In Italy, where more than 30,000 people die annually because of air pollution, the town of San Vitaliano banned the use of wood-burning pizza ovens. A British man in Kyrgyzstan was arrested on suspicion of racial hatred after he compared a sausage dish to a horse’s penis, and a priest in the Philippines was suspended by the Catholic Church for using a hoverboard during Christmas Eve Mass. China’s Communist Party released an official rap song featuring President Xi Jinping. “Corruption,” he rapped, “must be punished.” Read more...
Saudi Arabia executed 47 people charged with terrorism, including a prominent Shiite cleric. Protesters set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, after which Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan cut diplomatic ties with Iran. An Al Qaeda affiliate released a recruiting video that included an excerpt from a speech given by Donald Trump, and a poll of Americans found Trump tied with Pope Francis for second place as the most admired man. Prosecutors in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, charged Bill Cosby with sexual assault; Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke pleaded not guilty to charges that he murdered Laquan McDonald, a black teenager he shot 16 times; and it was reported that at least 965 civilians were killed by police shootings in the United States in 2015. In Temixco, Mexico, a mayor was assassinated less than a day after she took office, and in Mardan, Pakistan, at least 26 people were killed in a suicide bombing targeting a government office. Ethan Couch, a Texas teenager who recently violated his probation sentence for killing four people in a drunk-driving accident in 2013, was found and detained in Mexico. “He hasn’t committed a crime,” said Couch’s lawyer, “in Mexico.”
An earthquake in India killed eight people, and floods in Mississippi left at least 24 people dead. In Oregon, an armed militia occupied a national wildlife refuge to protest the prison sentences of two ranchers who set 139 acres of federal land on fire. “What other choice do we have?” said one militiaman. A survey found that Americans prioritize preserving the religious freedom of Christians over that of Muslims. Sweden and Denmark created new border controls to limit the influx of migrants, and 35 asylum-seekers in Sweden requested relocation because they feared their refugee shelter was haunted. In Italy, where more than 30,000 people die annually because of air pollution, the town of San Vitaliano banned the use of wood-burning pizza ovens. A British man in Kyrgyzstan was arrested on suspicion of racial hatred after he compared a sausage dish to a horse’s penis, and a priest in the Philippines was suspended by the Catholic Church for using a hoverboard during Christmas Eve Mass. China’s Communist Party released an official rap song featuring President Xi Jinping. “Corruption,” he rapped, “must be punished.”
A Turkish court ruled that the eviction of a woman’s pet cat was inhumane. A man in Nebraska sued the Funny Bone Comedy Club, claiming to have broken his leg while under hypnosis during a show. In California, a 900-pound elephant seal held up traffic for two days while trying to cross a highway; in Rome, roads were closed when bird droppings reportedly led to car accidents; and in Auckland, New Zealand, firefighters were called to rescue a pigeon trapped in a tree. More than 30,000 dairy cows were killed in a blizzard in Texas, and temperatures at the North Pole rose above freezing. An artificial-intelligence company in California claimed it would be able to bring the dead back to life by 2045, and a New York company announced it would begin selling kosher marijuana. Facebook blocked attempts to post photographs of a famous Danish statue because it violated the site’s nudity rules.  Five Hong Kong booksellers mysteriously disappeared, and the copyright of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf expired. In Kentucky, a mall was shut down after fights broke out involving up to 2,000 people. “We always plan for worst-case scenario,” said a police officer, “but this exceeded that.”
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