Christmas was banned in Somalia, and a ban on wearing "hats or clothes that resemble Santa Claus" continued in Brunei. Canada experienced a shortage of peppermint candy canes. A man in England dressed as Santa climbed through the window of a KFC wielding a knife, and it was reported that the number of people giving guns as Christmas gifts had increased since last year. "It is a significant gift," said a gun-shop owner, "to arm the people that you love."
In Syria, air strikes allegedly carried out by Russia killed a top antigovernment commander, and the Islamic State halted U.N.-brokered plans to withdraw over 2,000 of its fighters from Damascus. The Russian Air Force claimed that it had carried out 302 strikes against more than 1,000 targets in Syria in six days, and it was reported that in the past year the Islamic State lost 14 percent of its territory. “We are the victors,” said the leader of the Islamic State in a video, “in any event.” More than 100,000 people were displaced by flooding in South America, severe flooding in the United Kingdom closed so many roads that police ran out of “road closed” signs, and saltwater crocodiles were seen swimming through a flooded town in Australia. Twenty-nine people were killed in tornadoes in Southern U.S. states; New York City experienced its hottest Christmas on record; and in Moscow, where temperatures set record highs, a 300-foot-long recreational slide made of ice melted four days after it opened. A fireball spotted over Arizona, California, and Nevada was identified as debris from a Russian rocket; and a perfume inspired by Russian president Vladimir Putin went on sale in Moscow. “It’s soft,” said its creator, “but at the same time it’s very firm.”
Police in Chicago opened fire on a 19-year-old black man wielding a baseball bat, killing him and his 55-year-old neighbor. An 82-year-old woman called police in Milwaukee to report that she had heard one of her neighbors chanting “ISIS is good, ISIS is great” during sex, and police who responded to a suspected gas leak in Germany concluded that the source of the odor was sauerkraut. Washington State officials found a computer glitch that had released more than 3,000 prisoners early over the past 13 years, it was reported that the IRS had issued $27 million in tax refunds in 2013 because of a programming error, and a British astronaut on the International Space Station called the wrong number while attempting to phone home on Christmas Eve. Christmas was banned in Somalia, and a ban on wearing “hats or clothes that resemble Santa Claus” continued in Brunei. Canada experienced a shortage of peppermint candy canes. A man in England dressed as Santa climbed through the window of a KFC wielding a knife, and it was reported that the number of people giving guns as Christmas gifts had increased since last year. “It is a significant gift,” said a gun-shop owner, “to arm the people that you love.”
Researchers found that half of all Americans live within 18 miles of their mothers. Three armed burglars were arrested after stealing five dollars from two horse-and-buggy drivers. A monkey stole a bus in India while the driver was napping, a black bear in California rode a trash compactor for 65 miles, and a coyote sneaked into Myrtle Beach International Airport. “It did not get through the security checkpoint,” said the airport’s spokesperson. “The TSA is doing a fantastic job.” The motorcade of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan stopped to persuade a man not to jump off a bridge. In Florida, a man crashed into a casket business while attempting to drive his car through a time portal, and a woman was arrested while riding around a Walmart in a motorized shopping cart eating a rotisserie chicken and drinking a bottle of wine. Police in Senegal arrested 11 people attending a gay wedding at a school, and the FDA ruled that gay men can now donate blood as long as they haven’t had sex with a man in the past year. A man in St. Paul, Minnesota, pointed a pistol at a clerk’s head in a sex shop while trying to exchange his broken penis pump, and a German man died after blowing up a roadside condom machine. Volunteers in Denver gave away 1,000 rolled joints to the homeless on Christmas Eve, an orangutan in Thailand made itself a hammock, and a dog in England became an honorary schoolteacher.
Read the Weekly Review in the Harper’s Magazine app, or sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday.