World News Quick Take


Tue, Feb 17, 2015 - Page 7


Poet Philip Levine dies

Philip Levine, a former US poet laureate whose work was vibrantly, angrily and often painfully alive with the sound, smell and sinew of heavy manual labor, died on Saturday last week at his home in Fresno, California. He was 87. The cause was pancreatic cancer. Levine served as poet laureate from 2011 to 2012. He received a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for his collection The Simple Truth and won two National Book Awards — in 1980 for Ashes: Poems New & Old and 1991 for What Work Is. In spare, realistic free verse, Levine explored the subjects that had animated his work for decades: his gritty Detroit childhood; the soul-numbing factory jobs he held as a young person; Spain, where he lived for some time as an adult; and the Spanish anarchists of the 1930s. “A large, ironic Whitman of the industrial heartland” is how the poet Edward Hirsch, writing in the New York Times Book Review, described Levine in 1984.


Scorpion on a plane

A scorpion stung a woman on the hand just before her flight from Los Angeles to Portland took off. Flight 567 was taxiing on the runway on Saturday night last week when the passenger was stung, Alaska Airlines spokesman Cole Cosgrove said. The plane returned to the gate, and the woman was checked by medics. She refused additional medical treatment, but she did not get back on the plane. Meanwhile, flight attendants killed the scorpion and checked overhead compartments for any additional unwanted arachnids. Oregon State University basketball coach Wayne Tinkle told ESPN that the woman was sitting two rows in front of him. “The plane was coming from Mexico before us, and [the scorpion] was on the plane,” Tinkle said. “The woman was a real champ. She acted like it was a mosquito bite. They got it off her, but the needle was stuck.”


Presidential drollery

Being president is not all drone strikes and crisis meetings. A video released on Thursday last week shows President Barack Obama posing in front of the mirror with aviator sunglasses, playing around with a selfie stick and struggling to enunciate “February.” In a skit recorded by BuzzFeed called “things everyone does but doesn’t talk about,” Obama can also be seen blaming himself for making cookies too big to dunk in a glass of milk — “thanks Obama” — and drawing a picture of his wife, Michelle. The president is also captured pretending to score a winning basket, before being interrupted and receiving a quizzical look from comedian Andrew Ilnyckyj posing as a staffer. Obama responds “can’t I live, man?” before declaring “YOLO man” — you only live once.


CDU trounced in Hamburg

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered heavy losses in Hamburg city-state elections on Sunday, where an anti-euro party looked set to enter parliament. The center-left Social Democrats (SPD) easily won the election in their traditional northern stronghold, as expected, after an election campaign fought on local issues. The anti-euro party Alternative for Germany (AFD) won about five percent of the vote according to early exit polls which, if confirmed, would see them narrowly enter their fourth state parliament. Public broadcasters projected the CDU won only about 16 percent, its worst-ever Hamburg result and one of its lowest nationwide, against about 47 percent for the SPD.