Weekly Review — January 14, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Boko Haram raids 16 villages in Nigeria, a bomb is detonated outside an NAACP office in Colorado, and a Muslim cleric bans snowmen.

WeeklyReviewCrocAvitarTwo Muslim extremists in Paris shot and killed 12 people in an attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper that published cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad. French police killed the two suspects after the militants took hostages at a printing shop; a third man who claimed allegiance with them held up a kosher grocery store, killing four, before being shot by police.[1][2][3][4] Ten thousand French troops and 5,000 police officers were deployed throughout the country to protect “sensitive sites”; 1.5 million people protested in Paris; the anti-Islam group Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West held a rally attended by 25,000 people in Dresden, Germany; and Charlie Hebdo announced that it would print 3 million copies of its next issue, which will feature a cartoon of Muhammad crying below the words “all is forgiven.”[5][6][7] Hundreds of members of the extremist group Boko Haram, which killed 10,000 Nigerians in 2014, raided 16 villages, murdering as many as 2,000 people. “Dead bodies litter the bushes,” said a local government official.[8][9] In Nigeria, two young girls who were estimated to be 10 years old blew themselves up in a crowded market, killing at least four people, and a 10-year-old girl detonated a bomb she was wearing in another market, killing 20 people.[10][11] A suicide bomber killed 12 people near Baghdad when he drove a car filled with explosives into a group of Shiite militiamen and Iraqi soldiers; a police officer in Istanbul died after a suicide bomber walked into a police station and detonated explosives concealed under her coat. “It’s snowing,” said a tea seller who witnessed the attack, “So there was nothing suspicious about her big coat.”[12][13]

The FBI and Justice Department recommended that felony charges be brought against retired U.S. general David Petraeus for allegedly sharing classified documents with his former mistress.[14] FBI investigators were unable to definitively determine the motive of an attacker who detonated a bomb outside the NAACP office in Colorado Springs.[15] A 77-year-old man told a court he tried to blow up an antique grenade on a bus in Zhejiang, China, because he was upset with the driver for previously having failed to stop in the proper location.[16] A court in Cairo acquitted 26 men who were arrested at a bathhouse last month on charges of debauchery and “indecent public acts.”[17] Russia barred transgender people from getting driving licenses; Britain announced that, to improve diversity, its armed forces will begin asking recruits if they are gay.[18][19][20] Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he would not attend an event in Poland marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army.[21] Cuba freed 53 political prisoners at the United States’ behest; Cuban state media reported that Fidel Castro, who had not been heard from for three months, broke his silence by writing a four-page letter to soccer star Diego Maradona to discuss global oil consumption and quash rumors of his death.[22][23]

In India, at least 23 people died from consuming a batch of bootleg liquor; 69 people died in Mozambique after drinking homemade beer suspected to be contaminated with crocodile bile; and an analysis of a 700-year-old fecal sample revealed that a patron of Dante, who was also an Italian warlord, died from ingesting a poisonous “brew or foxglove decoction.”[24][25][26] Two nine-year-old students in Elba, New York, were suspended for plotting, with a third student, to poison their teacher by coating her personal belongings with hand sanitizer.[27] Researchers published a method for developing antibiotics from bacteria in dirt.[28] A man had a heart attack while parading a statue of Jesus down the street in Manila in anticipation of the arrival of Pope Francis.[29] Spike Lee announced that he would sell his latest film online, ahead of its theatrical release. “I’m hyped,” said Lee, “to get my new joint, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, out to the world.”[30] The former highest-ranking U.S. cardinal blamed “radical feminists” for the Catholic Church’s pervasive child molestation. “The Church,” he said, “has largely ignored the serious needs of men.”[31] In Saudi Arabia, a Muslim cleric issued a ruling that forbids Sunnis from building snowmen. “It is imitating the infidels,” one supporter said. “It promotes lustiness and eroticism.”[32]

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Five years ago, Jean-Sebastien Hertsens Zune went looking for his parents. He already had one set, a Belgian church organist and his wife, who adopted him as a baby from Guatemala and later moved the family to France. But he wanted to find his birth mother and father. When Zune was a teenager, his Belgian parents gave him his adoption file, holding back only receipts showing how much the process had cost. Most people pay little attention to their birth certificates, but for adoptees, these documents, along with notes about their relinquishment, tell an often patchy origin story.

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Once, in an exuberant state, feeling filled with the muse, I told another writer: When I write, I know everything. Everything about the characters? she asked. No, I said, everything about the world, the universe. Every. Fucking. Thing. I was being preposterous, of course, but I was also trying to explain the feeling I got, deep inside writing a first draft, that I was listening and receiving, listening some more and receiving, from a place that was far enough away from my daily life, from all of my reading, from everything.

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All his life he lived on hatred.

He was a solitary man who hoarded gloom. At night a thick smell filled his bachelor’s room on the edge of the kibbutz. His sunken, severe eyes saw shapes in the dark. The hater and his hatred fed on each other. So it has ever been. A solitary, huddled man, if he does not shed tears or play the violin, if he does not fasten his claws in other people, experiences over the years a constantly mounting pressure, until he faces a choice between lunacy and suicide. And those who live around him breathe a sigh of relief.

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Thirty-two years ago my newborn daughter was discharged from Boston Children’s Hospital after an operation to repair a congenital birth defect and a lengthy period of recovery. Her mother and I had prepared for this—we knew the diagnosis from the ultrasound, had done the research you could do in 1986, asked the questions we could learn to ask—and got a good outcome. We went home to the western end of the state to raise twin daughters, one with a major disability (“our third child,” her mother says), and found ourselves in a system whose existence we hadn’t known of: Early Childhood Intervention. Physical therapists, psychologists, licensed practical nurses, and the state and public–private agencies that supplied and paid them. They cared for our child, but more than that, they taught us how to, and the teaching was as much mental and emotional—call it spiritual—as it was practical. They taught us to watch, to observe, to learn this particular child; to have patience, not to see too much and fall into useless anxiety, not to see too little and miss the signs of trouble. Close watching actually changed our experience of time. I learned what mindfulness meant, even if my practice of it fell short.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

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