Weekly Review — October 21, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

The U.S. bombs Syria, bishops almost support same-sex couples, and violence breaks out at a New Hampshire pumpkin festival

“His Majesty Frank Penguin, King of the Brutes” (January 1857)

“His Majesty Frank Penguin, King of the Brutes” (January 1857)

A U.S.-led coalition responded to the Islamic State’s siege on Kobani, Syria, with airdrops that delivered ammunition and medical supplies to Syrian Kurdish resistance fighters and airstrikes that targeted IS buildings, command posts, fighting positions, and artillery. The civilian population of Kobani fell to 700; its fighting population was between 3,000 and 4,000, one third of which was women. “I can’t imagine leading a life of a traditional Kurdish woman, caring for a husband and children at home,” a Kobani local said.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] Kosovo’s spy agency returned an eight-year-old boy to his mother after his father took him to Syria for three months, Moroccan authorities detained a man traveling with his two- and four-year-old daughters to join the Islamic State, and Austrian authorities took custody of an eight-year-old boy whose mother took him to Syria in August.[8] A Detroit diner named Isis Coney Island changed its name to Freedom Coney Island.[9] A Dallas nurse who had cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the only person to die from Ebola in the United States, tested positive for the disease one day after traveling on a commercial flight with a low fever. The CEO of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, which treated Duncan, apologized for recommending that he take Tylenol and sending him home, and the World Health Organization admitted to bungling its initial response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. “Nearly everyone involved,” the WHO memo said, “failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall.” Giant Microbes, a web retailer, reported that its $9.95 Ebola plush toy, whose product tag describes the virus as “the T. Rex of microbes,” had sold out worldwide.[10][11][12][13][14] Players for the Leone Stars, the national soccer team of Sierra Leone, where Ebola has killed 1183 people, were isolated in an empty hotel, subjected to twice-daily temperature checks, and taunted with cries of “Ebola, Ebola” during games against Cameroon; none of the players had been to Sierra Leone since July. “To be cast out by four- and five-year-old kids is pretty disturbing,” the Stars’ midfielder said.[15] Federal courts struck down bans on gay marriage in Arizona, Alaska, and Wyoming, making same-sex marriage legal in a total of 32 states.[16] At the close of a two-week summit in Vatican City, Catholic bishops removed passages from an interim report that had permitted gay and lesbian “gifts” to the church and praised same-sex couple’s “precious support” for one another, and the mayor of Rome defied Italian law by registering 16 gay couples who had married in Portugal, Spain, and the U.S.[17][18] A Baptist church in Alabama filed suit against one of its pastors after he confessed during sermons to having sex with congregation members, neglecting to disclose his AIDS diagnosis to his sexual partners, and abusing narcotics.[19] Doctors removed a tropical spider that had been in the stomach of an Australian man for three days.[20]

In Hong Kong, thousands of protestors calling for for free elections recaptured the Mong Kok protest site hours after police tore down barricades and tents. “I’m scared of the police now,” said a protester. “They’re so rude.”[21] A Florida judge sentenced Michael Dunn to life in prison without parole for the murder of Jordan Davis, an unarmed African-American teenager who was playing loud music in his car when he was killed; a defense witness disclosed that Oscar Pistorius has been making monthly payments of $550 to the family of his former girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp since he shot and killed her in February; a Pakistani court upheld the death sentence of Asia Bibi, a woman convicted of insulting the Prophet Muhammad; and two Tanzanian women accused of afflicting men with sexual impotence by means of witchcraft were killed and cut into pieces.[22][23][24][25] Facebook and Apple announced they would add egg-freezing procedures, at a cost of up to $20,000, to their employment benefits.[26] An unseasonal blizzard and avalanche caused by Cyclone Hudhud killed at least 38 hikers and guides in the Himalayas, and a Bermuda hurricane seminar was rescheduled because of the impending arrival of Hurricane Gonzalo.[27][28][29] Nigeria announced a ceasefire with militant group Boko Haram, claiming that it had reached a deal for the release of 200 schoolgirls kidnapped last April, and Somalia launched its first postal service in about 20 years.[30][31] The Paradise Funeral Chapel in Michigan started offering drive-thru viewings.[32] A deaf dog belonging to a deaf owner was shot and killed in Alabama, and an Indiana dog’s skin troubles were found to be caused by an allergy to humans. “It’s just not his fault,” said the owner of Lucky Dog Retreat.[33][34]

A Brooklyn man posing as a law-enforcement officer was revealed to be a Hasidic rabbi named Avroham Gross, who, as Roberto Eddy Santos, had been a member of the Latin Kings and served time at Sing Sing prison for multiple violent robberies.[35] A Milwaukee man was arrested for throwing dildos at teenage girls from his car, a Delaware surgical center was sued by a man who woke up from a colonoscopy wearing pink women’s underwear, and Connecticut police arrested a man for aggressively mopping the floor of a Double Tree hotel.[36][37][38] An Italian couple having sex in the sea at Porto San Giorgio was stuck together for several hours, and, in Moscow, an advertisement on the side of a van that displayed an image of a woman’s breasts reportedly caused 500 accidents in 24 hours.[39][40] A truck that spilled 200 gallons of honey on a Florida highway caused thousands of bees to be crushed.[41] A six-foot four-inch cow from Orangeville, Illinois, named Blosom was crowned the world’s tallest, a Northern California pumpkin weighing 2,058 pounds was flown to a showing at New York’s Botanical Garden, and violence among participants at the annual pumpkin festival in Concord, New Hampshire, injured at least thirty people, destroyed two cars, and led the police to arrest fourteen people and subdue the crowd with tear gas and pepper spray. “People,” said a college student, “just got too drunk.”[42][43][44]

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Correction: The New Hampshire city whose pumpkin festival was besieged by drunkenness was incorrectly identified as Concord in an early version of this story. It was in Keene. We regret the error.

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At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

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