Weekly Review — August 20, 2019, 2:26 pm

Weekly Review

The acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services interpreted the sonnet affixed to the Statue of Liberty; John Hickenlooper ended his presidential campaign

India celebrated the 72nd anniversary of its independence from Britain, temporarily relaxed, and then reimposed restrictions it had placed on residents of Jammu and Kashmir, which prevent them from using the internet, making phone calls, receiving prescriptions from doctors, and moving around freely.1  Several musicians released songs praising the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which had given the Muslim-majority state its own flag, constitution, and internal administration; the songs also celebrate the opportunity to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir and for men from other states to marry Kashmiri wives.2 More than 4,000 Kashmiris who have staged protests every day since the revocation were arrested under a law that allows extended imprisonment without charge or trial.3 “Today every Indian can proudly say, ‘One India, One Constitution,’” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a televised address that could not be viewed in Jammu and Kashmir.4 In Bangladesh, 10,000 people were left homeless after a fire razed a slum during Eid al-Adha.5 “May God ruin him,” said Muftia Tlaib, the 90-year-old grandmother of U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, about Donald Trump, who pressured Israel to ban Tlaib and fellow representative Ilhan Omar from visiting Israel and Palestine, where Tlaib’s grandmother lives; Israel offered Tlaib the opportunity to visit the West Bank so long as she would not advocate for boycotts of Israel, which she at first accepted and then declined.6 7 8 The Israel Defense Forces allegedly prevented Palestinian ambulances from accessing an enclave in the north of the Gaza Strip for hours after an I.D.F. helicopter and a tank attacked the area, killing three Palestinians.9 “I never thought I would start my week defending the bald eagle and end my week defending the Statue of Liberty,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said after committing the state to take legal action against the Trump Administration for weakening protections ensured in the Endangered Species Act and asserting that immigrants who use or are likely to use government benefits such as Medicaid, housing vouchers, and food stamps may be denied green cards and visas come October.10 11 12 The acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who announced the latter measure, said that the sonnet affixed to the Statue of Liberty, written by a woman whose ancestors fled to America from Brazil, refers only to the European tired, European poor, and European huddled masses.13 A family was forced to abandon their Florida vacation home after a committee of black vultures vomited and defecated in their back yard and pool.14

It was reported that, in the days leading up to Jeffrey Epstein’s death inside the Metropolitan Correctional Center, he gave at least three other inmates money and repeatedly emptied the two vending machines adjacent to the attorney-client room where he and his team of lawyers would meet for up to 12 hours at a time.15 The night of his death, 18 workers, 10 of whom were working overtime, were guarding 750 prisoners in the jail; one of the two guards assigned to check his cell every 30 minutes reportedly fell asleep on the job. Following an autopsy, the New York City medical examiner determined that Epstein committed suicide by hanging, and his lawyers vowed to conduct an investigation that would arrive at a more satisfactory conclusion.16 An A.C.L.U. test of facial recognition technology on police body cameras incorrectly identified 26 California legislators as suspected criminals, and a federal court case revealed that the police in Portland, Oregon, digitally removed a black man’s extensive facial tattoos from a mugshot used to connect him to a spate of bank robberies.17 18 More than 2,000 people signed a petition to reinstate Sergeant Butters, a tabby cat, to the Mocksville Police Department in North Carolina.19 20 Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, who was once mistaken for a journalist at a debate, ended his Democratic presidential campaign.21 Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams announced that, instead of joining the 23 Democrats still competing for the nomination, she would helm a new nationwide initiative to end voter suppression.22 23

Eleven thousand people attended the ninth and final BronyCon, a convention for adult fans of the show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.24 A woman survived a 5,000-foot fall from a plane over Quebec after her skydiving parachute failed to deploy.25 A girl in a wheelchair survived falling off a dock during a cruise stop in the U.S. Virgin Islands after two local men jumped in to save her from drowning.26 NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family survived his private jet’s crash landing by escaping the plane minutes before it burst into flames on a Tennessee highway.27 A man rescued a family of four from a wolf attack in a Canadian national park by kicking the wolf’s butt.28 Tennessee police implored locals to not flush drugs down their toilets and so risk creating “meth-gators,” and scientists worried about the implications of an Israeli lunar lander accidentally letting thousands of tardigrades, microscopic animals that can survive for years without food or water, loose on the moon.29 30 It was reported that a Chinese tanker surreptitiously changed its name from Pacific Bravo to Latin Venture in the middle of the Indian Ocean in a failed attempt to avoid U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil.31 A federal judge in South Carolina ruled in favor of personal-injury lawyer George Sink Sr., who had sued his son, George Sink Jr., for using his own name at his competing law firm.32 A county commissioner in Florida who once referred to Parkland student activists as “little monsters” received a box of dildos.33Jordan Cutler-Tietjen

