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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review

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France’s National Front party, whose president, Marine Le Pen, recently compared Muslims praying in public to Nazi occupiers and was acquitted of hate-speech charges, won a record 6.8 million votes in regional elections. Danish legislators considered a measure that would allow authorities to seize jewelry, cash, and other valuables from refugees. Public schools in Los Angeles and Nashua, New Hampshire, were closed because of bomb threats, and a poll found that 30 percent of Republican primary voters support bombing Agrabah, the fictional city from Disney’s Aladdin. Continue reading...

HarpersWeb-WeeklyReview-RP-LargeThe U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a plan for peace talks to end the Syrian civil war, which has lasted nearly five years and has killed more than 250,000 people. [1][2] The resolution, which called for U.N.-monitored elections within 18 months of the opening talks, took no position on the fate of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. “Now,” said Assad, “I can stay.”[3] The Islamic State declared war on Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia included Pakistan and Lebanon in its anti-terrorism coalition without consulting either country.[4][5] Representatives of Libya’s rival parliaments agreed to form a unified government, peace talks in Switzerland failed to end the nine-month civil war in Yemen, the United States and Cuba announced that commercial flights between the two countries would take place for the first time in more than half a century, and Burundian president Pierre Nkurunziza rejected a decision by the African Union to deploy 5,000 peacekeepers to his country.[6][7][8][9] Turkey and Israel outlined a reconciliation agreement that would normalize their relations for the first time since Israeli soldiers killed ten Turkish activists on an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip.[10] Russian president Vladimir Putin suggested that Washington was behind Turkey’s recent decision to shoot down a Russian warplane flying in contested airspace. “The Turks decided to lick the Americans,” said Putin, “in a certain place.”[11]

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was indicted on six counts of first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old; and a mistrial was declared in the case of William G. Porter, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.[12][13] A woman drove her Oldsmobile into a crowd on the Las Vegas Strip, killing one person and injuring at least 35 others.[14] Authorities in Texas intensified their manhunt for Ethan Couch, a missing teenager who, in 2013, killed four people in a drunk-driving accident and received no jail time because a judge determined that he suffered from “affluenza.”[15] The owner of a pizza shop in Rochester, New York, accepted a plea deal of 270 months in prison for being a recruiter for the Islamic State.[16] France’s National Front party, whose president, Marine Le Pen, recently compared Muslims praying in public to Nazi occupiers and was acquitted of hate-speech charges, won a record 6.8 million votes in regional elections.[17][18] Danish legislators considered a measure that would allow authorities to seize jewelry, cash, and other valuables from refugees.[19] Public schools in Los Angeles and Nashua, New Hampshire, were closed because of bomb threats, and a poll found that 30 percent of Republican primary voters support bombing Agrabah, the fictional city from Disney’s Aladdin.[20][21]

Driving instructors in Holland are now legally able to accept sex as payment from adult students.[22] A German historian found medical records from 1923 proving that Adolf Hitler had only one testicle.[23] A Thai factory worker was charged with lèse-majesté and could face up to 37 years in prison for insulting King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s dog, and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dog was quarantined after biting two guests at a Hanukkah party.[24][25] Over the objections of PETA, a North Carolina court ruled that a convenience store could use a live possum for a New Year’s Eve stunt. “I take care of that possum,” said the store’s owner, “better than I do my wife.”[26] Four thousand Romanian shepherds dressed in sheepskins protested new grazing restrictions outside the parliament in Bucharest.[27] Chinese consumers bought canisters of fresh air from the Rocky Mountains in response to a second “red alert for smog” issued by Beijing, and a restaurant in Jiangsu province was found to have been adding an air-cleaning fee to customers’ bills.[28] The town council of Woodland, North Carolina, rejected a plan to build a solar farm after residents expressed fears that the panels would “suck up all the energy from the sun,” and a power station in the French Alps generated electricity from Beaufort cheese.[29][30] Workers at a South Korean recruiting company wept during a motivational exercise that required them to lie in coffins and imagine their own deaths, and an 82-year-old woman in England knit a scarf while she was trapped in a public lavatory for four days. “If I got cold,” said the woman, “I just sat under the hand dryer.”[31][32]

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