[Weekly Review] | September 9, 2014, by Jeremy Keehn | Harper's Magazine

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ISIL murders journalist Steven Sotloff; Satan in Moscow and Detroit; and Florida police play Cherries Waffles Tennis

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) released video footage of the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff in Syria. In the video, Sotloff delivers a statement at knifepoint blaming U.S. president Barack Obama for his peril, then a masked fighter with a London accent—who claims to be the same man who murdered American journalist James Foley two weeks earlier—says, “I’m back, Obama,” and then, before cutting Sotloff’s throat, “You, Obama, have yet again, through your actions, killed yet another American citizen.” ISIL apologized to its followers for posting the video prematurely.[1][2][3] Human Rights Watch presented evidence that ISIL fighters had massacred between 560 and 770 men in June after capturing an Iraqi army base near Tikrit. Arab League states agreed to pursue “security, political, economic, philosophical, and cultural measures” to confront ISIL, and Syrian warplanes bombed an ISIL-run bakery in Raqqa. Obama announced a coalition of ten NATO member states to combat ISIL financially and military, then visited Stonehenge. “How cool is this?” he said of the sarsens.[4][5][6][7][8][9] The United States killed Ahmed Godane, leader of the Islamist group Al Shabaab, in an air strike on his encampment in southern central Somalia, and Al Shabaab named Sheikh Umar Abu Ubaidah as Godane’s replacement.[10] Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri announced a new franchise in India.[11] A macaque stole and then dropped money to people in the Indian city of Shimla, and human trials began in the United States on an experimental Ebola vaccine after tests on macaques showed the vaccine could provide immunity for as long as ten months.[12][13] The World Health Organization warned that Ebola was spreading “exponentially” in Liberia.[14] NATO announced the creation of a rapid-reaction force with the capacity to deploy quickly in Eastern Europe, and Ukraine reached agreement with pro-Russian separatists on a ceasefire, which was threatened two days later when fighting broke out in Mariupol and Donetsk.[15][16] Russian Orthodox activist Dmitry Enteo delivered a lecture in Moscow titled “Will Putin Become God by Divine Grace?”; Patriarch Filaret, leader of the Kiev Patriarchate, declared that Vladimir Putin had fallen under the influence of Satan; and the Satanic Temple opened its first U.S. chapter outside New York City, in Detroit.[17][18][19]

A witness at bankruptcy hearings for the City of Detroit testified that firefighters at 38 halls had built makeshift emergency-alert systems, including one in which an incoming fax would bump a door hinge, which would tug on a wire, which would set off a doorbell.[20] More than 450 fast-food workers were arrested during demonstrations in 150 American cities to demand wages of $15 an hour and the right to unionize.[21] In North Carolina, a judge ruled that DNA evidence had exonerated mentally disabled half-brothers Henry Lee McCollum, 50, who was on death row, and Leon Brown, 46, who was serving a life sentence, of the rape and murder of a child in 1983. “We’re going to go home,” said McCollum’s father. “Then I’m going to say: ‘Do you want to go fishing? I’m going to teach you how to fish.’ ”[22][23] A federal judge ruled that BP was chiefly responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and ordered the company to pay damages expected to total between $8 billion and $18 billion.[24] Danish zoologists publishing in PLoS One reported the discovery off the coast of Australia of two new species of tiny, mushroom-shaped sea creature whose physical characteristics defy standard taxonomic classification. “We published this paper in part,” said co-author Jørgen Olesen, “as a cry for help.”[25] A meteorite struck Managua.[26] Paleontologists announced the discovery in Argentina of Dreadnoughtus schrani, an 85-foot-long titanosaur with the largest calculable mass of any land animal on record.[27] Researchers in Vienna reported that a Goffin’s cockatoo named Figaro had fashioned tools from wooden beams in order to gather hard-to-reach nuts, and had transmitted his technique to a group of three males, who improved on it.[28] Fishermen caught two albino lobsters off the coast of Maine, and authorities in Los Angeles captured a blue-eyed albino monocled cobra that a zoo curator described as “pretty fat.”[29][30][31]


Cherries Waffles Tennis was arrested in Jupiter, Florida, for defrauding a surf shop of a spear gun.[32] Moderators on the website Reddit closed the thread, known as “The Fappening,” where nude photos stolen from the cell phones of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton were first posted online; and the anonymous user who started the thread complained in a Reddit Q&A that a Washington Post profile had invaded his privacy. “Why is my being on an asexuality website,” he wrote, “relevant to my work on /r/TheFappening?”[33][34] Russia’s space agency confirmed that five geckos it had sent into orbit to copulate in zero gravity had frozen to death, and a Russian driver posted to YouTube dashboard-camera footage of Mickey Mouse and Spongebob Squarepants beating up a motorist.[35][36] In Jay, Maine, two motorcycle accidents occurred in one afternoon on Crash Road.[37] A Chicago woman was killed by a falling gargoyle as she walked past a church, and comedian Joan Rivers died at age 81. “I finally found out how priests get holy water,” Rivers once said. “They boil the hell out of it.”[38][39][40]

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