Weekly Review — November 26, 2019, 12:07 pm

Weekly Review

Israel’s uncertain politics; detention camps in Xinjiang; England deploys beavers to beat back floods

In three separate corruption investigations, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, was charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, making him the first Israeli of that station to be indicted on criminal charges while in office. “Lies,” said Netanyahu, who 56 percent of Israelis believe should resign. Netanyahu’s longtime political rival Benny Gantz announced that he had not met a deadline to assemble a coalition government, triggering a 21-day period in which Israel’s parliament must nominate another lawmaker to attempt to form a government; if the effort fails, the country will hold its third election in less than a year.1 2 3 Protests focused on inequality and initially sparked by a subway-fare increase continued in Chile, where a hospital was looted, a shopping mall was burned, and soccer players were forced to take shelter in a locker room during a match. It was reported that the ongoing protests have led to 26 deaths, 3,800 injuries, and 7,000 arrests. Amnesty International reported that officers had fired on protesters with live ammunition and had also sexually abused, beat, tortured, and run over dissidents.4 5 In Colombia, a quarter of a million people marched in a national strike to protest changes to the minimum wage, taxes, and pensions; the Colombian government instituted the first curfews in four decades.6 Iranians protested a dramatic increase in gasoline prices set by the government, leading to more than 100 suspected deaths. “Those who in recent days misused the atmosphere and the people’s demands and concerns instigated riots in the society, created insecurity, made the hearts of women and children tremble, attacked public property, and looted people’s belongings—they and their masters must know that a harsh punishment is awaiting them,” said the head of Iran’s judiciary. In response to the protests, the Iranian government instigated a multiday total shutdown of internet service in the country.7 Customs officers in El Paso, Texas, seized 154 pounds of illicit bologna.8

In Hong Kong, voters turned out in record numbers to flip more than half of the 452 seats in local district-council elections from pro-Beijing to pro-democracy candidates.9 A cache of leaked documents from the Chinese government appeared to contain a manual for operating detention camps holding Muslim Uighurs—who face government restrictions on the length of their beards and what they can name their babies—in the Xinjiang region. Documents describe how Uighur inmates are digitally monitored around the clock; forced to work and to learn Mandarin; and tracked in a points system that rewards “ideological transformation” and “compliance with discipline.” The documents, which also describe how 15,600 people were sent to camps in a single week in 2017 after being flagged as “suspicious persons,” were dismissed by Chinese government officials as “fake news.”10 11 In the same country, a third person within a week was diagnosed with the bubonic plague after eating a wild rabbit.12 In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where a 15-month Ebola epidemic has killed more than 2,000 people, it was reported that more than 5,000 people have died—90 percent of them children under five—in the country’s most recent measles upbreak.13 The Samoan government declared an emergency as a result of a measles outbreak, resulting in children being banned from public gatherings, compulsory vaccination for all citizens, and the closure of all schools.14 More than 40 schools were closed in Colorado after many students started spontaneously vomiting.15 Flash-flood warnings were issued in California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, affecting some 13 million people.16 At least 29 people were killed in western Kenya in landslides triggered by heavy rain; rivers burst their banks and communities declared their “wettest ever autumns” in England and Wales; and it was announced that beavers would be reintroduced in England in an attempt to control flooding.17 18 19 In Austria, heavy rain set off mudslides, which led to houses colliding with one another and killed several cows.20 Nearly 14,600 sheep drowned in a ship’s hull after it capsized off the coast of Romania, and Ukraine’s navy complained that two gunboats and a tugboat—seized by Russia a year ago as they tried to cross the Black Sea—had been stripped of their toilets.21 21

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed the country’s first minister of middle-class prosperity, who, when asked to define the middle class, said it included Canadians who “you know, send their kids to play hockey.”23 Queen Elizabeth canceled Prince Andrew’s birthday party after the prince announced he was ceasing his royal duties in response to allegations that the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein had paid a 17-year-old girl for sex on the prince’s behalf in the early 2000s.24 25 In Halifax, Nova Scotia, organizers of a conference on global security faced criticism over a panel on “women’s contributions” to the industry that featured only men.26 Police officers in Rome were investigated on allegations of accepting bribes—in the form of pasta and gelato—from bars and restaurants near the city’s main tourist attractions.27 A man found on the kitchen floor of a locked Dallas apartment was determined to have been dead since 2016, and mummified cats, crocodiles, cobras, and birds found in an ancient Egyptian necropolis were unveiled for the first time.28 29 Families waiting in line for Disney’s Frozen 2 at a theater in Birmingham, England, found themselves in the middle of a brawl when 100 young people waiting in line for another movie began attacking one another with machetes and a knife.30 In Port St. Lucie, Florida, it was discovered that the sole occupant of a car driving backwards in circles for an hour was a Labrador retriever.31 —Sharon J. Riley

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