Weekly Review — October 20, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

President Obama extends the timeline for America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, a category-four typhoon hits the Philippines, and a hen runs a fast-food chicken restaurant’s Twitter account

HarpersWeb-WeeklyReview-RP-LargeA U.N. report found that the Taliban now control more Afghan territory than at any point since the United States invaded the country in 2001, and President Barack Obama extended the timetable for the military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. “We are the ones,” said a Taliban spokesman, “who will determine the date of their withdrawal.”[1][2] An unidentified intelligence worker leaked classified military documents about the American drone-strike program that suggested the White House prefers to kill rather than capture those believed to be terrorists.[3] The U.K. government outlined plans to expand its power to seize the passports of young Britons suspected of seeking to join the Islamic State, which was reported to pay European recruiters up to $10,000 for each new fighter.[4][5] A British woman who traveled with her five children to Syria to find her husband, a former Guantánamo detainee fighting with the Islamic State, announced that she hopes to return to the United Kingdom. “It just wasn’t my cup of tea,” she said.[6] In Syria, antigovernment forces fired American-made missiles at Russian-made tanks operated by President Bashar Al-Assad’s army, and a rocket fired by Russia struck a bomb shelter near the Syrian city of Homs, killing 48 members of a single family.[7][8] Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would have prevented 9/11.[9]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to support the acceleration of Turkey’s entry into the European Union if the country helped to manage the flow of migrants across the continent; and a German mayoral candidate was stabbed in the neck for supporting refugees, then won the election.[10][11] Hungary sealed its 216-mile border with Croatia after having previously assured European leaders that it would remain open, and Russia reportedly ran tests to determine whether it could remove itself from the World Wide Web.[12][13][14] An investigation into the 2014 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 determined that a Russian-made missile had detonated feet from the cockpit.[15] The Los Angeles Police Department was found to have achieved a 7 percent reduction in violent crime by classifying serious assaults as minor offenses.[16] A county attorney in Kentucky argued that being Hispanic was probable cause for being stopped by the police, and a Mississippi judge told a reporter that people who are charged with crimes are criminals.[17][18] Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee tweeted that he trusted Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders “like I trust a North Korean chef with my Labrador.” Kim Jong-Un said that Pyongyang would welcome negotiations with Washington.[19][20] The Obama Administration halted oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean for the next two years. [21] More than 300 people were evacuated from their cars when flash flooding covered California highways in up to six feet of mud.[22] A category-four typhoon hit the Philippines, Philippine senators demanded that Canada take back 2,500 tons of rotting garbage that it had shipped to a Manila port in 2013, and Britain imposed a charge on plastic bags.[23][24][25]

The state of Illinois refused to pay out $288 million in lottery winnings.[26] Fifteen women withdrew from the Miss Iraq beauty pageant after at least two contestants received death threats.[27] A Chinese airline vowed to take action after discovering a staff hazing ritual in which female flight attendants are forced into the overhead luggage bins by their male colleagues.[28] Playboy announced that it would no longer publish fully nude photographs, and a naked woman destroyed a Subway restaurant in Alaska. The Australian fast-food chain Chicken Treat let a hen named Betty run its Twitter account. “0 j5cq0 OOOP 43 0 / g 2,” she tweeted.[29][30][31] It was reported that New York City residents are on track to log more than 24,000 complaints this year about the city’s rats.[32] In London, a meerkat expert was fined for striking a monkey handler in the face with a wine glass during a romantic dispute over a llama keeper.[33] In Florida, a man posing as a police officer was arrested when he pulled over a sheriff’s deputy, and another man was charged with a DUI after he was found blocking multiple lanes of traffic in his motorized wheelchair.[34] A jury decided that a 12-year-old boy from Connecticut was not guilty of negligence for having broken his aunt’s wrist with an exuberant hug at his eighth birthday party. “I remember him shouting,” said the aunt, who was suing her nephew for $127,000, “‘I love you.’”[35]

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I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

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