Weekly Review — March 29, 2016, 1:31 pm

Weekly Review

A suicide bomber kills at least 72 in Pakistan, Microsoft’s chatbot endorses genocide, and a cat is accidentally mailed across England 

HarpersWeb-WeeklyReview-Popkey-bigAt a park in Lahore, Pakistan, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest next to a playground, killing at least 72 people and wounding 280.[1] Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a group associated with the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack and said that it was meant to target Christians celebrating Easter.[2] After the bombing, Facebook mistakenly sent a message to users across the world asking whether they had been “affected by the explosion,” without specifying where the explosion was.[3] More than 46,000 people signed a petition demanding that attendees at the Republican presidential convention be allowed to openly carry guns.[4] Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump gave a speech at the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee in which he called president Barack Obama “the worst thing to ever happen to Israel.” “We are,” said AIPAC’s president in response to Trump’s speech, “sorry.”[5] Authorities in Israel opened a murder investigation after viewing footage of a soldier shooting a Palestinian assailant in the head as the assailant lay motionless on the ground. “He stabbed a friend of mine,” the soldier allegedly told another member of his unit, before opening fire.[6][7] The Austin, Texas, police department permanently suspended an officer who shot and killed a naked unarmed teenager in February.[8] Microsoft released an artificial-intelligence chatbot designed to learn from human interactions that, one day after going live, began tweeting its support for genocide and white supremacy. “\ (^o^) /,” wrote the bot.[9][10]

After a year of deliberations, Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, was sentenced to 40 years in prison by a U.N. tribunal for, among other crimes, his role in the killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995, during the Bosnian civil war.[11] Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor claimed that Russian special services had orchestrated the beating, robbery, and execution of a lawyer representing one of two Russian servicemen currently on trial in Ukraine for terrorism.[12][13][14] In Kennesaw, Georgia, an elementary school banned the use of healing crystals and the word namaste during yoga exercises meant to promote mindfulness, and in Virginia a high-school teacher was accused of allowing students to smoke marijuana in his classroom.[15][16] The Supreme Court ruled in favor of an Alaska man who wanted to use his hovercraft in a federal preserve in order to reach remote moose-hunting grounds, and a Republican lawmaker in Idaho claimed that “the little Supreme Court in [his] head” approved of recently passed legislation that allows references to the Bible in public schools, even though the state’s attorney general concluded that such references are prohibited by Idaho’s constitution.[17][18] The British comedian Eddie Izzard completed 27 marathons in as many days; and in China, runners in the Qingyuan marathon in Guangdong province mistakenly bit into bars of soap they received at the finish line, believing them to be energy bars. “The packs of soap were indeed like food packaging,” said the race organizers.[19][20]

In Sweden, postal workers discovered a package containing 300 live cockroaches; and in England, a cat was accidentally sealed into a box full of DVDs and mailed 250 miles, from Cornwall to West Sussex.[21][22] In South Carolina, a woman was arrested on charges of buggery after she shared videos online of herself performing sexual acts with a dog; and in Florida, a woman was charged with three counts of engaging in sexual conduct with an animal after a man who was suspected of sexually battering her showed police officers videos she had sent him of her having oral sex with two dogs.[23][24] In Connecticut, a woman filed suit against doctors who she claims accidentally removed one of her healthy ribs while attempting to extract a potentially cancerous lesion.[25] The former director of clinical research and emergency medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, who is accused of ejaculating on a woman while she was sedated but conscious, pleaded not guilty to sexual assault, explaining to a detective that he had masturbated before treating the woman, and that some of his semen may have been transferred to her face.[26]

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