[Weekly Review] | January 28, 2014, by Jesse Barron | Harper's Magazine

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Photographic evidence of war crimes in Syria, ominous Ukrainian texting, and a South Korean tower of jawbones

Babylonian LionThe British law firm Carter-Ruck released ten images from a trove of 55,000 photographs, most of them smuggled out of the country by a Syrian military-police photographer, that purportedly show the dead bodies of more than 11,000 Syrians killed while in government custody. In an accompanying report that was funded by the government of Qatar, a team of international legal and forensic experts asserted that the photographic evidence would support war-crimes findings against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. “It is very rare,” said David Crane, the human rights lawyer who indicted Charles Taylor, “to have this kind of government-backed, industrial, machinelike, systematic torture and killing.” Syria’s justice ministry disputed the authenticity of the photographs. “[Any expert] could easily find out that these pictures are fake,” said the ministry. “They have no relation to prisoners or detainees in Syrian prisons.”[1][2][3][4][5][6] In Montreux, Switzerland, where delegates from Syria and the United Nations met to broker an accord to end the country’s civil war, Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem refused requests by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to curtail a long speech in which he compared the West’s arming of Syrian rebels to the September, 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “You live in New York,” said Moallem. “I live in Syria.”[7][8][9] Cell-phone customers in the vicinity of fighting during demonstrations in Kiev against the government of Viktor Yanukovich received text messages reading “Dear Subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance,” and protesters carried through the capital an open casket containing the body of a 25-year-old who died after being shot in the heart by a sniper.[10][11][12] Two white doves released over St. Peter’s Square by children standing with Pope Francis were attacked by a seagull and a crow.[13]

The parliament of Morocco amended Article 475 of the country’s penal code, which had allowed those who committed rape against a minor to avoid prosecution by marrying the victim; Indian police reported that the village council in Subalpur, West Bengal, had ordered the gang rape of a 20-year-old woman who failed to pay them a $400 fine for her romantic involvement with a man from a different religion; an Indian man filed a suit demanding that his son, who had married outside his caste, pay a royalty of $160 each time he used the family name; and a Hong Kong property tycoon doubled to $120 million the reward he is offering to any man who can marry his daughter, who married her female partner in Paris in 2012. “I don’t think my dad’s offering of any amount of money,” she said, “would be able to attract a man I would find attractive.”[14][15][16][17][18][19] A Brazilian race-car driver on trial for mail fraud in Florida asked the judge to allow as evidence a sex tape he had made with his wife, which he said would prove that their marriage had not been for a green card.[20] In Miami, singer Justin Bieber was stopped for drag-racing a yellow Lamborghini while drunk. “I ain’t got no fucking weapons,” Bieber told the officer, who arrested him. “Memo to Justin Bieber,” tweeted Stephen King. “For the young celeb, life is a banquet of free food. What they don’t tell you is that you are often the last course.”[21][22][23] An 18-year-old Florida high school senior who was expelled for making pornographic videos to assist his mother financially was allowed to return to classes. “I think he’s the most awesome person in the world,” said his mother.[24] A London design team announced its intention to release an app for Google Glass that would allow users to look at themselves, rather than their partners, during sex.[25][26]


The Pentagon announced that it would allow soldiers to grow beards for religious reasons, and a South Korean plastic surgeon was fined $3,171 for displaying in two custom-built glass towers the jawbones he had removed from patients.[27][28] In Belgium, where clubbers were getting high on Nintendo, a man named Titus Clarysse, whom a judge had fined €1,650 for failure to pay some 100 restaurant tabs over a five-year period, was found dead in his apartment. “Curse him? Maybe,” said the head of a local restaurant association. “But kill him?”[29][30] Oxfam released a report showing that the richest 85 people in the world own as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion combined.[31] OccupyWallSt.org released sample dialogues provided by Walmart to its store managers in order to help them deal with employee inquiries about labor unions. “Well that’s a good question LaTonya,” says a fictional employee in one of the dialogues. “Our company doesn’t feel that associates should have to spend their hard earned money to have someone represent them.”[32] In Manitowoc, Wisconsin, a 56-year-old newspaper deliveryman pedaling a tricycle was struck by a 20-year-old driver and remained stuck in the car’s windshield until the driver reached his residence. “I turned to him and said, ‘Hello, how do you do? I’m the guy you hit on the bicycle,’” said the deliveryman. “He just continued driving on down the road.”[33]

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