Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, displacing 600,000 people across the country and killing at least 10,000* on the central island of Leyte. Meteorologists speculated that the storm would surpass Super Typhoon Tip, which struck Japan in 1979, as the most powerful cyclone on record, with waves surging to 45 feet and gusts reaching up to 235 miles per hour. In Leyte’s capital, Tacloban, survivors dismantled ATMs and ransacked stores, corpses landed in trees and along roads, and hundreds of people gathered at the airport, which had been flattened. “All systems, all vestiges of modern living — communications, power, water — all are down.” said the Philippines’ interior secretary. “The water was as high as a coconut tree,” said bicycle-taxi driver Sandy Torotoro. “I was swept away by the rampaging water with logs, trees, and our house.” Mount Sinabung erupted six times, causing 2,500 Sumatran villagers to be evacuated and local chili prices to more than double. Switzerland’s Institute of Radiation Physics found evidence that Yasir Arafat was poisoned with radioactive polonium. “I can’t accuse anyone,” said Arafat’s widow, “but how many countries have an atomic reactor that can produce polonium?” UNESCO suspended the voting rights of Israel and the United States, both of which stopped paying dues after Palestine became a member in 2011, and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized a potential agreement by China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to reduce sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran’s agreement not to acquire or develop a nuclear weapon. “I understand the Iranians are walking around very satisfied in Geneva,” said Netanyahu. “They got everything and paid nothing.” The next day, talks ended after France withdrew from what its foreign minister called an Iranian “con game.” “We are not blind,” said U.S. secretary of state John Kerry, “and I don’t think we’re stupid.”
[*] Casualty figures were later revised significantly downward.
In Cairo, where Kerry met with Egyptian officials to discuss the country’s progress toward amending its constitution and holding national elections, the trial of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and 14 other Muslim Brotherhood members for inciting the murder of protesters was adjourned until January. “There are questions we have,” said Kerry, “here and there about one thing or another.” Following a series of defeats in their 20-month rebellion against the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than 1,300 members of the M23 rebel faction surrendered to Ugandan forces, while others set fire to their arsenals and fled into the forest. The group’s leader announced that it would seek a settlement with the government of Joseph Kabila, which refused to sign a deal negotiated subsequently in Entebbe after disagreeing with the mediator over whether it would be called a declaration or an accord. The European Court of Justice declared persecution for homosexuality to be grounds for asylum, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point held its first gay wedding, and the Senate passed a bill outlawing workplace discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity, prompting the American Family Association to decry the influence of “Big Gay.” Former public advocate Bill de Blasio (D.) won the New York City mayoral election by a margin of 73 percent to 24 percent over former Manhattan Transportation Authority chairman Joe Lhota, and U.S. vice president Joe Biden phoned his congratulations to a man named Marty Walsh for winning Boston’s mayoral race, then congratulated him on not being mayor when he realized he had the wrong Marty Walsh. Toronto mayor Rob Ford admitted that he had smoked crack cocaine while in “one of my drunken stupors,” said he was “extremely, extremely inebriated” in video footage that surfaced in which he ranted at length about killing someone, and indicated that he would run for reelection in 2014. “Robbie’s not a drug addict. I know, because I’m a former addict,” said his sister. “He has a problem,” said his mother, “a huge weight problem.”
Starfish were found to be suffering from star wasting disease, German veterinarians built a Lego-wheel prosthetic for a tortoise amputee, and a wallaby rescued at a tennis court in London died during an operation to mend its broken foot. “Surgery always comes with risks,” said the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “Especially for wallabies.” It was reported that a Lordsburg, New Mexico, man whom police had perceived to be clenching his buttocks suspiciously upon exiting a Walmart had filed a lawsuit after officers brought him to a medical center where he was anally probed twice and given three enemas and a colonoscopy — all of which he was billed for — then released him without charging him for a crime. New Hampshire’s chief justices debated the viability of the vanity license plates COPSLIE and COPS R GR8. Young Lee, a co-founder of the frozen-yogurt chain Pinkberry, was convicted of beating a homeless man with a tire iron after the man flashed his tattoo of a stick-figure couple having sex, and a Georgia couple were arrested for having sex in a pickup truck in the parking lot of a Waffle House. “When the female finally got dressed,” wrote the arresting officer, “she attempted to put a cheese burger on her foot as if it were a sandal.” After two airplanes carrying skydivers collided, nine passengers hastened their jumps, one pilot ejected, and the other landed his plane safely at Richard I. Bong airport in Superior, Wisconsin. “The wing over our head was gone, so we just left,” said one of the divers. “We do this all the time.”
Sign up and get the Weekly Review delivered to your inbox every Tuesday morning.