Weekly Review — December 3, 2019, 11:52 am

Weekly Review

Iraq’s prime minister resigned; Jair Bolsonaro blamed Leonardo DiCaprio for fires in the Amazon; a Maine man died of injuries sustained at his home after a handgun that was booby-trapped to fire upon intruders went off

The Iraqi parliament approved Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s resignation during a session held in Baghdad in which it also recommended the resignation of the prime minister’s chief of staff and arranged for a temporary caretaker government.1 The move follows the deadliest period yet of the antigovernment protests that have raged since October, with 45 demonstrators fatally shot by security forces; on the same day, protestors torched the Iranian consulate to oppose to Tehran’s influence in Iraqi affairs.2 U.N. secretary-general António Guterres denounced Iraqi army forces for their use of live ammunition and a lack of restraint in the mainly Shiite southern cities of Nasiriya and Najaf, centers of much of the violence.3 Amid an investigation into the death of a prominent journalist—who was investigating possible corruption in the Maltese government and was killed by a car bomb in October 2017—Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, said that he will resign in mid-January.4 Eight thousand people gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was recently indicted on bribery, fraud, and breach of trust charges, and to protest the alleged conduct of the state prosecutor in the lead-up to the indictment; days later, five thousand demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square to demand the resignation of Netanyahu, who one protestor said was “the most cowardly prime minister we’ve ever had.”5 6 Luis Lacalle Pou of the center-right National Party won the Uruguayan presidential election after the candidate of the liberal coalition, which has governed Uruguay for 15 years, conceded defeat.7 Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro said that Leonardo DiCaprio had financed the burning of the Amazon rainforest.8

Twenty-eight-year-old Usman Khan, who was sentenced in 2012 to 16 years in prison for his role in planning a terrorist training facility but who was released in 2018, was shot dead by the police after he threatened to detonate a hoax explosive device and went on a knife-wielding rampage near the London Bridge that left two dead and three injured; a convicted murderer on day release, a man carrying a fire extinguisher, and a Polish chef with a narwhal tusk were among the bystanders who helped end the attack, for which the Islamic State claimed credit.9 10 11 12 An eight-foot minke whale washed ashore on the Thames, the third beaching of a dead whale on the river in two months.13 In The Hague, a man stabbed three teenagers in a crowd of Black Friday shoppers.14 A woman in Texas was killed in what was only the United States’s fifth documented deadly hog attack in nearly two hundred years.15 A man was arrested for dumping buckets of liquefied fecal matter on several victims in a series of attacks at or near two Toronto universities, and a package marked “highly contagious” that forced the evacuation of a Washington State movie theater showing Frozen 2 was confirmed by police examiners to be a urine sample.16 17 In Van Buren, Maine, a man died of injuries sustained at his home after a handgun that was booby-trapped to fire upon intruders went off.18 After police officers in Utah found a 75-year-old woman dead during a routine welfare check at a retirement home, they also discovered her husband’s body in a freezer, where it may have been stored for as many as 11 years.19 A regulation took effect in China that requires people to have their faces scanned when registering new mobile phone services, complementing the country’s effort to create a national database that compiles fiscal and governmental information to give a rating to each citizen.20 A Florida woman’s dog died while in the care of an employee of the dog-walking app Wag, at least the 15th dog Wag has lost or killed since 2015.21

President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan measure that, for the first time, makes certain acts of animal cruelty, such as animal crushing, a federal crime.22 Starbucks fired a barista who, on Thanksgiving, printed the word pig on five drinks for police officers.23 Sonny Perdue, who as agriculture secretary has overseen massive factory-farming deregulation and reduced oversight of animal-welfare abuse, said changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (changes that, according to a new study, will cause 3.7 million Americans to lose food subsidies) will “restore the dignity of work.”24 The Ohio legislature introduced a bill that could imprison doctors who don’t attempt to reimplant ectopic pregnancies, a procedure that is not medically possible.25 On an unannounced holiday trip to Afghanistan—Trump’s first—he served a meal to U.S. troops, lamented being pulled away from his own “gorgeous piece of turkey” for photos, announced that the United States and the Taliban have been engaged in peace talks, and insisted that the Taliban wants to make a deal to end the 18-year war; the statement surprised Taliban leaders, as Trump had called off talks in September.26 27 A Texas teacher who was fired after asking Trump on Twitter to remove undocumented Mexicans from her school won an appeal to get her job back; a fake university set up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to entrap immigrants snared another 90 students, bringing the total to 250; and ICE deported to Honduras a worker who was injured in the partial collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, where the man had worked construction for 18 years.28 29 30 The German Defense Ministry posted an image of a Nazi-era uniform on Instagram as an example of retro, haute-couture fashion.31 A businessman spent $600,000 on Nazi memorabilia at a Munich auction because “he did not want these objects to fall into the wrong hands.”32Justin Stewart

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On a sunny July day in 2018, Alexis Stern was sitting behind the wheel of the red Ford Fusion her parents had given her the previous year when she’d learned to drive. Robbie Olsen, the boy she’d recently started dating, was in the passenger seat. They were in the kind of high spirits unique to teenagers on summer vacation with nothing much to do and nowhere in particular to go. They were about to take a drive, maybe get some food, when Stern’s phone buzzed. It was the police. An officer with the local department told her to come down to the station immediately. She had no idea what the cops might want with her. “I was like, am I going to get arrested?” she said.

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I had been in Domoni—an ancient, ramshackle trading town on the volcanic island of Anjouan—for only a few summer days in 2018 when Onzardine Attoumane, a local English teacher, offered to show me around the medina. Already I had gotten lost several times trying to navigate the dozens of narrow, seemingly indistinguishable alleyways that zigzagged around the old town’s crumbling, lava-rock homes. But Onzardine had grown up in Domoni and was intimately familiar with its contours.

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This is what I feared, that she would speak about the news . . . about how her father always said that the news exists so it can disappear, this is the point of news, whatever story, wherever it is happening. We depend on the news to disappear . . .
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On the evening of May 8, just after eight o’clock, Kate Valk stepped onstage and faced the audience. The little playhouse was packed with hardcore fans, theater people and artists, but Kate was performing, most of all, for one person, hidden among them, a small, fine-boned, black-clad woman, her blond-gray hair up in a clip, who smiled, laughed, and nodded along with every word, swaying to the music and mirroring the emotions of the performers while whispering into the ear of the tall, bearded fellow who sat beside her madly scribbling notes. The woman was Elizabeth LeCompte—known to all as Liz—the director of the Wooster Group, watching the first open performance of the company’s new piece, Since I Can Remember.

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In the spring of 2018, Tequila Johnson, an African-American administrator at Tennessee State University, led a mass voter-registration drive organized by a coalition of activist groups called the Tennessee Black Voter Project. Turnout in Tennessee regularly ranks near the bottom among U.S. states, just ahead of Texas. At the time, only 65 percent of the state’s voting-age population was registered to vote, the shortfall largely among black and low-income citizens. “The African-American community has been shut out of the process, and voter suppression has really widened that gap,” Johnson told me. “I felt I had to do something.”

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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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