[Weekly Review] | January 27, 2015, by Sharon J. Riley | Harper's Magazine

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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review


Boko Haram attacks Maiduguri, Nigeria, winter storm Juno blankets the northeastern United States, and a Chihuahua in Idaho gets gender reassignment surgery


President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address, in which he mentioned the economy 18 times, jobs 19 times, and hope 4 times, and called climate change the greatest threat to future generations.[1][2] The U.S. Senate voted 98 to 1 in favor of an amendment stating that climate change is “not a hoax.” Supporters included Senator James Inhofe (R., Okla.), author of The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. “The hoax,” he said, “is that there are some people that are so arrogant to think … that they can change climate.”[3][4] King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died at age 90 and was replaced by his 79-year-old half-brother, Crown Prince Salman, who, according to analysts, is expected to continue the country’s policy of flooding the world market with low-cost oil. Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison last year for insulting Islam, had his second set of 50 lashings delayed because of injuries sustained during his first lashings.[5][6][7] A video released by the Islamic State showed a captive Japanese journalist holding a photograph of what appeared to be the beheaded body of another man whom the group had tried unsuccessfully to ransom to the Japanese government for $200 million. “They are being fair,” the surviving hostage said of his captors, who are now seeking to exchange him for a militant imprisoned in Jordan. “They no longer want money.”[8] Boko Haram militants attacked the northeastern city of Maiduguri, Nigeria, killing 15 soldiers and several civilians.[9][10] In Greece, where youth unemployment is near 50 percent, the anti-austerity party Syriza won 149 seats in a national parliamentary election, falling two seats short of an absolute majority. “I was asked to hold a hot potato,” said the outgoing Greek prime minister, who led the conservative New Democracy party, “and I did that.”[11][12][13]

Blizzard warnings were issued from Maryland to Maine for what forecasters said could be the worst storm ever seen in some areas. Thousands of flights were canceled; all non-essential vehicles, including taxis and food delivery bicycles, were ordered off the streets of New York City; schools were closed; and up to three feet of snow was predicted. States of emergency were declared in advance. “We’ve got our bread, we’ve got our milk, we’ve got our water, we’ve got my mother coming over today,” said Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, “and I’d ask every Rhode Islander to do that.”[14][15][16][17] In Dallas, a federal judge sentenced the journalist Barrett Brown to 63 months in prison for sharing a link to information stolen from the private-intelligence firm Stratfor by a hacker in 2011. “Good news!” Brown said in a statement. “They’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”[18] Guards at an Australian immigrant-detention facility on Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea, broke through a barricade erected by detainees who were protesting their treatment. Several hundred immigrants at the facility continued a hunger strike, 20 sewed their mouths shut, and two swallowed razor blades.[19][20][21] In Whiteville, North Carolina, a 70-year-old man was released from prison after serving 37 years for a double murder he has been proven not to have committed. “Going home. Relaxing. Sleeping in a real bed,” he said of his plans upon release. “Probably get in a pool of water and swim for a little while.”[22]

Toxicology reports confirmed that four bears found dead in New Hampshire last fall died of chocolate overdoses, an eight-week-old Chihuahua hermaphrodite in Idaho named Charcoal underwent surgery to become female, and in Newfoundland a hermaphroditic kitten named Mittens was scheduled to undergo gender-assignment surgery. “I’d like for it to be a female,” said the cat’s owner. “But it really don’t matter.”[23][24][25] Male runway models at Paris Fashion Week wore garments that exposed their penises, and Lebanon’s tourist minister said that Miss Lebanon would not be stripped of her crown for appearing in a photo with Miss Israel at a Miss Universe event.[26][27] The in-flight catalogue SkyMall filed for bankruptcy.[28] A Spreading Wings S900 drone manufactured by a Chinese aerial-photography retailer crashed in a Mexican supermarket parking lot near the U.S. border while carrying six pounds of methamphetamine.[29][30][31] Californian and Australian chemists announced that they had succeeded in unboiling egg whites, the New Hampshire Lottery’s $1 lottery tickets were scented with bacon, and professional golfer Brooke Pancake announced a sponsorship deal with Waffle House. “To be quite honest,” said Pancake, “I prefer waffles.”[32][33][34]

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