[Weekly Review] | April 17, 2018, by Sharon J. Riley | Harper's Magazine

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US president Donald Trump, who recently announced that “very soon” the United States would be “coming out of Syria,” launched the largest Western military intervention in Syria since the start of the country’s seven-year civil war.[1][2] The United States struck a scientific research center and two chemical weapons facilities with dozens of $1.4 million Tomahawk missiles that Trump described as “nice and new and smart.”[3][4][5] Following the strike, Russia claimed that 71 US missiles had been preemptively shot down; Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was reported to be in a “good mood”; Russia’s defense ministry alleged that a chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians, which US intelligence believes was carried out by the Assad regime, had been staged as part of a “Russophobic campaign”; UN secretary-general António Guterres said that the Cold War “is back with a vengeance”; and Assad’s supporters danced in the streets of Damascus. “Mission Accomplished!” tweeted Trump.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, on whose personal security the company spent more than $7 million last year, testified before Congress that he was among the nearly 90 million Facebook users who had their privacy breached during the 2016 presidential election by a data firm employed by Trump’s campaign.[13][14][15][16] Former FBI director James Comey, whom Trump described as a “leaker,” a “liar,” and a “slime ball” that is “slippery,” published a memoir detailing his time working in the Trump Administration, in which he likened the president to a Mafia leader.[17][18] The Republican National Committee set up a new website, www.lyincomey.com, and the committee’s deputy finance chairman resigned after it was revealed that he had an affair with a former Playboy Playmate, whom he paid $1.6 million as part of a nondisclosure agreement arranged by Trump’s personal lawyer.[19][20][21][22] A teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and staff were shot and killed in February, was arrested for leaving a loaded gun at the beach, where an intoxicated man discovered it and fired it at a wall.[23]

Researchers found that male students overestimate their intelligence, and police in West London arrested five people for planning a rave in an abandoned Toys “R” Us.[24][25] A judge in Richmond, England, ruled that dogs could legally urinate on lampposts, researchers found that humans are most aggressive at sunset, and the NYPD received reports of a tiger on the loose in Manhattan. “It’s a racoon,” said a spokesperson.[26][27] A 1,500-year-old onion was found in Sweden, a mummified monkey was found in the air duct of a century-old department store in Minneapolis, and in Saudi Arabia, archaeologists dug up an 87,000-year-old middle finger.[28][29][30] A man in Rhode Island stole $1,600 from a bank and threw it over the fence of a property belonging to Taylor Swift, telling police officers he had hoped to propose to her, and it was reported that Google’s virtual assistants received nearly 500,000 marriage proposals in India.[31][32] A letter signed by 150 robotics experts warned the European Union against granting rights to “electronic persons,” NASA sent samples of human and bull sperm to the International Space Station, researchers in Washington created artificial intelligence that thinks like a malamute named Kelp, and scientists discovered that when chimpanzees eat young monkeys, they prefer to eat the brains first.[33][34][35][36][37]

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