[Weekly Review] | August 5, 2014, by Jeremy Keehn | Harper's Magazine

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Alternating shelter bombings and ceasefires in Gaza; a do-nothing Congress whimpers feebly into recess; and India hires a troupe of black-faced-langur imitators

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Before dawn on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces bombarded a United Nations school at the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza that was sheltering 3,220 Palestinians, killing 21. Israeli officials speaking anonymously told journalists that the attack had targeted a group of Hamas militants who were firing on IDF soldiers as they destroyed a nearby tunnel, and U.N. officials said they had notified the IDF 17 times that the school was occupied, the final time hours before the strike. “Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.[1][2][3][4] On Friday, the IDF reported that 90 minutes after the start of a 72-hour ceasefire announced by the United Nations and the United States, a suicide bomber and other Hamas fighters had attacked Israeli troops who were clearing a tunnel in Rafah, killing two soldiers and abducting Lieutenant Hadar Goldin. Israel then began retaliatory bombardment of Rafah, killing 52 people. “[Don’t] ever second-guess me again,” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told U.S. officials.[5][6] On Sunday, the IDF reported that Goldin had died in battle, began withdrawing ground forces from Gaza as it neared completion of its tunnel-clearing mission, and launched an air strike targeting three militants on a motorcycle in Rafah that struck a food lineup outside the gates of a U.N. school where about 3,000 Palestinians were sheltered, killing 10.[7][8][9] On Monday morning, a Palestinian man killed a pedestrian in Jerusalem after driving an excavator into a bus, and on Monday night, Israel and Hamas agreed to a new 72-hour ceasefire.[10][11] Fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took over three towns in northern Iraq, and fighters from the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries gained control of Benghazi, Libya.[12][13] In Liège, Belgium, world leaders gathered to mark the centennial of World War I, the war to end all wars.[14]

At least 398 people were killed in an earthquake in China’s Yunnan province.[15] A woman named Kicki Karlén discovered the remains of 80 people stored inside large blue Ikea bags at Kläckeberga church near Kalmar, Sweden.[16] Liberia temporarily banned soccer and ordered that the bodies of all Ebola casualties be cremated; Sierra Leone’s leading Ebola doctor, Sheik Umar Khan, died of the virus; and Nigeria confirmed that the second person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the country was the doctor who had treated the first.[17][18][19] Kent Brantly, an American doctor who became infected with Ebola in Liberia, received a transfusion from a 14-year-old patient to whom he had tended, then was airlifted to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment. “We’ve already got smallpox and all that other crap at the CDC,” said an employee at a bookstore near the hospital.[20][21] Prior to the start of a five-week congressional recess, the House of Representatives passed, by large majorities, bills to replenish Israel’s missile-defense system and to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, and voted, by narrow margins, to sue President Barack Obama for overstepping the powers of his office and to spend $694 million to deal with an influx of child migrants from Central and South America. “They’re not even trying to solve the problem,” said Obama, who had requested $3.7 billion for the immigration crisis.[22][23][24][25] The CIA acknowledged that its officials had hacked into computers used by Senate Intelligence Committee members investigating the agency’s detention and interrogation practices.[26] Obama told reporters that after 9/11 “we tortured some folks,” and George W. Bush revealed that he has written a biography of his father.[27][28]


Uganda’s constitutional court struck down a law that made gay sex punishable with long prison terms, and a Utah language-school employee was reported to have been fired for blogging about homophones.[29][30] A Scottish woman who had thrown her prosthetic leg at crew members on board a flight from Enfidah, Tunisia, to Edinburgh was questioned at Crawley police station.[31] An Englishman pushed a brussels sprout up Snowdon with his nose, and an Irish veteran received delivery of a ten-foot coffin replicating a Jack Daniel’s bottle. “It was strange getting into it,” he said.[32][33] A French hospital announced that it was opening a wine bar in its palliative-care center, Parisian gendarmes misplaced 51 kilograms of cocaine, and a veteran from Citronelle, Alabama, accused burglars of trying to smoke his dead wife’s ashes.[34][35][36] Astronomers in California explained why the moon is lemon-shaped, and physicists in Vienna created a quantum Cheshire Cat.[37][38] India hired 40 men to imitate black-faced langurs outside of government buildings in order to scare away rhesus macaques.[39] Marine biologists reported that a deep-sea octopus had brooded for 53 months, then died, and one of two giraffes being transported in an open trailer on a South African highway banged its head against an overpass and died. Said an SPCA official of the other giraffe, “We have already nicknamed it Lucky.” [40][41][42]

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