[Weekly Review] | November 19, 2013, by Jeremy Keehn | Harper's Magazine

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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review


Casualty counts and corruption in the Philippines, protest and repression in Russia, and the usual news from Toronto

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

In the Philippines, casualty estimates for Typhoon Haiyan were revised from 10,000 deaths to 3,976, and the official who provided the initial estimate was fired. As relief agencies struggled to get aid to remote areas, authorities ran temporarily out of body bags, thousands of people ransacked a rice warehouse on Leyte Island, the country’s energy minister pledged to restore electricity to all regions by Christmas Eve, and fears of corruption prompted Filipino media to advise emigrants to send funds to the Red Cross rather than government bank accounts. “I’m not going to mince words,” said the editor of Filipino Migrant News. “We would like every cent to reach those poor people.”[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] Bangladeshi garment-factory workers negotiated a 77-percent wage increase, to $68 per month, making their pay still the lowest for garment workers in the world.[9] An Ohio Walmart started a food drive for employees who couldn’t afford Thanksgiving dinner, scores of tornadoes struck the Midwestern United States, and United Nations delegates met in Warsaw to begin negotiating a new climate treaty. “We can stop this madness right now,” said a Filipino envoy, who declared that he would fast at the conference until “a meaningful outcome is in sight.”[10][11][12] Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed construction of 24,000 settler homes in the occupied territories, and the Fourth Committee of the U.N. General Assembly passed nine resolutions condemning Israel. “C’est un peu trop, non?” said an interpreter who was unaware her microphone was on. “There’s other really bad shit happening.” Netanyahu offered the woman a job, and entomologists warned of the approaching extinction of the Israeli prickly pear.[13][14][15][16] In Syria, where government forces have won a series of victories in recent weeks, a jihadist antigovernment faction accidentally beheaded an allied rebel fighter, and in Iraq a bomb killed 35 people attending a play about the death of Imam Hussein. “Those who were acting out the death,” said a witness, “had died in reality.”[17][18][19]

President Barack Obama apologized for “fumbling” the rollout of his health care reforms and introduced new rules allowing Americans to remain on insurance plans that companies had cancelled because they didn’t meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act. “It’s easy,” said an official from a state where few plans had been cancelled, “so I like it.”[20][21][22] The Harrisburg Patriot-News retracted a November 1863 report likening the Gettysburg Address to a “veil of oblivion.”[23] A U.S. Navy drone crashed into a U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser, whistleblowers told the U.S. Senate that Secret Service agents had engaged in sexual impropriety in 17 countries in recent years, and a former employee sued dating website Ashley Madison for injuries sustained while composing fake profiles to attract Brazilian men.[24][25][26] Norway challenged the world to a game of chess.[27] One World Trade Center was certified as the tallest building in the United States, and Canadian researchers held a quantum-memory system stable at room temperature for 39 minutes, breaking the previous record of 25 seconds. “Measurement normally introduces noise,” said former quantum-memory record holder Thaddeus Ladd.[28][29] A poll found a hypothetical 2016 presidential election between Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton to be a virtual dead heat, and American diners lamented a knish shortage following a fire at the world’s largest knish factory. “Get a life,” said a New York City chef. “It’s just a knish.”[30][31]


In Russia, which won a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, artist Petr Pavlensky was charged with hooliganism for nailing his scrotum to Red Square to protest police repression, and Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova turned up in a Siberian prison hospital following a transfer during which her whereabouts were unknown for 26 days. “It took 15 days,” said her husband, “for Dostoevsky to make a similar distance in horse-driven carts.”[32][33] Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing died at 94.[34] China relaxed its one-child policy, and the City of San Francisco helped a five-year-old boy whose leukemia was in remission to become “Batkid” for a day, staging several crimes for him to foil. “Wondering how many 1000s of SF kids living off SNAP/FoodStamps could have been fed from the $$,” tweeted city supervisor Eric Mar.[35][36] The City of Vancouver was eliminating its doorknobs, and the City of Toronto stripped mayor Rob Ford of most of his powers following the release of police reports detailing investigations into his alleged drug abuse, solicitation of prostitution, and sexual harassment of a policy adviser. “It says I wanted to eat her pussy,” said Ford, who retained lawyer George Rust D’Eye and told Fox News he hoped to become prime minister of Canada. “I’ve got more than enough to eat at home, thank you very much.”[37][38][39][40] Japanese women were hunting more wild pig, Quebec physiologists discovered that snakes flick their tongues not just to smell but to taste, and German biologists publishing in the journal PNAS identified the smell receptors that make zebrafish averse to cadaverine.[41][42][43] In Cumbria, coroners still couldn’t explain how an Englishman had died after opening Pandora’s box.[44][45]

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