Weekly Review — June 19, 2019, 12:14 pm

Weekly Review

Almost 2 million people marched in Hong Kong; Greenland’s ice sheet lost an estimated 2 billion tons of ice in one day; Texas announced tax breaks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for luxury yacht owners

Almost 2 million people marched in Hong Kong, according to organizers, in what was the largest demonstration in Hong Kong’s history, demanding the resignation of Carrie Lam, the territory’s China-supported chief executive, following a week of protests over a now-suspended bill that would have made it easier to extradite criminal suspects to mainland China and Taiwan; the government has said that the legislation would “plug the loopholes.”1 2 3 The rallies, which the government said were “made out of love and care,” left at least six dozen injured, as people used umbrellas to shield themselves from police officers who were armed with water cannons, rubber bullets, and pepper spray. In Britain, climate-change protesters concerned with the expansion of Heathrow Airport canceled their plan to fly a swarm of drones over the tarmac and disrupt air travel during the peak summer holiday season, and the U.S. government accused the Iranian military of firing missiles at U.S. drones and then detonating mines planted on Norwegian- and Japanese-owned oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.4 5 “The U.S. explanation has not helped us go beyond speculation,” said a Japanese government official.6 Widespread internet blackouts were reported in Ethiopia, which citizens speculated were intended to prevent students from cheating on exams; as many as 40 million people were left without electricity in Argentina and Uruguay after a countrywide power failure that officials called “unprecedented” and that a taxi driver said left Buenos Aires “like a zombie city”; and a Pakistani politician accidentally livestreamed a press conference with a cat filter, which superimposes cartoon cat ears and noses onto faces, turned on.7 8 9

Boaty McBoatface, an autonomous underwater vehicle that was named in a 2016 internet poll, discovered that stronger Antarctic winds, the result of a growing hole in the ozone layer, have been causing more ocean turbulence, which in turn has raised sea levels and temperatures.10 Temperatures were 40 degrees higher than normal in Greenland, as the country’s ice sheet lost an estimated 2 billion tons of ice on Thursday during record melting, and areas of the Arctic Ocean that have been frozen for most of human history were reported to be underwater.11 Millions of acres of farmland were flooded and hundreds of barges were stranded along the Mississippi River, which has been experiencing its longest flood in 90 years after several states in the river’s watershed experienced their rainiest months of May on record.12 13 14 In India, where 6,000 people have been killed by heat waves since 2010, the death toll from the latest heat wave rose to 36 as 118-degree temperatures in New Delhi broke records.15 Researchers theorized that the moon is shrinking, and discovered an unexplained mass weighing 4,800,000,000,000,000,000 pounds surrounding its south pole.16 The head of a 40,000-year-old wolf was found preserved in permafrost in Siberia with its fur, teeth, and brain intact.17 The Canadian government announced that edible candies, cookies, and lotions containing cannabis will be legally available later this year, and researchers discovered that people in the Pamir Mountains of western China were using cannabis as early as 500 b.c.18 19 “The plant,” said one archaeobotanist, “has a long history.” A former high school safety advocate in Danbury, Connecticut, was arrested after being accused of giving students marijuana, and had his bail set at $5,000; recreational marijuana use in the state is decriminalized, but distribution is punishable by a minimum of seven years in prison.20 21 Scientists found that the eggs of some species of fish can pass through swans’ digestive systems and hatch from their feces.22

One hundred and twenty whoopie pies were stolen from a fairground in Maine, and a woman in South Carolina was arrested for driving a Power Wheels toy truck while drunk.23 24 A semitruck reportedly carrying 133 million bees overturned in Montana; two semis collided in Indiana, spilling lithium batteries and cocoa across a freeway; and a semi carrying thousands of chickens crashed in Ohio.25 26 27 An alligator bit off the bumper of a police car north of Shreveport, Louisiana; a man traveling from Florida to Hawaii accidentally brought a snake on a plane; and an alligator was spotted in Texas with a knife wedged in its brow.28 29 30 “I don’t want to see an alligator swimming around with a knife in his head,” said a resident. A 47-year-old man in Israel reportedly stole $8,400 from two banks by threatening tellers with an avocado which he had painted black, and claimed was a grenade, and the former president of Northwestern University’s Sigma Chi fraternity was charged with stealing $460,000 from the organization and converting more than $267,000 of it into Iraqi dinars.31 32 It was reported that condo developers in Vancouver, British Columbia, were offering a year’s supply of free avocado toast to entice prospective buyers; at the U.S. Open in Pebble Beach, California, five people were injured by a rogue golf cart that crashed into spectators; and Texas announced tax breaks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for luxury yacht owners.33 34 35 In North Carolina, an eight-year-old boy had to be rescued when the inflatable plastic unicorn he was riding floated out into the Atlantic.36Sharon J. Riley

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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!”

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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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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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