Weekly Review — January 14, 2020, 11:20 am

Weekly Review

The Iranian military admitted it shot down a passenger plane; a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Puerto Rico; 10,000 feral camels were shot in Australia

Following several days of official denials, the Iranian military admitted that it had shot down a Ukranian passenger plane shortly after it had left the Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport and made a sharp turn toward a military base, killing all 176 people aboard the plane.1 2 Iranian citizens responded with protests against the military and the government, chanting statements such as “Clerics get lost!”3 Police officers have fired on demonstrators with tear gas and, reportedly, with bullets.4 Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky released a statement that said, “Our goal is to ascertain the undeniable truth,” and Donald Trump, who it was revealed had ordered an unsuccessful strike against an Iranian official in Yemen, tweeted, “To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS.”5 6 7 Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said that he had no direct evidence that Qassem Soleimani had plotted attacks against four American embassies, which was the justification President Trump had given for Soleimani’s death by drone strike.8 9 Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes against two American-staffed bases in Iraq did not result in any fatalities, and it was reported that a decorated veteran of the American wars in Vietnam and Iraq had his prosthetic limbs repossessed from his home in Mississippi when the VA declined to pay for them.10 11 A couple in Atlanta was informed that their insurance did not cover rodent damage after, upon returning from their honeymoon, they discovered that a squirrel had fallen down their chimney and caused $15,000 in damage.12

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Puerto Rico, the strongest out of more than a thousand to hit the island since late December.13 The tremors forced 8,000 Americans to evacuate their homes and knocked out power throughout 7 percent of the territory, which is still awaiting $18 billion in federal relief after Hurricane Maria, and where an estimated 1 in 14 schoolchildren report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.14 Spain’s parliament voted to establish its first progressive coalition government in 80 years; Tsai Ing-wen was reelected as Taiwan’s president, beating a pro-Beijing opponent in a 20-point landslide; and Andrew Bosworth, the former head of advertising and current augmented- and virtual-reality vice president at Facebook—which tracks the length of its moderators’ bathroom trips and asks them to explain any delays—wrote that the company had effectively delivered the 2016 presidential election to Trump and that Facebook should not change its advertising policies.15 16 17 18 “I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment,” Bosworth wrote. “Specifically when Frodo offers the ring to Galadrial and she imagines using the power righteously, at first, but knows it will eventually corrupt her.” Federal prosecutors announced that surveillance footage taken outside Jeffrey Epstein’s cell during his first suicide attempt had been erased because, in a clerical error, officials had saved footage from the wrong floor of the building.19 Aboriginal leaders in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara territories of Australia allowed hunters to shoot 10,000 feral camels from helicopters in an attempt to protect the area’s limited water from thirsty dromedaries.20 During a visit to Kangaroo Island, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said he was thankful that no one had died in a bushfire there; upon being told by locals that two people had in fact died, Morrison looked toward an aide and then said, “Two. Yes, two, that’s quite right. I was thinking of firefighters firstly.”21 The Royal Australian Navy delivered 800 gallons of beer to the town of Mallacoota, whose lone road was destroyed by fire on New Year’s Eve.22

Firefighters were summoned in Ontario when a 57-year-old man, reacting angrily to his son’s girlfriend’s insistence that the earth is flat, threw a tank of propane onto a fire.23 A purveyor of hot dogs in British Columbia offered to donate an organ to one of his regular customers. “I said, dude, you got my kidney.”24 A woman in Stayton, Oregon, sued the Mormon Church for $9.5 million dollars, accusing a clergy member of breach of trust and emotional distress for having reported her husband to law enforcement after he had confessed to molesting one of his daughters; the woman listed four of her children as co-plaintiffs but omitted from the suit her fifth child, whom her husband had confessed to molesting over a period of four years.25 A 32-year-old man checked himself into a hospital after being bitten in the buttocks by a coyote in Chicago’s historic Gold Coast neighborhood; an 88-year-old in Bath, Maine, fought off a rabid fox attack for the second time; and 86-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg announced that she had beaten pancreatic cancer.262728Cameron French

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