Weekly Review — February 25, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Upheaval in Ukraine, yobbery in the United Kingdom, and a historic douche in the United States

A Humbug (Weekly)Violent demonstrations in Kiev resulted in the deaths of dozens of antigovernment protesters, the ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, the release from prison of opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and the passage of a law returning Yanukovych’s 345-acre Mezhyhirya compound along the Dnieper River to state ownership. “It’s like we entered Berlin and seized the Reichstag,” said one of the thousands of Kievans who came to see Mezhyhirya’s golf course and private zoo. Partially incinerated financial records recovered by a diver from a nearby reservoir indicated that Yanukovych had spent $115,000 on a statue of a running boar. “Let him be hanged or hidden away in a place where nobody will find him,” a demonstrator said of Yanukovych, who was suspected to have fled by helicopter to Balaklava.[1][2][3][4] During political demonstrations in Venezuela’s central Carabobo state, Génesis Carmona, a 22-year-old marketing student and former Miss Tourism, was shot in the head by members of a progovernment militia, and Geraldine Moreno Orozco, a 22-year-old cytotechnology student, was shot in the head by national guardsmen. In a broadcast on Venezuelan state television, President Nicolás Maduro, who denied press credentials to seven CNN reporters and ejected three U.S. diplomats from the country, appeared to confuse the distress signal SOS, used in the popular Twitter hashtag #SOSVenezuela, with the Rioplatense Spanish verb sos, meaning “you are.” “¿Sos Venezuela, ah?” said Maduro. “¡Sos gringo!” “This is not how democracies behave,” said U.S. secretary of state John Kerry.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11] A New Flemish Alliance parliamentarian questioned the Belgian prime minister’s choice of a francophone zoo to house a pair of giant pandas. “He was not acting as prime minister of all Belgians,” said the parliamentarian. “The pandas,” said the zoo’s owner, “are Chinese.”[12]

Chevron delivered gift certificates for a large pizza and a two-liter bottle of soda to 100 households in Bobtown, Pennsylvania, following an explosion and five-day-long fire at a fracking well in neighboring Dunkard Township. “We are committed to taking action,” said a letter accompanying the certificates.[13] Cornish bakers sent pasties to flood workers in Somerset, and Welsh fishermen left unable to work by bad weather called for the creation of an emergency fund. “We are on stop,” said seafood distributor Skip Rudder.[14][15] The U.S. Department of Homeland Security denied New Jersey an exception from a federal law requiring that all domestic shipments be delivered by U.S.-flagged vessels, temporarily stranding 40,000 tons of rock salt in Searsport, Maine. “We’re all in the same boat,” said a New Jersey public-works director.[16] The Akan-language interjection tweaa, used to express contempt, was banned from Ghana’s parliament, and U.K. House of Commons speaker John Bercrow called for an end to “yobbery and public-school twittishness” during Questions to the Prime Minister.[17][18] Psychiatrists in Coventry found that preteens who change schools frequently are likelier to exhibit psychosis. “There are areas of darkness we have not explored,” said a British researcher.[19] Neuroscientists at Harvard demonstrated that the movements of an avatar monkey could be controlled by the nerve impulses of a master monkey.[20] It was reported that a Pocatello, Idaho, zoning-board meeting had been moved from the Paradice Conference Room at city hall to a larger venue after more than 100 residents attended to debate the proposed construction of a mosque. “I get very fearful, because I live close to this place,” said the Reverend Jim Jones.[21][22]

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Emirati clerics issued a fatwa prohibiting one-way travel to Mars.[23] Police in Kazakhstan detained seven women protesting a ban on synthetic underwear, biophysicists in Queensland used squeezed light to examine living yeast cells, and archaeologists in Manhattan determined a cylinder of mammal bone to be a nineteenth-century douche.[24][25][26] Workers at Iron Maiden Hog Farm in Kentucky were attempting to inoculate sows against porcine epidemic diarrhea virus by feeding them the ground intestines of piglets who had succumbed to the disease.[27] Clown trade groups noted a decline in membership. “The older clowns,” said Clowns of America International president Clyde D. Scope, “are passing away.”[28][29] Geologists attributed Yellowstone National Park’s high rates of helium-4 emission to accumulations of the gas within Earth’s crust. “You have these old crustal rocks just sitting around,” said one chemist, “giving up all their long-held secrets.”[30] Dozens of elderly relatives separated six decades ago by the division of the Korean Peninsula were reunited at North Korea’s Mount Kumgang resort. “You look old,” said a 93-year-old South Korean father to his 64-year-old North Korean son. “Come give me a hug.”[31] Captive Asian elephants were observed to grasp the genitals of distressed members of their herd in order to console them.[32][33]


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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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