Weekly Review — August 12, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Police in Missouri kill an unarmed teenager, the U.S. government expands its terrorist database, and Justin Bieber saves a Russian fisherman

Babylonian LionFighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) executed at least 500 members of Iraq’s Kurdish-speaking Yazidi minority, and the country’s human rights minister reported that an unspecified number had been buried alive in mass graves in and near the northwestern town of Sinjar. At least 520 Yazidi girls and women were reported kidnapped by ISIL, whose fighters were reportedly using them as human shields and for sex. “[They] say they are taking them to paradise,” said a Yazidi parliamentarian. U.S. planes delivered 6,822 gallons of water to Yazidis who were besieged on the Sinjar mountains, and dropped at least two 500-pound bombs on ISIL fighters advancing toward Erbil, the Kurdish capital. “We are promised heaven,” said one ISIL fighter. “Do you think death will stop us?”[1][2][3][4][5][6] In Baghdad, President Fouad Massoum nominated the deputy speaker of parliament, Haider al-Ibadi, to replace Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whom John Kerry had criticized for his failure to form a coalition with the minority Sunnis.[7] The World Health Organization announced the 961st death from an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa this year, and two American physicians who had contracted the disease in Liberia and had been flown to the United States in a chartered Gulfstream jet were responding positively to an experimental treatment.[8][9][10][11] In Cairo, Israel withdrew from truce negotiations with Palestinians after a 72-hour ceasefire ended when two rockets launched from Gaza landed in Israel then agreed to return to talks if a new ceasefire held. “Our demands are purely humanitarian and need no negotiations,” said a Hamas spokesman, “because it is the right of human beings to live.”[12][13] In Ferguson, Missouri, an unarmed black 18-year-old named Michael Brown who was on his way to visit his grandmother was fatally shot by police. “He put his arms up to let them know that he was compliant,” said witness Piaget Crenshaw, “and they shot him twice more.”[14][15]

Leaked classified documents revealed that the U.S. government’s no-fly list is now 47,000 names long, and that more than 40 percent of the 680,000 names contained in the U.S. Terrorist Screening Database, which is shared with law enforcement, private contractors, and foreign governments, are of people with “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.”[16] A lawyer for Edward Snowden announced that Russia had granted her client three more years of residency in the country, and a Milwaukee Internet-security company announced that a group of Russian hackers were using a stolen database of 1.2 billion usernames and passwords to post advertisements on social media.[17][18] In response to Western economic sanctions, Russia banned imports of American and European food products.[19] In the Yakutia Republic of Siberia, a bear was scared off from attacking a fisherman when his cell phone began to play Justin Bieber’s “Baby.”[20] Authorities in Racine, Wisconsin, brought murder charges against a 15-year-old boy who had posted on the online music-sharing service SoundCloud a rap in which he appeared to take credit for the shooting of a 19-year-old man.[21] Police in Beavercreek, Ohio, killed a 22-year-old man who was holding a pellet gun on sale at Walmart.[22] In Colorado, a nine-year-old handed a gun to a five-year-old, who used it to shoot a three-year-old in the chest.[23]

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In Fremont, California, a petition to ban a high school sex-education textbook that includes information on bondage and vibrators garnered at least 2,265 signatures.[24] Malaysian police were seeking fifteen people who appeared in an online video of the Malaysia-International Nude Sports Games 2014 Extravaganza, and Spanish police fined six Swiss tourists conducting an orgy in the back of a moving van for not wearing their seatbelts.[25][26][27] Wikipedia continued to refuse to remove photographs by a British photographer who gave his camera to monkeys to take selfies, claiming that he could not own the copyright since he did not take the picture. “The monkey was my assistant,” said the photographer, “and I had my assistant press the button.”[28] In Norway, arctic reindeer sought refuge from the summer heat in an automobile tunnel, and a man crashed his car after a wasp stung him in the crotch.[29][30] At a zoo in Crimea, a foal named Telegraph was born to a zebra and a donkey. “Such things don’t happen,” said a spokeswoman for a zoo in Moscow, “in civilized zoos.”[31]

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Lives by Omission

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“One of the peculiar things about economic inequality is that the people who are most articulate about it are not poor, while the poor themselves have said little, at least in print, about their situation.”
Photograph © Reuters/Brendan McDermid
“It would be nice to get through this review without recourse to the term ‘writer’s writer.’ The thing is, in the case of Joy Williams, I have seen the cliché made flesh.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
“Miniatures originated in Persia and were brought to the Indian subcontinent when the Mughals conquered it in the sixteenth century. They could take on almost any subject: landscapes or portraits; stories of love, war, or play.”
Painting by by Imran Qureshi.
“The business of being a country veterinarian is increasingly precarious. The heartland has been emptying of large-animal vets for at least two decades, as agribusiness changed the employment picture and people left the region.”
Photograph by Lance Rosenfield
“Rosie and her husband had burned through their small savings in the first few months after she lost her job. Now their family of five relied on his minimum-wage paychecks, plus Rosie’s unemployment and food stamps, which, combined, brought them to around $2,000 per month, just above the poverty line.”
Illustrations by Taylor Callery

Percentage of Americans who can correctly name the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court:


Peak happiness was observed at a per capita GDP of $36,000.

Doctors Without Borders withdrew from the Afghan city of Kunduz after a U.S.-led airstrike destroyed one of the organization’s hospitals, killing 22 people.

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Subways Are for Sleeping


“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

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