Weekly Review — September 4, 2019, 4:08 pm

Weekly Review

Hurricane Dorian strengthened; Donald Trump golfed; Mike and Karen Pence stayed at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland

An Oklahoma judge ordered the drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its role in the opioid crisis—which, between 2015 and 2018, was fueled by 18 million opioid prescriptions in a state with a population of approximately 3.9 million people—ruling that the company breached a “public nuisance” law by overstating the benefits and downplaying the risks associated with this class of painkiller; the settlement, the first such case concluded against an opioid manufacturer, is significantly less than the $17 billion sought by the state to redress the public-health crisis.1 After the ruling, Johnson & Johnson’s stock price rose by 4 percent, and the Sacklers, who are the 19th richest family in America and own Purdue Pharma, which produces OxyContin, tentatively offered to relinquish control of the company and pay $3 billion of their own money to settle the more than 2,000 lawsuits they’re facing around the nation.2 3 Near the West Texas cities of Midland and Odessa, a gunman, whom officers had attempted to pull over for failing to use a turn indicator, killed 7 people and injured at least 21 others while driving a stolen vehicle and firing an assault-style weapon at bystanders. The mother of a 17-month-old girl who was shot in her front teeth and underwent surgery to remove shrapnel from her chest told Texas governor Greg Abbott, “Toddlers are funny because they can get shot but still want to run around and play.”4 5 6 Nine hours after the killing spree, eight new Texas gun laws, which loosened weapon restrictions, went into effect.7 “More to follow,” tweeted President Trump after being briefed on the killings, and a Texas state representative tweeted that “the evil acts of a handful of people” were not a good enough reason to restrict gun access but that he would be “praying that God would transform the hearts of people with evil intent.”8 9 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints banned guns from houses of worship, and in the Vatican, Pope Francis was trapped in an elevator for 25 minutes before being rescued by firefighters.10 11

The Department of Homeland Security announced it would reallocate $155 million from FEMA’s disaster relief fund toward border security.12 Hurricane Dorian strengthened into a Category 5 storm and hit the Bahamas—the fifth such storm in the past four years, and the one with the second-highest sustained wind speeds among all Atlantic hurricanes—and continued toward the American South.13 14 Trump canceled a state visit to Poland in order to monitor the storm and “ensure that all resources of the federal government are focused on the arriving storm,” traveled by Marine One helicopter from Camp David to one of his properties in Virginia, golfed twice, and tweeted, “A Category 5 is something that I don’t know that I’ve even heard the term.”15 16 17 During their official state visit, Mike and Karen Pence stayed at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland; following criticism, an aide explained that the vice president’s family was originally from Doonbeg, and that the couple chose to stay at the hotel at the president’s “suggestion.”18 The Trump Administration announced that children of some service members living overseas would no longer automatically qualify as American citizens, and it was reported that Citizenship and Immigration Services now permits its officers to use fake social media profiles to screen people applying to enter the country.19 20 India finalized a list effectively stripping 1.9 million people of citizenship in Assam, the state with the second-highest population of Muslims, in an ongoing campaign against what it says is a decades-long tide of illegal immigration from Bangladesh.21 The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would honor Indian prime minister Narendra Modi for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a program that promotes a cleaner India.22

One hundred and twenty coffins were discovered beneath a housing complex in Tampa, Florida.23 It was reported that Jerry Falwell Jr.—one of the first evangelical leaders to announce support for Trump and who had previously lent $1.8 million to a pool boy he met in Miami Beach—approved a real estate deal that transferred a $2 million property from his nonprofit Christian university to his and his wife’s then-23-year-old fitness trainer.24 25 The French town Bourg-en-Bresse was fined 90,000 euros for flouting gender-parity rules by appointing too many women to management positions.26 In Insjön, Sweden, two people wearing rubber pig masks and shirts that said “King” and “Queen” pointed lasers at children who were playing Pokémon Go and had sex by the town’s waterwheel, which caused a traffic jam.27 Following permission from Queen Elizabeth II, U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson prorogued Parliament, drastically reducing the amount of time lawmakers would have to prepare for Brexit.28 After surrounding a house in West Jordan, Utah, in an hours-long standoff, police officers ascertained that the suspect was not at home; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department fired an officer after determining that he had faked being attacked by a sniper.29 30 A security guard at a gas station in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was attacked by a man brandishing a didgeridoo.31 A new species of bloodsucking leech was identified near Washington, D.C.32Cameron French

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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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Out of sight on Leros, the island of the damned

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Reflections on harm in language and the trouble with Whitman

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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.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

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

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

A solid-gold toilet named “America” was stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire, England.

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