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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I.

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I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she still is, that girl on the screen: hair that tangles, freckles across her nose that in time will spread across one side of her forehead. A body that can throw a baseball the way her father has shown her. A body in which bones and hormones lie in wait, ready to bloom into the wide hips her mother has given her. A body that has scars: the scars over her lungs and heart from the scalpel that saved her when she was a baby, the invisible scars left by a man who touched her when she was young. A body is a record or a body is freedom or a body is a battleground. Already, at eight, she knows it to be all three.

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The writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes lives in a nondescript modern building in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris. I know it well: it has a Bricorama—like a French Home Depot—on the ground floor, where we sometimes had cause to shop back when we lived in the neighborhood. The people who work there seemed to hate their jobs more than most; they were often absent from the sales floor. In the elevator to Despentes’s apartment, I marvel that while I was trying to get someone to help me find bathroom grout she was right upstairs, with her partner, Tania, a Spanish tattoo artist who goes by the name La Rata, like someone out of one of Despentes’s novels.

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That night at the window, looking out at the street full of snow, big flakes falling through the streetlight, I listened to what Anna was saying. She was speaking of a man named Karl. We both knew him as a casual acquaintance—thin and lanky like Ichabod Crane, with long hair—operating a restaurant down in the village whimsically called the Gist Mill, with wood paneling, a large painting of an old gristmill on a river on one wall, tin ceilings, and a row of teller cages from its previous life as a bank. Karl used to run along the river, starting at his apartment in town and turning back about two miles down the path. He had been going through the divorce—this was a couple of years ago, of course, Anna said—and was trying to run through his pain.

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