room about a year ago, I found myself standing next to Trent Lott. Once a mighty power in the building as Senate Republican leader, he had been forced to resign his post following some imprudently affectionate references to his fellow Republican senator, arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond. Now he was visiting the Capitol as a lucratively employed lobbyist.

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The story begins, as so many do, with a journey. In this case, it’s a seemingly simple one: a young girl, cloaked in red, must carry a basket of food through the woods to her bedridden grandmother. Along the way, she meets a duplicitous wolf who persuades her to dawdle: Notice the robins, he says; Laze in the sun, breathe in the hyacinth and bluebells; Wouldn’t your grandmother like a fresh bouquet? Meanwhile, he hastens to her grandmother’s cottage, where he swallows the old woman whole, slips into her bed, and waits for his final course.

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They were released.

For the first time in seven years, they stood outside in the courtyard of the reeducation center. They looked across at the gate. They remembered none of this. The flagpole and the towers. The cameras. Prany counted the sentries in the towers. He heard the rattle of keys as the guard behind him, wearing a green uniform, undid his handcuffs. Then the guard undid Vang’s. They rubbed their free wrists. Vang made fists with his hands.

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Ten years ago, a week after his sixtieth birthday, and six months after his first appointment with an oncologist, my father died. That afternoon, I went to my parents’ bedroom to clear up the remains of the lunch my mother had brought him not long before he collapsed. A copy of Yiyun Li’s novel The Vagrants, which he’d asked me for after I reviewed it in a newspaper, was open on his bedside table. He had gotten about halfway through it. The Vagrants isn’t what you’d call a consoling book—it centers on a young woman’s unjust execution in a provincial Chinese town in 1979—and I had mixed feelings about it being the last thing he’d read. Perhaps an adolescent part of me had been happy to let him have it out of a need to see him as a more fearless reader than he might have wanted to be just then. Still, my father had read Proust and Robert Musil while working as a real estate agent. There was comfort, of a sort, for me, and maybe him, in his refusal of comfort reading.

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