Weekly Review — May 21, 2019, 1:39 pm

Weekly Review

More states introduced abortion restrictions; Donald Trump gave Bill de Blasio advice; Australia reelected Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, invoking “Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God,” signed into law a bill—called “extreme” by televangelist Pat Robertson—that bans doctors from performing abortions during any stage of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape and incest, and that carries a punishment of up to 99 years in prison.1 The bill contains language contrasting death statistics from historical atrocities—such as the German concentration camps, the Soviet gulag, the Cambodian killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide—with a figure reflecting the number of abortions performed since Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, a death count the bill alleges is three times higher than that in the other listed events combined.2 A day after signing the bill, the pro-life Governor Ivey declined to halt the execution of the convicted murderer Michael Brandon Samra; in the past, she has said that she does not “relish the responsibility” of overseeing executions.3 The Missouri House voted to ban abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, without exceptions for rape and incest, a so-called heartbeat bill similar to those recently introduced or passed in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio.4 5 A two-and-a-half-year-old Guatemalan boy died after spending weeks in the hospital following his family’s apprehension at the U.S.–Mexico border—the boy was the fourth migrant minor to die in U.S. custody since December; the fifth, a 16-year-old who was also from Guatemala, died four days later.6 7 Photographs leaked by a source with access to a McAllen, Texas, Border Patrol station showed migrants, many of whom were children, sleeping on the ground and covered by Mylar blankets.8 Mark Morgan, who is the White House’s choice to lead ICE, said that he can judge the likelihood that an unaccompanied minor is a “soon-to-be MS-13 gang member” by looking into that child’s eyes.9 A new analysis found that growth in a metro area’s population of unauthorized immigrants does not lead to higher local crime rates.10

The White House requested paperwork needed to pardon several military service members convicted of war crimes, including Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, who is charged with shooting two unarmed Iraqi civilians—a young woman and an elderly man—and fatally stabbing a teenage captive with a hunting knife and bragging about it in text messages.11 Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who in 2013 pleaded guilty to leaking military reports and State Department cables that revealed U.S. military war crimes, was sent to jail on Thursday after refusing, for a second time, to cooperate with a grand jury.12 President Trump pardoned Conrad Black, a Canadian-born citizen of Britain who was found guilty of mail fraud and obstruction of justice and is the author of the biography Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.13 Saudi Arabia’s government announced that Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels had damaged two of its oil tankers in an act of sabotage, and the following day, a Houthi spokesman took responsibility for drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities; President Trump said “I hope not” when asked if the U.S. was going to war with Iran, and later tweeted, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran . . . Never threaten the United States again!”; and Gene Simmons of the band Kiss addressed Department of Defense personnel in the Pentagon Briefing Room.14 15 16 17 Montana Governor Steve Bullock and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio became the 22nd and 23rd politicians to announce campaigns for president as Democrats; President Trump tweeted a video calling de Blasio “the worst mayor in the history of New York City” and, he closed by saying, “Really, it would be better if you went back to New York City and did your job for the little time you have left. Good luck. Do well.”18 19 The College Board tested a tool that would give S.A.T.-takers a score measuring factors such as the rate of teens who receive free or reduced-price lunch in students’ high schools, as well as information about their home life and neighborhoods, such as average family income, educational attainment, housing stability, and crime, in an effort to account for disadvantages.20 A high school lunch lady was fired for feeding a student who couldn’t pay after the vendor accused her of stealing the eight dollar tab.21 A billionaire technology investor told the graduating class at Morehouse College at their commencement ceremony that he would pay off their $40 million in student loans.22

A Pennsylvania school’s active-shooter simulation video featured a teacher in a Middle Eastern–style headdress posing as a gunman.23 It was reported that 200 U.S. school districts are using the Share911 app, which allows staff to report active-shooter events to colleagues and the police.24 An Israeli firm used spyware that exploits a security hole in WhatsApp to break into the digital communications of iPhone and Android phone users for the purposes of spying on human-rights activists and journalists; San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted to approve a ban on the use of facial-recognition technology by city agencies, including the police department; Uber added a “quiet mode” feature that allows passengers to choose from options such as “quiet preferred,” “happy to chat,” or “no preference”; $75 cups of exclusive Panamanian coffee sold out at several Southern California locations of Klatch Coffee Roasters; a 16-year-old Malaysian girl killed herself after posting an Instagram poll asking her followers whether or not she should die, and 69 percent of responders voting yes; a millionaire’s daughter’s victory on the Russian TV talent show The Voice Kids was rescinded after thousands of votes were found to have been cast by bots; and Study the Great Nation, the Chinese Communist Party’s new app, was the ninth most popular app worldwide in the App Store.25 26 27 28 29 30 31 Australia reelected Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a climate-change denier, following the country’s hottest summer on record.32 33 Taiwan’s parliament approved a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage, making it the first government in Asia to do so.34 A painting of haystacks by Claude Monet sold for $110.7 million, a record for an Impressionist work, and a Jeff Koons rabbit sculpture sold for $91.1 million, a record price for a work by a living artist.35 Dennis Rodman was accused of stealing a 400-pound amethyst crystal from a yoga studio.36Justin Stewart

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I was tucked in a blind behind a soda machine, with nothing in my hand but notepad and phone, when a herd of running backs broke cover and headed across the convention center floor. My God, they’re beautiful! A half dozen of them, compact as tanks, stuffed into sports shirts and cotton pants, each, around his monstrous neck, wearing a lanyard that listed number and position, name and schedule, tasks to be accomplished at the 2019 N.F.L. Scout­ing Combine. They attracted the stunned gaze of football fans and beat writers, yet, seemingly unaware of their surroundings, continued across the carpet.

