Weekly Review — December 22, 2016, 4:00 pm

Weekly Review

A Turkish police officer kills a Russian ambassador, an asylum seeker drives a truck through a Christmas market, and a 66-year-old albatross named Wisdom lays an egg

HarpersWeb-WeeklyReview-avatar-WCS-bigOfficials in Russia and Turkey announced that they had brokered a deal to end the four-year-long battle over Aleppo between the Syrian Army and antigovernment forces.[1] Syrian president Bashar al-Assad agreed to the evacuation of the last militia-held enclave in the city, and then his forces conducted executions, killing 82 civilians, including 13 children, and robbed and stripped evacuees who were on buses before forcing them back into the city.[2][3][4][5] It was reported that rebel soldiers torched evacuation buses, stranding an estimated 50,000 people in the enclave. “The worst massacre of the war could soon occur,” said an antigovernment leader.[6] Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was fatally shot in the back by an off-duty Turkish police officer during the opening of an art show called “Russia Through Turks’ Eyes,” and Russian president Vladimir Putin canceled plans to attend a play written by a Russian ambassador who had been assassinated in Tehran in 1829.[7] Russia deported an American accused of hacking into U.S. banks and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars, the FBI agreed with the CIA’s finding that Russia interfered with the U.S. election to get Donald Trump elected, and the Electoral College officially elected Trump the president of the United States.[8][9][10] Trump, who once asked whether Putin would become his “new best friend,” said that he did not need daily intelligence briefings because he is “like, a smart person,” and it was reported that three psychiatrists asked President Barack Obama to recommend Trump receive a full neuropsychiatric evaluation for symptoms including “an apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality.”[11][12][13] Trump appointed an avid hunter as Secretary of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would extend permits allowing for the deaths of up to 4,200 bald eagles a year, and a bird in Seattle dropped a fish on a power line.[14][15][16]

In Woods Cross, Utah, an elderly couple died when the lights on their artificial Christmas tree malfunctioned, and in Berlin, a 23-year-old Tunisian asylum seeker drove a truck through a Christmas market selling Thuringian bratwurst, eggnog, and “lovingly crafted accessories,” killing 12 people.[17][18] FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness discovered that it had mistakenly exposed more than 9,600 trainees to ricin, a lethal toxin that causes organ failure.[19] In Siberia, 49 people died after drinking hawthorn-scented bath lotion containing methanol, and 60 people applied to be on a Siberian survival show in which contestants must pay $165,000 to compete and sign a waiver acknowledging that they may be killed or raped.[20][21][22] A survey found that more than half of the residents of the former Soviet Bloc favored a return to an authoritarian government.[23] It was reported that police officers ordered a dog to attack an unarmed, naked man because the man was “clinching his fists and walking towards them,” a New Jersey state trooper was suspended for pulling over young women and asking them out on dates, and the U.K.’s transport secretary doored a cyclist.[24][25][26] A judge in British Columbia ruled that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police acted unlawfully when they arrested a man on suspicion of having heroin in his rectum because a jar of lotion in his car had a finger-sized scoop removed.[27] A five-year-old racehorse named Party Till Dawn tested positive for methamphetamine.[28]

In Austin, a woman was arrested for attempting to set fire to her home because her roommate was planning a party to which she was not invited, and in Achram, Nepal, a 15-year-old girl suffocated to death after she lit a fire in the small hut to which she had been banished for menstruating.[29][30] A 66-year-old albatross named Wisdom laid an egg.[31] Two female employees at a sex shop in San Bernardino fought off an armed robber by hurling dildos at him; an algebra teacher in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, was reprimanded for requiring that his 14-year-old students solve for the time it would take to send a nude photo; and two high-school freshmen in Omaha were charged with lewd conduct for giving their teacher turnovers frosted with their semen, which she then unknowingly ate.[32][33] Officials in New York City argued with state employees for more than 24 hours over which government should take possession of a one-antlered deer that later died of stress in Harlem, and Cuba offered to pay off its $276 million debt to the Czech Republic in bottles of rum.[34][35] The Nigerian Customs Service confiscated more than 2 tons of plastic rice from a smuggler who planned to sell it during the holiday season, a former UPS worker was arrested for leading a package-theft ring, and a family in Long Island that had ordered a toy plane as a Christmas present received a parcel containing a semi-automatic rifle and an Arizona man’s concealed-weapons permit. “It was not,” said the father, “Fisher-Price.”[36][37][38]

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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Ratio of the average cost of a gallon of gas in Britain last September to that of a gallon of Starbucks coffee:

1:4

The faculty of embarrassment was located in the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex by neurologists who made brain-damaged subjects sing along to “My Girl” and then listen to their own singing played back without musical accompaniment.

Greece evacuated 72,000 people from the town of Thessaloniki while an undetonated World War II–era bomb was excavated from beneath a gas station.

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