Wednesday, December 31

Weekly Review


A suicide car bomb at a school in Shalbandi, Pakistan, killed more than 30 people, suicide bombs in Afghanistan killed at least 20 people, including 13 schoolchildren, a car bomb in Baghdad killed at least 24 people, and cancer rates were on the rise worldwide.12 13 14 15 Somalian President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, whose government controls only a few city blocks in a country nearly the size of Texas, resigned and was expected to return to the northern stronghold of his clan, leaving the country to be run by insurgents. Islamist militant group Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama killed ten members of rival Islamist militant group the Shabab and called for its own members to “prepare themselves for jihad against these heretic groups” in order to “restore stability and harmony in Somalia.”16 17 Military officers in Guinea took control of the country in a bloodless coup,18 and protesters in Thailand surrounded the parliament, delaying the new government's opening legislative session.19 It was revealed that the CIA has been bribing Afghani tribal leaders with Viagra,20 and Bjork started a venture-capital fund in Iceland.21

Scientists found that chimpanzees use the same region of the brain as humans to recognize familiar faces.22 At a movie theater in Philadelphia a man shot another man in the arm for making too much noise during a Christmastime showing of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,23 and a man in Pittsburgh was arrested for assault after he failed to change his three-year-old's diaper for several days, causing second-degree burns on the child's legs and genitals.24 Hedge-fund manager and New York Yacht Club member Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, who lost more than a billion dollars in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, stayed late after work at his Manhattan office, slit his wrists with a box cutter, and bled to death at his desk.25 Chip Saltsman, a Tennessee Republican seeking the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, defended his decision to include the song “Barack the Magic Negro” on a holiday mix CD he sent to Committee members. “I think most people recognize political satire when they see it,” Saltsman said. “I think RNC members understand that.”26 Dozens of people in Illinois contracted food poisoning from contaminated ham served at the Lawrence County Health Department Christmas party. “It's not been funny,” said the head of the department, who was among those sickened by the ham. “It's taken the punch out of my whole Christmas.”27 An eight-year-old Saudi Arabian girl was denied a divorce from her 58-year-old husband because she was too young to file, 28 a man in Massachusetts died of carbon monoxide poisoning after a dead raccoon became stuck in his furnace exhaust, 29 and an Ontario woman was found buried under three feet of snow three days after she went missing. “Wow,” she told rescue workers. “I've been here a long time.”30