[Weekly Review] | November 5, 2013, by Jacob Z. Gross | Harper's Magazine

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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review


Syria finishes destroying its chemical-weapons facilities, the United States kills the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, and Axe body spray fells eight New York City students

An American Mastiff.

An American Mastiff.

Syria finished destroying its chemical-weapons production and mixing facilities, and the World Health Organization confirmed the country’s first polio cases since 1999 and warned that the rapid migration prompted by its civil war would likely cause the disease to spread.[1][2] A United Nations official announced plans to convert Jordan’s largest camp for Syrian refugees into a fully functioning city. “At the beginning we counted our exile in months,” said Khaled Zoabi, a refugee interviewed at a men’s social club. “Now maybe decades.”[3] In Beijing, three men suspected of being Xinjian separatists crashed an SUV outside the gates to the Forbidden City, killing themselves and two tourists, and in North Waziristan an American drone strike killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban. “Draconian prevention of violent terrorist attacks is part of the mission in maintaining order,” said Communist Party secretary Guo Jinlong. “Every drop of Hakimullah’s blood will turn into a suicide bomber,” said a Taliban spokesman.[4][5][6] An Italian newspaper reported that Russia had given world leaders attending the G20 summit in St. Petersburg earlier this autumn USB drives and mobile-phone chargers designed to download their communications.[7] U.S. National Security Agency director Keith Anderson claimed that European spy agencies had collected and shared with the NSA the phone records of millions of European citizens. “I am persuaded,” said Russia’s foreign minister, “that everyone knew everything.”[8][9] Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden published a “Manifesto for the Truth” in a German newsmagazine and started a tech-support job at a Russian Internet company.[10][11] Forbes magazine named Vladimir Putin the most powerful person in the world.[12]

The judges presiding over the trials for inciting deadly violence of deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi and other members of the Muslim Brotherhood stepped down after state security agencies refused to allow the defendants in the courtroom.[13] A federal appeals court blocked an order requiring an independent monitor to oversee the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program and removed from the case the judge who had ruled that the program violated the civil rights of minorities.[14] Students at Brown University booed New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly off the stage before he could begin a lecture on proactive policing.[15] Nevada assemblyman Jim Wheeler apologized to anyone offended by his assertion that he would vote to institute slavery if asked to do so by his constituents. “That’s what a republic is about,” said Wheeler. “You can live with the consequences.”[16] A 23-year-old man carrying an assault rifle shot and killed a behavior-detection officer for the Transportation Security Administration at the Los Angeles International Airport, and a woman was arrested for attempting to smuggle three pumpkins filled with cocaine into Montreal from Haiti.[17][18] Trick-or-treaters in Casper, Wyoming, discovered condoms among their candy.[19] Irwindale, California, filed a complaint against a hot-sauce factory whose odor it claimed was causing headaches, Dell offered replacement laptops to customers who had complained that their computers smelled of cat urine, and emergency crews hospitalized eight New York City students after responding to a complaint of hazardous fumes that turned out to have been from another student’s Axe body spray.[20][21][22][23]


In Siberia, a member of the punk band Pussy Riot went missing while being transferred between penal colonies.[24] Edward Bruce Johnson was arrested in Florida after smoking a crack pipe filled with Cialis.[25] The journal Sex Roles published a study finding that both men and women spend more time looking at women’s bodies than at their faces.[26] The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services removed a photograph of a woman’s face from the welcome page for HealthCare.gov, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized before Congress for the flawed launch of the website but said that it was nevertheless functional. “The website never crashed,” said Sebelius, at roughly the same time site users began receiving a message telling them it was down.[27][28] The Federal Aviation Administration revised its rules to allow airplane passengers to use electronic devices during takeoff and landing, a California motorist was given a ticket for driving while wearing Google Glass, and an Arizona truck driver who struck a police officer was reported to have been viewing photographs of prostitutes on his cell phone.[29][30][31] A third of Swedish children responding to a survey said their parents pay too much attention to their smartphones, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that parents limit teenagers’ access to smartphones in their bedrooms. “If you have a 14-year-old boy and he has an Internet connection in his bedroom, he is looking at pornography,” said the policy’s lead author.[32][33] An Ohio grand jury declined to press charges against a couple whose public sex act was photographed and posted on social media. “We should behave,” said the county prosecutor, “as if our family is always watching.”[34]

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