[Weekly Review] | April 1, 2014, by Jeremy Keehn | Harper's Magazine

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Ennui sets into the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Guinea combats Ebola, and the distinctive arson of Cameo Crispi 

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

The Democratic Republic of Congo declared three days of mourning for 251 people who died when a boat built for 80 capsized on Lake Albert en route from Uganda; rescue dogs in Snohomish County, Washington, were granted a two-day break from their search for victims of a March 22 landslide that had left 24 dead and 30 missing; and 10 airplanes, 11 ships, and the U.S. Navy’s Towed Pinger Locator were enlisted to search 1,150 miles west of Perth for debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. French, Japanese, and Thai satellites provided images of more than 300 pieces of flotsam around the Indian Ocean’s Broken Ridge, while China, India, and Malaysia were accused of hiding or fuzzing radar and satellite data in order to conceal their respective technological capabilities. Orange debris spotted by planes passing over the search area turned out to be fishing equipment. “We’re just mowing the lawn,” said U.S. Navy pilot Kyle Atakturk.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] The Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the Istanbul mayoral election and 46 percent of the nationwide vote in local elections across Turkey, and prime minister and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered a ban on YouTube after recordings posted to the site revealed high-level officials discussing options for military intervention in Syria, including the possibility of staging a Syrian attack on Turkey. “We will enter into their caves,” said Erdogan of the leakers. “They will pay and account for their deeds.”[8][9][10][11] American climatologists determined that even a small regional nuclear war could cause global famine, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that organic matter frozen in Arctic soil prior to the dawn of civilization was now melting and decaying, further accelerating global warming. “I’m worried,” said Princeton geoscientist Michael Oppenheimer.[12][13] In an effort to combat an Ebola outbreak that has killed at least 78 people, the government of Guinea banned bat soup.[14][15]

Ukraine, which supplies 80 percent of Crimea’s electricity and water, claimed that power cutoffs to the region in the week following its annexation by Russia were due to maintenance. Russia complained about Ukraine’s suspension of Russian television channels, and Russian state media reported that the country’s military had seized Ukraine’s combat-dolphin program in Sevastopol. “Dolphins get used to the people they work with,” said former Ukrainian defense minister Yevhen Marchuk. “It’s not so easy for them to change allegiance.”[16][17][18] Darth Vader won the presidential primary of the Ukrainian Internet Party.[19] American astronomers reported the discovery of planetlike object 2012 VP-113, nicknamed “Biden,” and President Barack Obama proposed legislation to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone metadata and to leave data repositories in the hands of telecom companies.[20][21] A Flemish newspaper apologized for running a doctored photo depicting Barack and Michelle Obama as apes, and former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld called Obama’s handling of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan inferior to a hypothetical primate’s. “A trained ape,” he said, “can get a status-of-forces agreement.”[22][23] Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a Kuwaiti adviser and son-in-law to Osama bin Laden, was convicted in New York City of conspiring to kill Americans and of providing material support to terrorists in conjunction with the attacks of September 11, 2001.[24] BuzzFeed revealed a Pentagon plan to help Yemen develop its own targeted-killing program by supplying the country with crop-dusting planes armed with laser-guided missiles. “As much as you can put a Yemeni face on it,” said an American businessman familiar with the plan, “it feels better.”[25]


In Utah, a man in a Superman T-shirt named Christopher Reeves was arrested for driving while intoxicated, and a woman named Cameo Crispi was accused of trying to set fire to her boyfriend’s home by burning a pound of bacon.[26][27] Mennonite-owned furniture maker Conestoga Wood Specialties and Baptist-owned crafts retailer Hobby Lobby argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers’ insurance policies cover certain forms of contraception infringed upon the religious freedom of privately held corporations.[28] Researchers noted the persistence in adults of positive feelings toward Tony the Tiger, and a Norwegian man had a McDonald’s receipt tattooed on his forearm.[29][30] The International Court of Justice declared Japanese minke whaling in the Southern Ocean to be unscientific.[31] Pollutants were found to be feminizing male thick-lipped mullet in the Basque estuary of Gernika, and a dozen sheep visited the Louvre.[32][33] A Stockholm family killed a 16-inch-long rat they’d found in their kitchen. “One of my sons said it was a Putin rat,” said the mother. “But my older son, who has a few more years of education under his belt, said it was much more like a Viking.”[34]

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