Tensions rise over murders in Israel and Palestine, the VA schedules an appointment for a deceased veteran, and the Vatican legitimizes Catholic exorcists
In Israel, three men confessed to the murder of a 16-year-old Palestinian named Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was abducted near his home in East Jerusalem on July 2, then burned alive and dumped in a forest. The murder was widely believed to be an act of revenge for the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers — Eyal Yifrach, 19; Gilad Shaar, 16; and Naftali Fraenkel, 16 — whose bodies were found in a field in the West Bank, and whose deaths Israel blamed on Hamas. A Palestinian man was arrested in the West Bank in connection with the deaths of the Israeli teens; Jewish and Arab rioters staged violent protests in eastern and northern Jerusalem; Palestinian militants in Gaza launched rockets and mortars into Israel; and the Israeli Defense Forces conducted air strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, assembled assault units at the Gaza border, and called up 1,500 reservists. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Khdeir’s father to apologize for his son’s killing. “We denounce all brutal behavior,” he said. “The murder of your son is abhorrent.” “Maybe he called, I don’t know,” said Khdeir’s father. “Tons of people called me this morning to apologize.” A video was posted online purportedly showing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), proclaiming himself Caliph Ibrahim, ruler of the world’s Muslims and leader of a newly declared Islamic state composed of territories captured by ISIL in Syria and Iraq. In the video, the man alleged to be al-Baghdadi delivers a Friday sermon at the grand mosque of Mosul and calls on Muslims to wage jihad during Ramadan. “It is a month in which for Allah we are protected from hell,” he said. “The marketplace of jihad is open.” United Arab Emirates prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum announced that Dubai would build the world’s first temperature-controlled city, a 48-million-square-foot complex that will house 100 hotels, a theme park, and medical-tourism facilities, and will be called the Mall of the World.
On the eve of Independence Day in Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko delivered a speech in Belarusian instead of Russian for the first time in 20 years, disproving rumors that he can no longer speak the language. Ukrainian astronomers officially named a star Putin-Huilo! (“Putin is a dickhead!”), and Ukrainian troops recaptured the city of Slovyansk — a stronghold of the pro-Russian insurgent movement and its self-declared People’s Republic of Donetsk — after Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko called off a ceasefire agreement with the rebels. “This is not the final victory,” said Poroshenko. “No time for fireworks.” An inmate accused of murdering his wife with adulterated Kool-Aid escaped the county jail in Eminence, Missouri, during a July 4 fireworks display, and competitive eater Joey “Jaws” Chestnut won his eighth consecutive Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog–Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York, with 61 wieners and buns. While bidding farewell to departing White House executive pastry chef Bill “Crustmaster” Yosses, President Barack Obama quipped that Yosses’s pies were so good he suspected they contained crack cocaine. “There is no crack,” said First Lady Michelle Obama, “in our pies.” A German intelligence officer was arrested for spying for the United States on the German parliamentary investigation into U.S. surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the U.S. Veterans Health Administration offered Vietnam veteran Doug Chase an appointment with a primary-care doctor at a Bedford, Massachusetts, hospital 22 months after he died of a brain tumor. “We are committed to providing primary care in a timely manner,” said a letter sent to Chase, “and would greatly appreciate a prompt response.”
African Union leaders voted to give themselves and their allies immunity from prosecution for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide at the proposed African Court of Justice and Human Rights, and the Guardian reported that, in response to a recent European Union court ruling granting people the right to be “forgotten” by search engines, Google had concealed search results for a story the newspaper published about French office workers who made art from Post-it notes. The police department of Lawrence, Indiana, acquired a 48,000-pound, six-wheeled, mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle formerly used by the U.S. military in combat zones. “We’d rather have it and never need it,” said an official, “than need it and wish we had it.” A Vatican committee approved the constitution of the International Association of Exorcists; a $259.9 million Powerball jackpot was awarded in Nashville, Tennessee, to an Episcopal monk who had taken a lifelong vow of poverty; and a University of Virginia study found that a majority of test subjects preferred administering painful electric shocks to their ankles over spending 15 minutes in quiet contemplation. A customer entered a Barclays bank in Andover, England, defecated on the floor in several places, and left. “He didn’t look ill,” said a witness, “he just looked a bit smug as he walked out.”
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