Weekly Review — May 29, 2019, 12:45 pm

Weekly Review

Nigel Farage was hit with a milkshake; Ben Carson asked the House Financial Committee about an Oreo

Theresa May, whose government passed the fewest laws of any U.K. administration in the past 30 years, announced that she would step down as Conservative Party leader and prime minister because she had failed to find a way to leave the European Union.1 2 “Complete failure,” said Nigel Farage, the leader of the recently created Brexit Party, after being hit with a banana and salted caramel milkshake in Newcastle; two days later, in Kent, his driver informed a television crew, “There are a couple of guys standing over there with milkshakes. . . . Nigel isn’t getting off the bus.”3 4 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who refers to himself in the third person in speeches about bombing Pakistan and whose terms have seen a dramatic rise in the lynching of Muslims, was reelected; during his first press conference following his victory, Modi avoided answering questions.5 6 7 A former bank CEO from Chicago was arrested for allegedly attempting to loan $16 billion to Paul Manafort in order to buy a position within the Trump Administration; the First American Financial Corporation fixed a hole in its website that had allowed 885 million mortgage records to be viewable; and newly released documents showed that the Securities and Exchange Commission only collected 28 percent of fines assessed in 2018, the lowest number in a decade.8 9 10 A new survey showed that about half of rural Americans could not afford a random $1,000 expense, and, according to the Federal Reserve, four in ten Americans could not pay for an unexpected $400 expense.11 12 Kris Kobach—the general counsel for the We Build the Wall group, which has raised nearly $23 million through GoFundMe to construct a southern border wall—gave a list of 10 conditions for his acceptance of the position of U.S. immigration czar, which included 24/7 access to a jet, a promise to function as the principal spokesman on television and in the media for immigration policy, and an office in the West Wing.13 14 The winners of the Asturias Squash Championship were given vibrators and electronic feet exfoliators as prizes.15

“I was basically in a room of swirling glass,” said a resident of Jefferson City, Missouri, who experienced part of a spring storm season that has killed at least nine people, caused 30 or more tornadoes, and resulted in flash flooding across the Southern Plains.16 17 A $19.1 billion disaster relief package, which would have provided $3 billion for farms in the South and Midwest, was halted by the lone no vote of Representative Chip Roy of Texas.18 Facebook declined to remove a video of Nancy Pelosi that was slowed down to make it seem as though she was drunkenly slurring her words, and Donald Trump, who attended the meeting the House speaker was discussing in the video, tweeted a separate, doctored video of a press conference by Pelosi where she appeared to stutter, which had also aired on Lou Dobbs Tonight.19 20 President Trump announced that he was sending 1,500 more soldiers to the Middle East for “protection” against Iran; Dennis Rodman, for no apparent reason, allegedly slapped someone at his birthday party; and Mississippi State Representative Douglas McLeod, a cosponsor of his state’s antiabortion bill that defined life as beginning at conception, was arrested after he allegedly punched his wife’s face because she did not undress expeditiously for him.21 22 23 Ben Carson, head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, testified before the House Financial Services Committee, and, when asked about R.E.O., a common initialism for foreclosed properties, Carson replied, “An Oreo?”24

Washington State legalized the composting of human bodies.25 An Illinois zoo was forced to euthanize a flamingo after a boy skipped a rock into the bird’s habitat and struck the animal.26 Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin announced that the redesign of the $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman will be delayed until 2028.27 The Clotilda, the last ship that illegally brought slaves to the United States, in 1860, was discovered in Alabama.28 Ark Encounter, a Christian theme park with a replica of Noah’s Ark, sued its insurance company for damages related to slightly above average rainfall.29 A study predicted that the average size of animals will shrink 25 percent in the next century.30Jacob Rosenberg

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About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

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America’s Constitution was once celebrated as a radical and successful blueprint for democratic governance, a model for fledgling republics across the world. But decades of political gridlock, electoral corruption, and dysfunction in our system of government have forced scholars, activists, and citizens to question the document’s ability to address the thorniest issues of modern ­political life.

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.
—Chaucer

I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

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Power of Attorney·

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In a Walmart parking lot in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 2015, a white police officer named Stephen Rankin shot and killed an unarmed, eighteen-­year-­old black man named William Chapman. “This is my second one,” he told a bystander seconds after firing the fatal shots, seemingly in reference to an incident four years earlier, when he had shot and killed another unarmed man, an immigrant from Kazakhstan. Rankin, a Navy veteran, had been arresting Chapman for shoplifting when, he claimed, Chapman charged him in a manner so threatening that he feared for his life, leaving him no option but to shoot to kill—­the standard and almost invariably successful defense for officers when called to account for shooting civilians. Rankin had faced no charges for his earlier killing, but this time, something unexpected happened: Rankin was indicted on a charge of first-­degree murder by Portsmouth’s newly elected chief prosecutor, thirty-­one-year-­old Stephanie Morales. Furthermore, she announced that she would try the case herself, the first time she had ever prosecuted a homicide. “No one could remember us having an actual prosecution for the killing of an unarmed person by the police,” Morales told me. “I got a lot of feedback, a lot of people saying, ‘You shouldn’t try this case. If you don’t win, it may affect your reelection. Let someone else do it.’ ”

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Secrets and Lies·

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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.

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