Weekly Review — December 17, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

The Ukrainian protests rage on, Nelson Mandela is buried, and China sends a Jade Rabbit into the Bay of Rainbows

Harper's Magazine, June 1883In Kiev, a third week of protests began over the failure by Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich to enter into political and trade agreements with the European Union, and to avoid economic rapprochement with Russia. An estimated 200,000 demonstrators gathered in Independence Square to argue for greater engagement with Europe, tens of thousands of anti-E.U. protesters were bussed into nearby European Square, the European Union withdrew from negotiations with the Ukrainian government, and riot police dismantled barricades set up by protesters, then built new ones to separate the opposing factions. “On this side of our ice wall you have Yanukovich’s regime of slavery and corruption,” said a plumber. “On our side, life is beautiful.” “We have a lot of bread and lemons,” said a college student.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] A riot took place in Singapore for the first time since 1969, and in Thailand, where former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was charged with murder, wealthy citizens were joining rallies against the government of Yingluck Shinawatra, whose supporters are largely rural and poor. “I’m not really for democracy,” said energy-drink tycoon Petch Osathanugrah.[9][10][11][12] North Korea executed an uncle of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and accused him of distributing pornography, failing to clap with sufficient enthusiasm, and sabotaging a monument by having it erected in the shade. “Jang pretended to uphold the party and leader,” said the state-run Korean Central News Agency, “but was engrossed in such factional acts as dreaming different dreams.”[13][14][15][16] At a memorial for former South African president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, a sign-language interpreter translated 17 speeches using random hand gestures. “I had a breakdown,” he said. “I see angels come from sky to the ground.” Mandela’s body was transported to his childhood village of Qunu and laid to rest.[17][18][19]

Residents of Newtown, Connecticut, chose not to hold a public ceremony to commemorate the one-year anniversary of a shooting that killed 20 children and seven adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “If we build it, they will come,” said Newtown first selectman E. Patricia Llodra. “So we have to not build it.”[20][21] Students at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado, held a candlelight vigil for Claire Davis, who was in a coma after being shot in the head by an 18-year-old classmate who subsequently killed himself. [22][23] A Georgia high school student was suspended for a year for hugging his teacher, and a Madison, Wisconsin, business that offered “therapeutic cuddling” for $60 an hour closed after three weeks in operation.[24][25] Chinese hackers were reported to have breached the networks of several European foreign ministries by sending emails advertising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy; France’s senate approved a law allowing officials to monitor citizens’ digital communications in real time; and it was revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency had deployed agents to search for terrorists in the online video game World of Warcraft.[26][27][28] Uruguay became the first country to legalize the cultivation, sale, and consumption of marijuana. “[The decision] relied on rather precarious and unsubstantiated assumptions,” said U.N. International Narcotics Control Board president Raymond Yans. “Tell that old man to stop lying,” said Uruguayan president José Mujica.[29][30][31] The mayor of Bogotá was removed from office over allegations he had mismanaged a shift from privatized garbage collection to a government-run service.[32] Canada Post announced that it would phase out home delivery over the next five years, and apologized for returning a six-year-old’s letter to Santa Claus because he had addressed it to “theNorthPowle.”[33][34]

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Prince Henry of Wales reached the South Pole, and American scientists announced that they had recorded the lowest temperature ever measured on Earth, –137 degrees Fahrenheit, along an East Antarctic plateau.[35][36] Google acquired robots named BigDog, WildCat, Atlas, and Cheetah.[37] Iran announced that it had sent a monkey named Fargam into space, the Jovian moon of Europa was shown to be spouting plumes of water taller than Mount Everest, and China debarked the rover Jade Rabbit onto the moon’s Bay of Rainbows.[38][39][40] Oslo added hot-pink decals reading “poo, piss, toilet paper” to its manhole covers.[41] Paleontologists determined that ichthyosaurs were incapable of slurping their prey, and that Edmontosaurus regalis had a cock-like comb. “There is a long and sad history of neglect,” said a researcher, “in the study of dinosaur skin.”[42][43] A study led by a physician at Imperial College London posited that Gollum would have defeated Bilbo Baggins in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit had he sunned himself more often or eaten quiche instead of blind fish. “The triumph of good over evil,” the study concluded, “may be assisted to some extent by poor diet and lack of sunlight.”[44]


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