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To Serve Is to Rule

The not-so-good ol’ days: considering the WASP supremacy

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“You’re being reborn,” the voice says. “Exiting the womb of your mother. Coming into the earth as a small baby. Everything is new.” It is a Saturday morning in mid-March, and right now I’m lying on a yoga mat in a lodge in Ohio, surrounded by fifty other men who’ve come to the Midwest for a weekend of manhood-confirming adventures. The voice in question belongs to Aaron Blaine, a facilitator for Evryman, the men’s group orchestrating this three-day retreat. All around me, men are shedding tears as Blaine leads us on a guided meditation, a kind of archetypal montage of Norman Rockwell boyhood. “You’re starting to figure things out,” he says, in somniferous baritone. “Snow, for the first time. Sunshine. Start to notice the smells, the tastes, the confusion. The fear. And you’re growing. You’re about ten years old. The world’s huge and scary.”

Even though it’s only the second day of the Evryman retreat, it’s worth noting that I’ve already been the subject of light fraternal teasing. Already I’ve been the recipient of countless unsought hugs. Already I have sat in Large Groups and Small Groups, and watched dozens of middle-aged men weep with shame and contrition. I’ve had a guy in the military tell me he wants to be “a rock for his family.” I’ve heard a guy from Ohio say that his beard “means something.” Twice I’ve hiked through the woods to “reconnect with Mother Nature,” and I have been addressed by numerous men as both “dude” and “brother.” I have performed yoga and yard drills and morning calisthenics. I’ve heard seven different men play acoustic guitar. I’ve heard a man describe his father by saying, “There wasn’t a lot of ball-tossing when I was growing up.” Three times I’ve been queried about how I’m “processing everything,” and at the urinal on Friday night, two men warned me about the upcoming “Anger Ceremony,” which is rumored to be the weekend’s “pièce de résistance.”

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The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding the postwar boom. Those sockless people in Top-Siders, whose ancestors’ names and portraits adorned the walls, were entirely new to me. I made friends with some, but I was not free of a corrosive envy of their habitus of ease and entitlement.

I used to visit one of those friends in the Hamptons, in the 1970s, when the area was about wood-paneled Ford station wagons, not Lamborghinis. There was some money in the family, but not gobs, yet they lived two blocks from the beach—prime real estate. Now, down the road from what used to be their house is the residence of Ira Rennert. It’s one of the largest private homes in the United States. The union-busting, pension-fund-looting Rennert, whose wealth comes from, among other things, chemical companies that are some of the worst polluters in the country, made his first money in the 1980s as a cog in Michael Milken’s junk-bond machine. In 2015, a court ordered him to return $215 million he had appropriated from one of his companies to pay for the house. One-hundred-car garages and twenty-one (or maybe twenty-nine) bedrooms don’t come cheap.

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I slept for a good seven hours on the overnight flight from Spain to Peru, and while I slept I dreamed that I was leading American visitors around a park in Berlin, looking for birds on a hazy, overcast day. There wasn’t much to see until we noticed a distant commotion in the sky. Large raptors were panicking, driven back and forth by something threatening them from above. The commotion moved closer. The clouds parted, an oval aperture backed with blue. In it two seraphim hovered motionless. “Those are angels,” I told the group.

They were between us and the sun, but an easy ­I.D. Size aside, no other European bird has two sets of wings. The upper wings cast their faces into shadow. Despite the glare I could make out their striking peaches-­and-­cream coloration. Ivory white predominates, hair a faint yellow, eyes blue, wings indescribably iridescent. Faces blank and expressionless, as with all birds.

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Last May, the families of students at Cypress Academy, an independent charter school in New Orleans, received an email announcing that the school would close when classes ended the following week and that all its students would be transferred to another nearby charter for the upcoming year. Parents would have the option of entering their children in the city’s charter-enrollment lottery, but the lottery’s first round had already taken place, and the most desirable spots for the fall were filled.

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how high? that high

He had his stick that was used mostly to point at your head if your head wasn’t held up proudly.

I still like that man—Holger! He had been an orphan!

He came up to me once because there was something about how I was moving my feet that wasn’t according to the regulations or his expectations.

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At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

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