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Thirty miles from the coast, on a desert plateau in the Judaean Mountains without natural resources or protection, Jerusalem is not a promising site for one of the world’s great cities, which partly explains why it has been burned to the ground twice and besieged or attacked more than seventy times. Much of the Old City that draws millions of tourists and Holy Land pilgrims dates back two thousand years, but the area ­likely served as the seat of the Judaean monarchy a full millennium before that. According to the Bible, King David conquered the Canaanite city and established it as his capital, but over centuries of destruction and rebuilding all traces of that period were lost. In 1867, a British military officer named Charles Warren set out to find the remnants of David’s kingdom. He expected to search below the famed Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, but the Ottoman authorities denied his request to excavate there. Warren decided to dig instead on a slope outside the Old City walls, observing that the Psalms describe Jerusalem as lying in a valley surrounded by hills, not on top of one.

On a Monday morning earlier this year, I walked from the Old City’s Muslim Quarter to the archaeological site that Warren unearthed, the ancient core of Jerusalem now known as the City of David. In the alleys of the Old City, stone insulated the air and awnings blocked the sun, so the streets were cold and dark and the mood was somber. Only the pilgrims were up this early. American church groups filed along the Via Dolorosa, holding thin wooden crosses and singing a hymn based on a line from the Gospel of Luke: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Narrow shops sold gardenia, musk, and amber incense alongside sweatshirts promoting the Israel Defense Forces.

I passed through the Western Wall Plaza to the Dung Gate, popularly believed to mark the ancient route along which red heifers were led to the Temple for sacrifice. Outside the Old City walls, in the open air, I found light and heat and noise. Tour buses lined up like train cars along the ridge. Monday is the day when bar and bat mitzvahs are held in Israel, and drumbeats from distant celebrations mixed with the pounding of jackhammers from construction sites nearby. When I arrived at the City of David, workmen were refinishing the wooden deck at the site’s entrance and laying down a marble mosaic by the ticket window.

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Eleven years ago, on a bitter January night, dozens of young men, dressed in a uniform of black berets, white T-­shirts, and black pants, gathered on a hill overlooking the Nigerian city of Jos, shouting, dancing, and shooting guns into the black sky. A drummer pounded a rhythmic beat. Amid the roiling crowd, five men crawled toward a candlelit dais, where a white-­robed priest stood holding an axe. Leading them was John, a sophomore at the local college, powerfully built and baby-faced. Over the past six hours, he had been beaten and burned, trampled and taunted. He was exhausted. John looked out at the landscape beyond the priest. It was the harmattan season, when Saharan sand blots out the sky, and the city lights in the distance blurred in John’s eyes as if he were underwater.

John had been raised by a single mother in Kaduna, a hardscrabble city in Nigeria’s arid north. She’d worked all hours as a construction supplier, but the family still struggled to get by. Her three boys were left alone for long stretches, and they killed time hunting at a nearby lake while listening to American rap. At seventeen, John had enrolled at the University of Jos to study business. Four hours southeast of his native Kaduna, Jos was another world, temperate and green. John’s mother sent him an allowance, and he made cash on the side rearing guard dogs for sale in Port Harcourt, the perilous capital of Nigeria’s oil industry. But it wasn’t much. John’s older brother, also studying in Jos, hung around with a group of Axemen—members of the Black Axe fraternity—who partied hard and bought drugs and cars. Local media reported a flood of crimes that Axemen had allegedly committed, but his brother’s friends promised John that, were he to join the group, he wouldn’t be forced into anything illegal. He could just come to the parties, help out at the odd charity drive, and enjoy himself. It was up to him.

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I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t get up—­just couldn’t get up, couldn’t get up or leave. All day lying in that median, unable. Was this misery or joy?

It’s happened to you, too, hasn’t it? A habit or phase, a marriage, a disease, children or drugs, money or debt—­something you believed inescapable, something that had been going on for so long that you’d forgotten any and every step taken to lead your life here. What did you do? How did this happen? When you try to solve the crossword, someone keeps adding clues.

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The Catholic School, by Edoardo Albinati. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1,280 pages. $40.

In a quiet northern suburb of Rome, a woman hears noises in the street and sends her son to investigate. Someone is locked in the trunk of a Fiat 127. The police arrive and find one girl seriously injured, together with the corpse of a second. Both have been raped, tortured, and left for dead. The survivor speaks of three young aggressors and a villa by the sea. Within hours two of the men have been arrested. The other will never be found.

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